Bquipped Equipment Education

How Pro Athletes Practice Field Hockey

how pro athletes train for hockey
Playing field hockey has taught me a thing or two about discipline. Being a part of a team means putting the team before yourself and doing things for the best of the team.

You learn to put yourself second in a lot of situations, which isn’t something every athlete is used to.

Discipline is one thing I have learned over the years, but I have also acquired a hockey IQ that I would like to share with all of you. Here are a few ways that my professional U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team practices:

Short Play

Short Play is playing field hockey on a smaller field then the “full field.” We call this “small games” on the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team…and we do this in practically every one of our practices. Short play usually means drills like 3v2 continuous over a smaller field.

We play 3v2 continuous over a 35-yard field. To create a smaller field for short play, we move one goal up and make the field smaller. (Duh, right?) There are a lot of combinations of drills you can do to maximize your short play practice.

6v3 Possession Drill

One of my favorite drills is easy to setup. It’s a 6 v 3 possession drill. You start with 3 teams of 3, and two of the teams are on offense while the third plays defense. The field size can range, but you want to make it so it’s fair for the defense. Once the defense turns over one of the teams, they become offense, and the other team becomes defense. This keeps happening as the game goes on so you can play this game for 3 or 4 minutes at a time. The goal of the game is to keep possession and know what you are going to do when you get the ball.

3v3 Circle Drill

Another basic drill you can do is 3v3 in the circle. You start with 3v3 in the circle and then two other people outside of the hashmarks. These two people pass back and forth and then play to one of the 3 offense players in the circle. The 3v3 then goes into the circle until there is a goal or the defense clears the ball out of the circle. Once you have played a few rounds you can start to add the two people outside of the circle, one being an attacker and the other being a defensive player. Once the ball is passed into the circle, the two players outside of the circle join in and play a 4v4 in the circle, and so on. 

Full Play

Full play is pretty much self-explanatory. It means playing field hockey over the full field and, usually, a scrimmage or a game. The National Team doesn’t play a lot of full play, since we only have 21 players. This makes it hard to play 11v11 (or more likely 10v10) since we’d be running our tails off to make plays.

An example of something we do practice in full play is being a player down. The situation of playing 10v11 usually comes about when a player on your team gets a card.

This happens more often in today’s game with the new green card rule being enforced. We will practice both situations, one team will have 10 players and play “a man down,” while the other team will be full strength with 11 players and play against the other squad who is down a player. This is great for both sides to practice game situations in a full play practice situation.

Partner Play

Most of our partner play is very simple and happens in the beginning of practice. Most practices for the U.S. Women’s National Team warm up with a partner by passing back and forth.

Sometimes our coaches will give us a basic passing drill to complete before we get into practice. An example of a drill we do is completing 40 passes over a 60-yard distance. We normally have to hit the ball to one another and sometimes are only allowed two touches on the ball.

If I touch the ball more than twice, we both have to start from the beginning. The first pair to complete 40 passes wins…but I’m not sure exactly what I win…I still have to keep practicing…

how to do a squat for field hockey 

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is a large part of our weekly routine. Weight lifting is very important for injury prevention and is something we take very seriously on the U.S. Women’s National Team.

 Our strength coach, Dave, gives us a three-week program that consists of three different lifts. And keeping track of our routine is pretty cool; we access the lifts on our phones, and take our phones into the gym to write down our weights. The data can do directly back to Dave this way, too, so he can keep track of us.

What kind of exercise do we focus on? Squatting is something we do almost every other week. Back squat, in particular, is very good to strengthen your legs. (We need a lot of leg strength in order to run on the field and to be explosive.)

A squat involves holding weights at your side, or a bar at your chest, and sitting down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (like taking a seat in a chair.) The way you position your feet, say, skewed to the right at a 90 degree angle, determines which thigh muscle you work when you squat. Where you hold the weight (a bar at chest level, or dumbbells at your sides) also shifts the muscle group you work every time you squat.

I also have to do quite a few pull-ups. Yes, that’s right…pull ups. We do a lot of different variations, though. Each style of pull-up works a different muscle group.

For field hockey weight training, they often include: wide pull ups, under hand pull ups and parallel pull ups. We do one style of pull-up each week and progress into doing these exercises with weights.

To add the weights, we strap a belt around our hips and attach a plate (the big metal weight disk) to the end. The weight of the plate is usually between 5-15 pounds.

For beginners, it will take you awhile to get up to weighted pull-ups so do not expect to be able to do these the first time you try them. We have been doing pull ups for over a year now and have just now started progressing in weight. Just saying.

Keep up with our blog to learn more about how pro athletes train for field hockey; I’ve got a weight training and running blog coming right up!