Performance in Hockey is determined by a player’s technical, tactical, physiological and psychological abilities. These components are closely linked to one another. During a game, players perform different types of exercise ranging from standing still to maximal sprinting, and the intensity can alter at any time depending on the nature of the game. This separates hockey from sports in which exercise is performed continuously with either a moderate or very high intensity is sustained throughout the entire event such as marathon running or 400m. As a consequence, the physiological demands in hockey are more complex than many individual sports.

In a game we require the following abilities:

  1. the ability to perform prolonged intermittent exercise – (endurance)
  2. the ability to perform at high intensity – (speed endurance)
  3. the ability to sprint and change direction at speed- (speed / agility/ strength)

The hockey only approach is no longer successful – all the best nations have placed a heavy emphasis upon physical preparation.

Becoming an elite athlete starts now and not when you get into the senior squad.

Why is physiology in the world class start, potential and performance programmes?

  • We want you to become self-sufficient athletes.
  • Promote good athlete lifestyle habits early in your development

What does a physiologist do?

  • Oversee physical preparation – training advice, help with planning/monitoring, and organising training week, fitness testing.
  • One tone advice
  • Introduce good training habits.
  • Help reduce time lost through injury with co-ordinating your training with the physio.
  • If you need advice about any aspect of your training programme, ask your physiologist.

Why Monitor Training?

Training logs are important. They monitor how you feel and create a pattern of how you train – what helps and what doesn’t

It lets you see what works and what doesn’t allowing you to identify trends and pick up over training

Having a good record is vital. It’s the first step in learning to put yourself on the hook, to be responsible for yourself

Feedback from training is important to the athletes, coach and sports scientist.

  • Feedback acts as a motivational tool for the athlete
  • Coaches use feedback to prescribe and fine tune training, therefore improve performance.
  • Sports scientists use feedback to assess the effectiveness of various training methods and there impact upon performance.
  • Promotes self-analysis, reflection. Continuous education regarding physiology and training.
  • People forget, and its about being honest!!!

Methods of Monitoring

The more a player knows about their bodies the better they train. And the better they train the fitter they become Bob Dwyer, coach of the Australian World Rugby Champions 1991.

Heart rate, an overall picture of how hard the body has worked during a specific training session. (see graph)

Effects of exercise on the human body

During exercise various physiological systems adapt to meet the increased demand for energy.

E.g. increase in heart rate to allow increased blood flow to the muscles.

Heart rate is a simple, effective way of monitoring how hard the body is working.

There is a linear relationship between heart rate and exercise intensity – So the faster you run, the more your heart beats.

Heart rate and exercise intensity

At rest
– Average 60-80 beats per minute
– Sedentary (lazy) individuals exceed 100 bpm
– Highly trained endurance athletes 28-40bpm.

Prior to exercise heart rate increases above resting values Anticipatory response

During exercise heart rate increases directly as exercise intensity increases.
– Approach the point of exhaustion, heart rate begins to level off.

Maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate achievable in an all out effort lasting 8-15 min prior to the point of exhaustion.

HR can be estimated based on an individuals age – HR max= 220-age in years.

When exercise is held constant at a submaximal level, heart rate will increase rapidly during the first few minutes until it reaches a plateau – this is known as the steady state HR.

Training Heart rate

– Training at different percentages of HR max produces different changes in fitness.

-HR range 70-80% of HR max for aerobic endurance.

-To monitor training load and quality ensure HR falls within the given HR zone.

– The idea that the harder you work the better you are going to be is just garbage. The greatest improvement is made by the athlete who works the most intelligently

Lactate analysis, provides specific information regarding exercise intensity and energy metabolism.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) provides a quick and simple method of assessing the severity of training session and provides a picture of how hard the body has worked.

Rate of perceived exertion (RPE)

  • Proposed method for prescribing and monitoring exercise intensity.
  • Individuals rate how hard they feel they are working.
  • A numerical rating corresponding to the perceived exertion is given.

Borg scale, used correctly has been proven to be very accurate, e.g. 19-20 at the end of the bleep test.

Rating 15 point scale
7 Very very light
9 Very light
11 Fairly light
13 Somewhat Hard
15 Hard
17 Very Hard
19 Very very hard

Training diaries:

  • Allows close monitoring of player’s health, well being and training status.
  • Provides early signs of illness and overtraining.
  • Builds a picture of the recovery process.
  • Educates players on their physiological responses to training and which methods work best for him/her.

Training diaries enable you to monitor / record the following information:

  • Distance covered, split times, sets & reps, weight lifted, average / max HR, RPE and details of coaching sessions, example of drills.
  • Base line data, morning HR, weight, sleep parameters.
  • Injury / rehabilitation status.
  • Other factors, hours worked, travel time, diet.


Evidence from unexplained underperformance syndrome (Overtraining syndrome)
– Signs and symptoms associated with overtraining are varied and inconclusive

Drop in performance, decreased appetite and weight loss, muscle tenderness, head colds, nausea, sleep disturbances, emotional instability, elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure and elevated metabolism.

Used collectively these variables may provide markers of training load.

High levels of fatigue disturbs sleep quality and patterns.
– Sleep disturbance cause a loss of appetite, reduced energy levels which further fatigues the athlete, thus training volume and intensity must be compensated.

Fatigue, illness and overtraining effect many physiological and psychological traits.


Listen to how your body feels, if you are exhausted you will not perform good training. You also increase the risk of injury.

Fitness Testing – Hate or Help?

Tests are in the programme to help you. Athletes that fear tests are athletes that cut corners.

What are the aims of fitness testing?
– Assess your fitness level.
– Monitor the effectiveness of your training programme.
– Monitor your progress.
How can I prepare for a fitness test?
– Ensure you have 24 hours rest prior to e test.
– Make sure you arrive in plenty of time prior to a test, especially after a long journey.
– Eat your usual high carbohydrate diet; don’t change anything before your test.

How the results are used?
– To monitor your progress.
– Appropriate changes can be made to your training programme.

What test will I have to Complete?
– Bleep test
– Sprints 6x40m
– -5-0-5 Agility
– Tests do change from time to time as the testing protocols are updated in line with current research.

Who will see my results?
– Your results are confidential, and you own this information.
– Unless you specify otherwise your head coach will receive your test results.

What should I get on my fitness test?
– You should aim to get your best possible score, and put in maximal effort.


Warm up thoroughly – especially for sprints.

– If you haven’t done the training the test will show this, which category do you fall into, hate or help?

Training Programmes

Motivating myself for long interval sessions is tough, but you just have to get out and do it. I feel I have achieved something when I’ve finished Lucilla Wright 2002

Once you have been fitness tested your strengths and weakness can be identified. You will be given a training programme to help you improve and develop different aspects of your fitness.

One of the problems when planning your training week is a lack of time and number of commitments you have to keep including school, college, work and hockey.

Top 10 Training Tips

  1. Ensure your training is high quality.
  2. Keep a training diary, a record of all your sessions.
  3. Do not train if you are ill or injured
  4. Ensure you have one complete days rest every week
  5. Ensure you are achieving a healthy balanced diet.
  6. Train in a safe environment, ideally with someone.
  7. Ensure you are well hydrated at all times (urine should be a pale yellow colour) and take a drink / snack to training and games.
  8. You should have a recovery week every 3-4 weeks consisting of reduced training volume
  9. Contact your physiologist if you would like to make changes to your training programme.
  10. You don’t get fit just playing hockey, you need to perform quality training in addition to hockey training and matches.

Why Warm Up

It prepares the body and mind for the match / exercise and may reduce the risk of injury to joints and muscles.

Increases the blood flow to the muscles and raises muscle and core temperature

Increases the speed of muscle contraction and relaxation.

Increases the use of oxygen for energy production.

Types of warm ups:
1) General warm up.
2) Specific warm up.

The general warm up must begin to raise muscle and core temperature, increase blood flow and help to loosen up.
– 5-10min of low intensity whole body exercise e.g. jogging around the pitch.
– 10-15min of dynamic stretching
– A variety of controlled exaggerated movements mimicking those used in a game.
– Allows a progressive increase in the range and speed of movement.
– Optimise learning, practice and performance of many types of skilled movements.
– Promote the development of body awareness and co-ordination.

Specific Warm Up

Performing the actual activity the athlete is preparing for,
– Practice swing in golf
– Practice part routine in gymnastics
– Practice drag flicks for PC specialists.

In most sports this is often performed after a general warm up, immediately prior to training or competition.
– Skill rehearsal – passing/dribbling the ball and practicing shots at goal.
– Hockey specific – fine-tuning nerves muscles, timing, perception and focus.
– Thinking hockey!

Why Cool Down?

A progressive reduction in activity or a winding down of the body,
– Shifting down the gears as not to damage the engine.
Gradually reduce blood flow, muscle and core temperature and prevents blood pooling within the muscles.
– Prevents feelings of dizziness or fainting.
– Helps wash out waste products and accumulated hormones that have built up during exercise.
– Reduce or prevent the effects of delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)
– Reduce muscle tension.

Cool Down

10-15min of moderate to low intensity exercise, e.g. jogging around the pitch, skipping, walking
– 15-20min of static stretching

Static stretching
– Stretching to the farthest comfortable point and holding the stretch for between 15-30seconds.
– This is the time when the muscle length (flexibility) improves.
– Static stretching should not be painful.
– Increases mental and physical relaxation.


Get into the habit of warming up and cooling down.
Personalise your warm ups
– Introduce your own variations within the guidelines that have been provided
– Establish a structured warm up and cool down that becomes a routine.
Remember during competition warm ups and particularly cool downs are essential to aid recovery between matches that can often be played in close succession.


If you sustain an injury this will initially be treated by the Doctor or physiotherapist (see sports medicine section) that will organise treatment and advise you on appropriate action.

Physiotherapists will be able to tell you if you can continue to train with your injury or if you need to rest depending on the severity of the injury.

With many injuries you are able to perform non weight-bearing training such as aqua jogging and cycling. You can use your heart rate monitor to ensure you achieve the same intensity of training when you run. If you have an injury there are ways to maintain your fitness and help speed up your return to full training and playing.

Example Water Sessions

  • 3min light jog
  • 2min 30 sec fast (80%) – 30 sec recovery
  • 2min 10sec sprints – 20 sec recovery (4 sprints)
  • 1min jog
  • 2min 5 sec sprints – 15 sec recovery (4 sprints)
  • Repeat x3 = 30min
  • 6x4min 88-92% MHR
  • 2min recovery after each 4 min

Lower your body temperature as much as possible by wearing the cool jackets before you play – get well hydrated so you’ve got plenty in the tank Danny Hall 2002

1) Be fit – if you have high a high endurance base, you will sweat more efficiently and cope with the conditions much better.
2) Focus on staying hydrated at all times, ensure your urine is pale and you maintain weight with pre and post match weights.
3) Weigh yourself pre and post match to establish how much fluid you have lost and then drink the appropriate fluid to make this up.
4) Use the cool jackets if they are available.
5) Keep your water bottle clean and take sterilising tablets and wash your bottle daily.
6) Be aware of the symptoms caused by heat exhaustion – headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and weak rapid pulse – see the DR immediately.
7) Follow the advise of the support staff


1) Ensure you have a good grip, and take plenty.
2) Put Vaseline on your feet to prevent blisters in very hot conditions.
3) Don’t get sunburnt – it hurts but more importantly it prevents your skin from being able to sweat as efficiently.
4) Take at least 2 pairs of shoes.

Menstrual Cycles

It is a good idea to record your menstrual cycles. There is no hard evidence to suggest that menstrual cycles effect performance, possibly due to a lack of research. Note how you feel throughout the month, such as feeling bloated, tired, cramps etc., and the duration of your period. This information will enable us to establish trends throughout the month and make modifications to your training. Researches have suggested that active females, with a low body fat, increase their risk of irregular menstrual cycle (Oligomorrhea) or a complete stop in menstrual cycle (ammenhorrhea). When your periods are irregular you increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury when participating in vigorous exercise. For optimal performance body fat should remain within the ranges of 25-35mm. If your body fat is lower than this level you may start to experiences irregular menstrual cycles. The risks associated with irregular and absent cycles are not fully known but certainly there are effects on bone density and consequently an increased chance of a stress fracture. You lose iron when you have your period; it is essential that you eat adequate amounts in your diet.

Travelling & Jet Lag

Travelling to tournaments can be a stressful experience. Trips that involve flying even short haul require a great deal of planning. The key to making your trip a positive experience is to ensure you have organised everything in plenty of time. The following list is basic but essential!
1) Passport
2) Appropriate playing kit and casual clothes
3) Organised travel to airport and time of arrival
4) Remember there can be unexpected delays when travelling so remain calm and relaxed.
5) Make sure you keep in touch with friends and family at home.

Jet Lag

Each of us has a built – in biological clock that controls our sleep-wake patterns, hunger intervals and many other functions. These daily cycles are called circadian rhythms. Jet lag is caused by disturbances of these cycles by travelling over several time zones.

When these rhythms are shifted they affects the way we function and feel. Emotional effects such as mood changes usually resolve rapidly. Body functions, such as sleep-wake cycles, appetite, digestion, body temperature, heart rate and reaction times, all of which can have potential effects on your performance, can take several days to adjust. Due to the time scale of the tour it is essential that you adjust as quickly as possible.

You can take several steps to reduce the impact of jet lag on your performance. For example on a flight to the USA you will travel westwards over 5 time zones, which has a smaller impact on the body’s cycle than travelling eastwards. This is due to local time at arrival is closer to departure time.

Prior to take off

Ensure you are well prepared and rested prior to your flight.
Take things to keep you awake, books, and games, Walkman.
3 days prior to your flight go to bed a couple of hours later than usual.
Cut down on caffeine two days before and during the flight.
As soon as you get on the plane adjust your watch to destination time.

Drink plenty of water – ensure you have your drinks bottle, cabin crew will fill these up when required – if asked nicely!
Get up and walk around during the flight – limbs tend to swell which can be uncomfortable, do some stretching to reduce cramps/soreness.
Take medication including inhalers on the new time, this will mean there is not the usual time between doses initially but is the only way the body can adapt. Ask your DR / physio for advice.
If you wear contact lenses consider removing them during the flight; the dry atmosphere can cause irritation.

Arrival & Return Flight

High protein snacks (nuts, cheese) can make you more alert whilst you are adjusting to the new bedtime. Carbohydrate snacks can make you sleepy!
Light exercise/training will help your body to adjust to the new time.
The body’s adaptation after the return flight will be harder. It is important that you adopt similar practices as the outward flight to help you adjust as quickly as.