GB Women’s Hockey Team on Tour – Part II

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It’s not exactly a glamorous start to the day. The first thing we do on waking up is pee in a little plastic pot. Depending on your level of morning alertness, this can be a tough early test of coordination. We then deliver our urine sample to the Physio who has the delightful job of assessing our levels of hydration. We also weigh ourselves each morning as an added indication of hydration status. There’s usually some pretty special looking outfits and hairstyles at this point in the day too. I dread to think what other hotel guests think on their way to breakfast as they pass an unkempt, pyjama’d hockey girl carrying a pot of wee down the corridor.

Mealtimes on tour can be a bit of a box ticking exercise. Sufficient protein and carbohydrate intake are particularly essential to fuelling our training and recovery, so breakfast tends to involve foods like eggs, yogurt and porridge. I always end up eating much more fresh fruit on tours than I do at home. It’s amazing how much easier it seems when someone has peeled and cut it up for me. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for this job once we are home please get in touch.

We then embark on some ‘mindfulness’ meditation and some further physical testing to monitor our recovery and wellbeing. On this trip it has involved jump testing and running up and down a car park wearing heart rate monitors – further odd sights for other hotel guests.

We have a squad of 32 here in San Diego, so on match days the rest of the day depends on whether or not you are playing. Those not taking part in the game do a hockey session down at the field before staying around to support the team. This is definitely a preferable option to a running session! It’s never much fun sitting on the sidelines, but this is very much a squad effort and there’s lots you can learn from watching as well as playing. The girls on the pitch all wear GPS units to track the distances we cover and speeds we run at, which helps the coaches to gauge the intensity of our play. In the two unofficial games we have played so far (both against the USA) we have had a couple of losses. As the effects of jet lag wear off and we start to get more used to playing with each other we certainly hope to chalk up some better performances and results.

The remainder of the day is taken up with recovery, more food and meetings. We aren’t ice bathing here as the trip is part of a larger cycle of training, so we don’t want to negate the training effects of running around. I’m not complaining! A thorough warm down, protein shakes, fruit and rehydration are all essential immediately after the game. Pre and post-match weighing helps us calculate how much additional fluid is required for individuals to rehydrate. It has been known for some players to lose up to 3kg through sweat during a game. You definitely can’t say we don’t work hard! We leave detailed performance analysis until later on so that the coaches can use video to help reinforce tactical and technical messages from the game.

We haven’t had much time here for relaxing and seeing the city but there are usually a mixture of other activities going on in our down time. TV series, movies, books and a dip in the hotel pool are all essential distractions to give yourself a bit of mental and physical time out.

There have been rumours of a team ‘Valentines Day lucky dip’ being organised so a compulsory trip to the mall will happen at some point. With a number of pranksters in the team, these ideas usually result in a lot of innuendo and laughter. The results of the lucky dip may therefore have to be censored! As much as we can become a better team from what we do on the pitch, often the real bonding is done away from it. This is one of our biggest objectives for this tour and could have a massive impact on our success going forward.

By bedtime we are ready to crash out and get some well earned rest ready for another day of challenges. A good night’s sleep also means I’m more likely to wake up fresh and have more coordination for the dreaded pee pot!

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