Fitness Training Concepts and a Structured Regime


 A: Every member of the squad committing to get fit for hockey will make the difference between achieving the team's goals or falling short. Every single Member of the Squad should be fit to play for the full seventy minutes at a high intensity.


A key factor in success in hockey is appropriate and relevant fitness training. For too many years endurance training has provided the cornerstone of players preparation for performance. However Hockey is a multiple sprint sport and as such training must be geared to the provision of energy to the muscles through the pathways that are stressed by repeated high intensity bursts of energy.

Training is often difficult with a busy schedule and competing demands however it is only ever successful if it becomes part of a regular routine and lifestyle. However it is also essential that the correct type of training is done to enhance hockey performance, as that is the primary goal.

Training is easier with a partner, it helps motivate and makes committing to a routine easier as you are letting your partner down by missing a session. Its also more fun to work out with someone else. Mentoring each other is a way of building team-ship and pushing each other beyond the “comfort zones” we naturally settle for. For improvement to happen THE BODY MUST be STRESSED!!

Energy Pathways Overview

There are three identified pathways by which energy for sports performance is created. These are Aerobic Pathway, Lactate Pathway or through breakdown of ATP and rebuilding through Creatine Phosphate.

Aerobic Pathway

The first of these, the Aerobic breakdown of glucose in the muscle cells is a relatively slow releasing form of energy production and takes a little time to initiate but can be sustained for long periods of time. Fat can also be utilised in this process (after 20 minutes of prolonged exercise) and consequently it is good method of training for losing body fat and for prolonged bouts of exercise.

It is a useful form of training for endurance-based events and for building up a baseline in stamina. Thus for hockey it is useful to do some aerobic training in pre season or if there is a specific goal of weight loss or rehabilitation from injury. However too much aerobic training hinders speed and the cell functioning for the other methods of energy production.

-Lactate Pathway

This method is similar to the aerobic pathway in the fact that glucose is the fuel. However in this method the intensity of training exceeds the body’s ability to provide energy aerobically and as a consequence the body builds up Lactic acid. This can be tolerated for a short time before the change in acidity in the muscle cells hinders their functioning and performance declines rapidly. This system kicks in after about 15 seconds of high intensity exercise and can be sustained for about 45 – 60 seconds.

With specific training targeting this energy system the bodies tolerance to lactic acid can be improved, allowing longer duration of high intensity exercise to be sustained and also improvements in the bodies ability to recover following a bout of lactic acid accumulation. This is a key factor in improving hockey fitness and performance. Lactic acid accumulates in the cells throughout the game and it is the players ability to recover quickly that has the most significant effect on their performance throughout the course of a game.

ATP/PC System

Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP) is the substance in our cells that when splitting releases energy that can be utilised to produce muscle contractions. We store small amounts of this in every muscle cell and it can provide an instant source of energy. The other two energy pathways involve chemical reactions that end up with the production of ATP.

We use this for the first 10 seconds of every exercise that we do whatever the intensity until the other two systems can kick in. The supply in our cells can only last a few seconds and so has to be re built. Another chemical Creatine Phosphate (PC) also found in our muscle cells is used to reconstruct ATP so that it can be used again. Any maximal exercise uses this system to provide the instant hit of energy needed throughout a game.

Exhaustion of this system occurs after 10 – 15 seconds of very high intensity exercise and takes approx 3 minutes to recover fully back to pre exercise levels. Thus during a game an athlete is continually draining this system. However with specific training of short duration and high intensity the body can adapt to store more ATP and PC in the cells, thus allowing sustaining of max effort for longer periods of time. Also training enhances the ability of this system to recover after each maximal effort, improving performance.


The ability of the body to recover from a bout of exercise eg; 30 m sprint, 3 mile run etc is the key to improvements in performance. Recovery is enhanced by training, provided that the body is stressed beyond its normal levels. When this happens the body adapts and consequently recovery improves.

In training sessions a good deal of thought should be given to the amount of recovery time the body is given.

If the goal is to stress the system then the recovery time between activity should be slightly less than complete recovery.

If the goal is quality of performance e.g.: sprint times being maintained, then full recovery should be allowed.

In planning your training session include the amount of time for recovery between each set or repetition. The table below identifies the intensity and duration of exercise needed to target each energy system and also highlights the time needed for partial and full recovery following complete exhaustion of each system.

Table showing Onset of each Energy Sytem and time after exercise for recovery.


Duration of exercise


75% recovery

100 % Recovery


1 minute +

Moderate 60 – 80% max Heart Rate

90 minutes

24 hours


15 – 60 secs

High Intensity 80 –100 max Heart Rate

60 seconds

3 minutes


0 – 15 secs

High Intensity 90 – 100% max Heart rate

30 seconds

180 seconds


We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to fitness. We tend to train to what we are good at and are more reluctant to target the weaker areas. It is important that we maintain our strengths, but vital that time and energy in training is put into developing our weaker areas. It is essential that you make an honest assessment of your own training needs and that you structure your training to specifically develop your key areas.

The training sessions outlined below are examples of sessions you could do to develop each energy pathway. Some would be applicable, others less so, but with this information you can hopefully devise your own training schedule utilising the key points of
What energy system am I targeting?
What intensity do I need to work at?
How long should each repetition be for that energy system?
How many reps should I do to stress the system?
How much recovery time should I give?

Training Session 1 (Aerobic/Lactate)
Warm up
1 mile run/ 7 minute run
Hill Sprints @ 80% max (distance approx 50 metres) x 10 repetitions
(jog recovery 30 secs)
1 mile run/ 7 minute run
Cool down
Training Session 2 (Lactate)
Warm up
400m (approx. football pitch) x 8 repetitions (60 – 80 secs per lap)(60 secs recovery )
Circuit: Squats; Sit Ups; Squat Thrusts; Press Ups; Burpees  (60 sec per exercise) (Repeat total circuit twice).
Cool Down

Training Session 3 (ATP/PC & Lactate)
Warm up
Sprint Pyramid
20m x 5 (30 sec recovery)
    40m x 4 (60 sec recovery)
        60m x 3 (90 sec recovery)
            80m x 2 (120 sec recovery)
        60m x 3 (90 sec recovery)
    40m x 4 (60 sec recovery)
20m x 5 (30 sec recovery)
Recovery time allows almost full recovery.
Sprint distances equate to baseline, 25yd line, half way, other 25, baseline of a hockey pitch or equivalent on football pitch/rugby pitch.
Circuit: As for session 2 but with 20 seconds of work at max intensity x 3 reps of circuit.
Cool down

Training Session 4 (Aerobic or Lactate & ATP/PCR )
Warm up
Weight Training (40 mins)
Strength/Power 6-8 reps/set (2 min recovery)
Endurance 15-20reps/set  (30 sec recovery)
Cool Down
Focus on: Hamstrings, Calf muscles, Wrists, Forearms, Shoulders, Upper Back.
Whole Body Exercises are Excellent e.g. Power Cleans, Clean and Jerk, Squats, Military Press. Seek advice at Gyms from Trainers.

Training Session 5 (ATP/PC)
Warm up
Plyometrics/Agility – plyometric training involves activities such as bounding, hopping, skipping, jumping. It develops explosive power and is essential for acceleration and change of pace. It should only be done once or twice a week as it can cause some damage to muscle fibres if done too frequently.
It is distinguished by involving an eccentric contraction followed by a concentric contraction. This develops greater power in the muscle contraction, similar to flicking an elastic band. The eccentric contraction (muscle lengthens under tension) is the same as the stretching of the elastic band; the concentric contraction (muscle shortens in length under tension) is the elastic band being let go.
For example, skipping with ropes involve this, running downhill develops this, bounding over a bench, hopping, footwork ladders etc.
Core Strengthening – Pilates Classes – low intensity but very good for stabilising body core and prevention of injuries.
Cool Down

Training Session 6 (Endurance)
Cycling, Swimming, Rowing, Other sports, Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics, Circuits – all provide variety to training and make it interesting!!
If you enjoy it you are more likely to keep doing it!
The table below outlines an overview of what type of training should be done when during the season. This should be adapted to suit individual needs.


When to do?


Frequency per week

Pre/Early Season

1, 2 & 4

Each session x 2

(min 5 sessions)

Mid Season

3, 5 & 6

 Session 5 & 6 x 2, 3 x 1

(min 5 sessions)

Off Season

4 & 6

X 3 varied sessions


Every member of the Squad Committing to Get Fit For Hockey will make the difference between achieving the teams goals or falling short.

Every single Member of the Squad must be fit to Play for the full seventy minutes at a high intensity. 

Commit to Each Other and Train for the Team
The above was provided to the Club by previous coach Martin Langston, ex-GB goalkeeper, for fitness advice call Steve Sieff on 07779 721609.