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Field hockey is a unique sport that can improve overall fitness and confidence for players of all ages. It requires upper body strength, flexibility, agility, and incredible running skills. Improving field hockey fitness can be achieved by attending team practices, but for those who want to stay fit on their own or need extra practice, there are many easy exercises to give a player an edge.
A player trying to improve field hockey fitness should first work on running. The majority of a field hockey game is spent in motion, especially for forward players. An hour or more of running can be very rough on players who are out of shape. Even those who can run for a long time may not be very fast. Running is easy to do on one's own, and can improve overall fitness for field hockey. To get maximum benefits, an athlete should mix in both long-distance running for endurance and sprinting for speed and quickness. It is important to have excellent endurance when running, and to be able to push one's body to great speeds. When running for field hockey, it is important to vary speed and to change one's path sporadically. This mimics how a game is played.
Flexibility and agility are also important for a player's field hockey fitness. Field hockey players need to be able to change directions quickly and maneuver themselves around other players. Drills that require quick and precise movements, such as doing grapevines or ladder drills, can improve these skills. Also, having the speed and strength needed to perform field hockey moves is worth very little on the field if they cannot be performed skillfully. In this case, field hockey fitness is all about practicing a move in order to make it physical rather than mental knowledge, like an automatic reaction.
A field hockey player also needs upper body strength to help with drives and to power through opponents. While being quick and smart can help maneuver a ball out of a skirmish with an opposing play, being able to simply push the ball out from the other player's stick is valuable as well. Weight training can help add muscle to the upper body in a way that is sometimes not satisfied by normal field hockey drills.
Working with weights can also be used to strengthen the rest of the body. Some players find that weights help strengthen parts of the body, such as certain back muscles, that are not typically used vigorously during the day. When a person routinely plays field hockey, it becomes apparent which muscles need extra practice in order to work well during a game. Paying attention to one's own body and coming up with a plan that fits one's weaknesses can be the best way to improve field hockey fitness.
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