Posted in Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, St Ives Hockey Club, Women in Sport

Back to Fitness

Warm up, hydration and effective fuelling is essential prior to fitness sessions.

Session 1: Teambuilding

Back with St Ives Hockey Club (SIHC) for their summer fitness sessions and it’s straight back to teambuilding for session 1. 

Fig. 1 – Fitness Passport pre-season goals

Each player is given their own “fitness passport” (shown Fig. 1 & 2) to fill in throughout the sessions to monitor their own progress. 

This season will be concentrating on form: It’s not about quantity. Do one right rather than ten wrong.

Fig. 2 – Fitness Passport progress

Two minute testing: At the start of each session, players complete six exercises for 20 seconds each. These are done on two minute blocks with 30seconds rest between the two blocks. 

1: Squat Jumps – Push ups – Lunges

2: W sits – Side lunges – Burpees.

Card circuit: 15 mins

My favourite introduction to fitness. The group self selected their level of fitness and split into three groups depending on their self-assessment. The group completed the following circuit, using the above rules and the below exercises. 

Final frenzy: 10mins

Another favourite, pairs Tabata. (8 cycles consisting of 20sec exercise, 10sec rest) Take two exercise and alternate within the cycle. You’ll do two Tabata cycles with the exercises below.

  • Push-up slaps (high 5 your mate)
  • Over/unders
  • High 5 crunches 
  • Squat crunches

Finally make sure you cool down and stretch! 

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, Pre-season, sport, St Ives Hockey Club

30 Fitties, One Pregnant Lady and a Baby….

An odd combination you may think, but this was the eclectic turnout at St Ives fitness training last night….

Harley, our newest recruit at five weeks old was cradled in his front carrier as mum Jules negotiated the zig zag cones and demonstrated a new meaning to weighted squats. Obviously all exercise is carried out in moderation and at the discretion of all participants in relation to their own ability and capability. 

Week four pre-season training continues with strength and conditioning as below:

1. Zig-Zag cones and ladders:

(Set up a channel of 8 cones, approximately 10 yards apart at 45 degree angle, followed by a set of two ladders, staggered side by side with two single boxes at each end. Have an additional single ladder at the end.) 

Repeat all cycles x 2 

A: Cones: Touch every cone.

  • High knees forward/backward  
  • Heel kicks forward/backward
  • Sprint forward, jog backwards

B: Waiting area:

  • Star jumps
  • Spotty dogs
  • Squat jumps

C: Ladders: Two feet in each single box, one foot in each single box (as diagram).

  • Face forward 
  • Left leg lead
  • Right leg lead

D: Return to start : 

  • Warrior Lunges
  • Sumo squat kicks
  • Jog back

2. Abs of Steel:

  • 10 x sit-up
  • 10 x bicycle crunch
  • 10 x crocodile walk
  • 10 x scissor crunch

Rest 1 minute 

  • 10 x duck walk
  • 10 x oblique crunches
  • 50m bear crawl
  • 10 x V-crunches

Rest 1 minute

  • 10 x squat thrusts
  • 10 x dorsal raises
  • 10 x burpees
  • 10 x Bastards (burpee with press-up)

Rest 1 minute

3. Conditioning & Tabata Circuit:

1 x conditioning circuit, 1 x Tabata Hub, 1 x conditioning circuit (without planks!) 

Conditioning Circuit: 

  • 50m skip (concentrate on height)
  • 30 sec plank
  • 10 x squat jumps
  • 30 sec right side plank
  • 25m plyometric lunge (drive knee to chest) 
  • 30 sec left side plank
  • 10 x split jumps
  • 6 x clap press-ups (10x press-ups)
  • 30 sec plank
  • 10 x leg raises
  • 30 sec T-plank
  • 30 sec ankle jumps, side to side, front to back
  • 10 x dorsal raise
  • 30 sec commandos (elbows to hands)
  • 10 x crunches 

Tabata Hub: 20 second exercise, 10 second rest – 12 cycles. Always return to the centre (hub) exercise. 

As always, ensure a thorough warm up, warm down and stretch session. We move from grass to pitch next week. 

Posted in Field Hockey, Fitness, Fixtures, FRE Flyers, Hockey, Inclusive sport, Role model, sport, Women in Sport

Mama Jo…

Following on from yesterday’s post from Chris Grant, one of the founders of the FRE Flyers, I caught up with Jo Melchior to find out more about her and her role with the FRE Flyers. 

“I think back to the 6th of August 2012 and smile to myself, as that was the first day I took up the role of Club Development Manager for the FRE Flyers. I have never really been sure of that title, as someone who isn’t impressed with the name on the badge, but rather is a woman whose opinion is formed through the actions of an individual,” Jo explains. 

It’s hard to define a single role for Jo, as she seems to be there for everything, from organising pitches, kit and satellite clubs to social media, crisis management and morale. She commands respect without demand and provides the support the club needs.

“I suppose my remit is to ensure the smooth running of the project, the provision of training, the management of relationships and partnerships, day to day logistics and inevitably the pursuit of funding.

I come from a background in Sport, first as a competitor and subsequently as a teacher / coach / team manager. I have managed large leisure facilities in challenging environments and spent time working in the legal system specialising in child protection. I suppose some of this has prepared me for my most privileged role yet, that of ‘Mama Jo’ to the FRE Flyers a name bestowed on me by the kids themselves.

This entails, providing support of every kind imaginable, sourcing opportunities for training & qualifications, routes to employment, all the regular stuff, but mostly a listening ear, an honest opinion, hopefully some sound advice and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.” 

And that support is not just exclusive to the Flyers themselves, many a time has Jo extended that support. A lynch pin in the network of coaches, a link between the realms. So why does she continue to do her role?  

“Its 4 years on and I am still here, yes its part time in respect of employment, which works for me and the finances of the project, but it’s a full time commitment that I am happy to make, because the personal pride and satisfaction from being around the kids, the coaches and the supporters is immense. I never tire of telling people about what I do for a living and without exception people always react in the same way “wow, that sounds like an amazing job” ….and it is.

Young people often get a ‘bad press’ and sometimes that is the reality of the tiny minority that deserve it. However FRE Flyers has shown me that when given focus and purpose and most of all consistency, even those who might have been at risk of making bad choices in life, make a string of good choices. Our young people have become healthier, happier, smarter, more ambitious and determined and in short are a credit to themselves and their families.”

What’s so good about working with the FRE Flyers? 

“I am lucky to work alongside a terrific team of coaches who all bring a unique flavour to training. They have embraced my philosophy of “challenging, challenging kids”. We expect the core values of FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT & EXCELLENCE to underpin everything we do and have taken what was essentially a ‘vision’ based on Olympic values and created a healthy, vibrant and safe place for those who choose to come along on the journey.”

What should people know about the FRE Flyers? Why does this group continue? 

“We have inevitably lost some along the journey, life and family issues have got in the way, education and work have taken a priority over sport (not the worst thing to happen) and a few have fallen out of love with FRE Flyers, but that’s teenagers for you. The one thing that always remains is that the door never closes, the ‘family ties’ created by the young people may stretch but NEVER break. Once a FRE Flyer, ALWAYS a FRE Flyer.”

Tomorrow we shall be speaking to a couple of the FRE Flyers themselves, so they can tell you why they love hockey and what the FRE Flyers means to them. 

For more information about the FRE Flyers: 

Website :
Twitter: @FREFlyers 
Facebook: FRE Flyers Club
Virgin Money Giving: FRE Flyers Fundraising

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, Pre-season, sport, Women in Sport

Pairs and Ladders…

Week three and we are cracking on with the pre-season fitness training at St Ives Hockey Club. With the start of the school summer holidays, of course some of the teachers had vanished on holiday, but that didn’t stop an increase in numbers. 

Building on strength and endurance this week, in slightly cooler conditions than last weeks blistering sun, meant the introduction of my favourite bit of kit, the ladders! Here’s how the session went… For those teachers who wish to catch up. 

1. Zig-Zag cones and ladders:

(Set up a channel of 8 cones, approximately 5yards apart at 45degree angle, followed by a set of ladders) 

A: Repeat cycle X 2 – rest 1 minute 


  • Sprint forwards jog backwards 
  • Side step squats (touch cone)
  • Sprint (touch cone)


  • Two feet in each box face forward 


  • Warrior Lunges

B: Repeat cycle X 2 – rest one minute


  • Left leg hop 
  • Right leg hop
  • Bunny hops (two feet together, touch the ground)


  • Two feet in each box side facing
  • Change direction on the second round 


  • Reverse Lunges

2. Groups of Four – In Pairs: One pair runs, one pair exercises then swap.

A: 2 x  400m run / Overs & Unders 

B: 1 x  200m sprint / Burpees

C: 1 x 400m run / pairs ‘high 5’ crunches

D: 3 x 100m sprint / plank splits + twists

E: 4 x 50m sprint / pairs squats & reachback

**all runs should have jog back recovery**

For an extra Brucey bonus, here’s a quick Abs of Steel circuit that we didn’t have time for….

  • 10 x sit-up
  • 10 x bicycle crunch
  • 10 x crocodile walk
  • 10 x scissor crunch


  • 10 x duck walk
  • 10 x oblique crunches
  • 50m bear crawl
  • 10 x V-crunches

As with any of these sessions, ensure you have a thorough warm up, warm down and stretch to avoid any injuries. 

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, Pre-season, Women in Sport

Sun’s out… Guns out… 

I thought the torrential hail storm would have cleared the muggy heat in time for last nights pre-season fitness session, but there was no such luck!

Still a good turnout despite some thinking they were going to get caught in hail. Personally I love running in the rain, especially after a blistering hot day. But the sun had persevered and was still warm, proving tricky for speed running.

Before starting the session, especially in the heat, make sure you have hydrated properly and eaten the appropriate amount to get you through the session. For hydration, I use “High 5 – Zero” electrolyte and magnesium tablets. I find they keep you balanced whilst you are sweating and exercising, providing a fresh alternative to water.

Week 2: Endurance/conditioning 

All running should be completed at maximum effort:

2x 800m (2mins rest in between)

  • 10x press-ups
  • 10x squats
  • 10x crunches
  • 10x lunges (each leg)
  • 10x Tricep dips

3x 400m (1min 30 sec rest)

  • 10x tuck jump shuffle (10yrd sprint)
  • 10x burpees
  • 30x left leg hop
  • 30x right leg hop

2x 200m (walk back recovery)

  • 10x ski-jumpers
  • 10x split jumps (or reverse lunges)
  • 45sec plank
  • 10x sumo squat kicks
  • 10x oblique crunches

3x 100m (jog recovery) 

  • 10x leg raises
  • 10x marching plank (raise opp arm/leg)

4x 50m sprints (walk back recovery) 

Always remember to have a thorough warm up and warm down, including a good stretch.

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, Pre-season, sport, Women in Sport

Back to fitness…

Yes that time of year has come around again, your dreams of a summer of feasting have been shattered, it’s that time for pre-season fitness to start again. 

A sterling turnout from St Ives hockey club, as the 8-week programme gets underway. 

The programme includes team building and stamina building to start, moving onto some strength and conditioning, and finally the power and explosive phase to lead into the on-pitch training. 

For those of you that could not make last nights season and wish to carry out the fitness tests in your own time, I’ve attached the document below for you to do so. Second lot of tests will be in week 8 to **hopefully** show your progression. 

For each exercise, time 1 minute and complete as many of the exercises in one minute as you can. Take 1 minute rest inbetween each exercise (as to make it a fair test – we completed these in pairs). 

Fitness takes place at St Ives Outdoor centre every Wednesday 7.30-8.30. It’s £4 per session. Visit the Website for further details. 

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, Fitness, Hockey, Pre-season, sport, Uncategorized, Women in Sport

Pre-Season Fitness: Keep Moving…

Most of us will be well into pre-season fitness and hockey training by now, but if you are not, it’s still not too late! Mental preparation is almost as important as the physical preparation leading into the season. And getting your body in shape for the season can help focus the mind on the tasks in hand.

I have spoken about the ‘building’ phase in a previous blog post Pre-Season starts here…. Working with both St Ives HC and Stevenage HC, we are well underway into the ‘strength’ phase of our pre-season fitness, soon to move into the ‘power & explosive’ phase.

Strength phase:
This is the phase I use to build and strengthen targeted muscles. Core muscles are essential for hockey, as well as building strength in the legs. My personal favourite is Tabata interval training – four minutes of high intensity training. Alternating between 20 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest for eight cycles.

An example of Tabata training: 
(Alternate between exercises during 8 cycles – 4 mins 20s on/10s rest)

Warm up/stretch

Mountain Climbers/Squats (4mins)

Star jumps/Warrior Lunges (4mins)

Mountain Climbers/Tuck Jump (4mins)

2 Mins Rest

Shuttles/Crunches (4mins)

Spotty Dogs/Reverse Crunches (4mins)

Shuttles/V-Sits (4mins)

2 Mins Rest

Burpees/Press-Ups (4mins)

Box Jumps/Tri-cep Dips (4mins)

Burpees/Push Plank (4mins)

Warm down/stretch

Power & Explosive phase:

This is the phase I use to build up speed and agility, in relation to game play. Speed is essential for all positions on the pitch. Midfield players require short, sharp bursts and attackers and defenders are required to be fast over both short and long distances. I want to look at sharp acceleration over the first 2-3 steps between 5-15m, distances replicated in game conditions. Speed and agility will allow you to get your stick to the ball first, before your opposition.

An example session:

Fitness sessions are still running at the following locations.

Mondays – 8pm – 9pm

St Nicholas Park, Pilgrims Way, Stevenage until 7th September. £2

Martins Wood School, Stevenage from 7th September throughout the season. £2

Wednesdays – 7.30pm – 8.30pm
St Ives Outdoor Centre AstroTurf, St Ives £3 – Last session 9th September