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Going the extra mile – how to increase your hockey fitness

Hockey players are endurance athletes. On average, a midfield hockey player runs up to 9km (5.6mi) every single game! In only 3 games you’ll have ran more than half a marathon. Impressive, eh?

Hockey is one of the most demanding sports when it comes to fitness and endurance, with only footballers running more during a game, and they play for 20 minutes more! According to Tribe Sports the following sports cover these distances on average:

  • Football – 11.2km (9mi)
  • Hockey – 9km (5.6mi)
  • Tennis – 4.8km (3mi)
  • Basketball – 4km (2.5mi)
  • American Football – 1.9km (1.2mi)

Even a hockey goalkeeper covers up to 2km (1.2mi) on the pitch, and they don’t even leave the D usually, which is the equivalent of an average American Football player.

With this in mind, have you considered how your club’s training can incorporate fitness plans to fuel your game, increase your stamina and ensure you excel with every time you pick up a hockey stick? Although a defender is unlikely to clock up as many miles as a midfielder or an attacker, strength and conditioning training, such as fartlek once a week, can dramatically improve your game.

What is fartlek?

Did you know Fartlek is Swedish for ‘speed play’? Fartlek training is designed to train and sculpt the muscles in your body to efficiently switch gears and recruit different muscle fibres.

With hockey being a sport where you flit between jog, walk and sprint, this type of workout would be ideal to develop the intrinsic fitness dexterity to better your play.

According to an article on the FIH:

Research conducted using the Australian men’s squad during a Champions Trophy match found that during the game, more than half of the movement by midfielders and forwards was classified high speed running, or sprinting, meaning that if a player runs a total of 9km during a game, he or she will be sprinting approximately 4.5kms.

The short bursts of sprinting can sap energy quickly, so managing this and being able to recover quickly is important when considering fitness training.

You shouldn’t just depend on your hockey club training sessions to develop your endurance fitness, you should make a personal fitness plan that suits your individual lifestyle for around 2-3 times a week that will be pivotal to your personal game play.  It can be as easy as when you go on your jog you increase your speed between landmarks, such as lamp posts, roundabouts, fences, and run at different paces. For example, sprint to a phone box down the street then jog until you recover, then choose another landmark and sprint to that, then jog until you recover, and so on and so forth.

Fartlek is about speed, so don’t worry too much about distance. If you want to cover 5km, then do that and just sprint and jog throughout. At least it’ll spice your usual running routine up a bit at the very least. Try it for a few weeks and then you’ll reap the rewards on the astro turf.

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