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 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


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

Pre-season starts here….



Having just finished a pre-season session with Stevenage Hockey Club, watching my hardcore attendees battle with running for the first time since the end of the season, I thought I would share with you thoughts in regards to pre-season training. I am massively open to suggestions and tips!

Why should you do some pre-season training?

In brief, pre-season training will improve your cardio-vascular capacity, so when you run on the pitch for the first time, you don’t feel like your lungs are going to leap out of your chest, screaming in panic. It will improve your strength and power, so you can smash that ball up the park. And it will improve your speed and agility, so you can ‘skin’ the opposition. These are all good enough reasons to get training straight away.

Pre-season training should be completed in order to minimise the risk of injury at the beginning and throughout the season. Although with experience, too much too soon can cause injury from the start, which is what we must try to avoid. Careful management of individuals may be required to optimise their training and minimise personal risk of injury. It can be argued that strength and conditioning training is as important, if not more, as skills and drills.

However, maintaining a balance between work and rest is crucial throughout the year, as coaches cannot risk overtraining their young athletes, which may have a detrimental effect on an athlete’s performance and health.” (Stop Sports Injuries)

What fitness does it take to be a successful hockey player?

Successful hockey players need a good aerobic fitness in order that they can last the whole of the game. However, with rolling subs, it is easier to incorporate recovery times within that game period. You must be able to keep up with the pace of the game, remain on the pitch free of injury and fatigue, whilst maintaining speed, aerobic fitness, anaerobic ability and agility. A hard task, requiring all areas of fitness.

Here is how I like to carry out my pre-season training. I split it down into three phases, with each phase around 3 weeks long.

  • Building phase – to build up stamina and aerobic endurance
  • Strength phase – to build targeted muscles
  • Power/explosive phase – to build up speed and agility in relation to game play

Building phase

This is the phase I use to develop the anaerobic capacity and baseline aerobic fitness. There are many ways to improve the aerobic capacity, however my favourites are Fartlek training, Interval-based training and running.

Fartlek sessions – The principle of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running, are adapted for the level of fitness you are starting from. For beginners, jogging or walking can be used as your slower periods, and as your fitness increases, you can progress to fast and slow running. I also like to put some hockey specific movements in too, agility circuits, various efforts of intensity and backwards/sideways running, anything that can replicate the physical requirements and intensity of the game.

An example Fartlek session:

5 minute run
2 minute on / 2 minute off   x4
1.5 min on / 1.5 min off   x4
1 min on / 1 min off   x4
5 min run

ON = Sprint
OFF = Jog

Interval training – Consists of alternating periods of high and low intensity activity. For example, can be high intensity sprints, with rest periods interspersed. Interval training will increase your aerobic base level of fitness and also develop your anaerobic energy system, allowing muscles to function more effectively without oxygen.

An example Interval session:

Warm up/stretch
2 x 800m : 4 mins rest
2 x 400m: 2.5 mins rest
2 x 200m: 1.5 mins rest
4 x 100m: 45 sec rest
4 x 50m: 30 sec rest
Cool down/stretch

Running – Depending on your current fitness levels, you should be building up your running capacity. Ideally you should be aiming for at least one run around 5K or 10K per week. Build up slowly – run for as long as you can and if you need to, walk for a minute before starting to run again. Continue this until your desired time. Start at 15 minutes and build up in 5 minute increments. Your mental strength should get you through.

I shall visit the strength, power and explosive phases in separate posts.

The start of the season, you will feel the difference – you’ll feel on top of the world for your first game!