Field Hockey

Question Coaches

I am starting to to work with a field hockey team and I was curious if you would suggest to to the drills and speed work with the hockey sticks or without?

I’d say without, as you can create a greater speed reserve this way and they get plenty of team practice anyway. same for soccer- speed work without the ball.


Why not tell the story you shared at dinner? I am sure many would like to hear what happened years ago with wome of the National team up in Canada.

After having worked with both international level field hockey and bobsleigh athletes - I can safely say that regular sprinting work will translate into better speed in each specific pursuit. Both field hockey and bobsleigh typically involve running with less or no arm involvement - but training with optimal arm involvement will elicit optimal acceleration mechanics which lead to greater speed. When you ask someone to hold a stick or push a sled, that speed does not disappear - in fact it is retained, albeit with a different arm mechanic.

And, as Charlie said, both field hockey and bobsleigh athletes get more than enough time practicing their specific sport in regular practice and training sessions. No need to be redundant with your speed work.

One important observation I’ve made is that athletes who have less arm involvement in their sprinting are more succeptible to groin strains - likely due to the reduced involvement of the upper torso and shoulders in counter rotating the hips. So, doing more of this work (sport specific - shall we call it) will only compound the problem.

The national team here had workouts like 40 x 400m (you read it right, it’s not a typo) and were loosing. The head coach approached my asst at the time, John Miller, now head coach at Notre Dame, who designed a proper training program for the next year. They got silver a the 83 Worlds and were well positioned for the Olympics the next year. Meantime John left for the US.
At the annual coaching symposium, the team head coach, who was named coach of the year, gave a lengthy self-congratulatory speech about preparation down to the number of pairs of socks they carried. No detail, no matter how trivial, was left out- oh, except for the role of John Miller.
Amazingly, after the speech, this lady had the gall to approach me and ask for help. After that speech? Yah right!
So she went back to her old ways, and, the day after a punishing workout, lost to a first round team at the Olympics that was considered a walkover. Bye! Bye!

I understand her ignorance on the matter, but why didn’t she try to learn from -and even copy- (it wouldn’t be worse compared to what she did) that previous programme, but rather “went back to her old ways”?
I don’t get it!

I wondered that at the time but I imagine she never showed up for those workouts and didn’t know what was done and didn’t want to loose face by asking team members.

Very interesting and informative. #2

Coach_luc, I would recommend speed work without sticks too. I think it is important though to do some game-like drills with a stick to ingrain the optimal movement patterns in the player. For example, I would do alot of shooting and agility work with a stick in the same session as the stickless speed work. This could be already taken care of in the practices but I’ve found that my skill level has improved drastically in sports when I do shooting work as often as possible.

Does John Miller still put out the Womens’ Hurdle Development Newsletters?

Don’t know but you should be able to Google him to find out.

Charlie, surely 40 x 400 was a typo and you forgot to edit it.

Maybe that coach was a graduate of the
Emil Zapotek Czechoslovakian University of Sport Coaching.


That should go under ‘humour and things that make us laugh’!

The poor girls who had to do it weren’t laughing.