November 3, 2005

Preparation Keys F. Hockey's Success

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The transformation of the field hockey team (10-6, 4-2 Ivy) over the course of one season has been remarkable. In just the second week of the season, the team surpassed the total number of wins of last year’s squad. Since then, program records have been set in goals scored and total wins in a campaign. However, there are other areas where there have been significant improvements that do not necessarily receive a lot of recognition, but really attest to the strides that have been made.

Compared to last season, this year’s opponents have been forced into taking just half the number of shots on goal. With one exception – a 4-2 loss to Brown – the Red has not given up more than two goals in a game. In addition, of the team’s six losses, four have been by only one goal, while the other two have been by two goals. Furthermore, in many of those games, the Red out-shot and outplayed its opposition.

Yet, the leadership and experience of the upperclassmen supported by a talented group of freshman, is simply not enough to yield the level of achievement that the team has attained. Rather, the Red’s accomplishments are a product, not only of its athleticism and skill, but rather of the supplementary work and effort that gets put in prior to and during the season.

In late January, the field hockey team begins its preparations for the upcoming season with speed work, lifting, and conditioning drills. Over the summer, the team gets sent home with a program prepared by strength and conditioning coach Marilyn Brockman, designed to build strength, speed, and agility.

“We’ve been doing more conditioning than in the past – more lifting, pushing them harder and getting them stronger – so that they get in tip-top shape,” said Brockman.

While the team is comprised of great athletes already in top condition, they are further put through demanding fitness tests to ensure that they can sustain their level of competitiveness throughout the season.

“Fitness plays a huge role in maintaining your level of intensity,” Brockman said. “I firmly believe that their fitness level has contributed to a great chunk of the team’s success.”

Off the field, the team has been aided by a new digital editing system, enabling assistant coach Josette Babineau to transfer game tape to a digital format.

Babineau then compiles clips of the game, identifying set plays, patterns, and formations. With this information, practice is planned accordingly with drills and situations coming from the clips.

“It allows players the chance to watch clips specific to them and it helps the coaching staff analyze and prepare for the next game,” Babineau said.

Another component of the Red’s support staff is Dr. Greg Shelley, a sports psychologist who helps provide the players on a weekly or biweekly basis with the mental training skills and tools needed to assess their strengths, build confidence, and handle stressful situations.

“[Dr. Shelley] helps support where we want to go as a team and acts as a sounding board for athletes who are learning to be personally accountable and confront the team in a positive manner,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook.

This season, the Red has taken more of a holistic approach to team building by focusing not only on skill development, but also on the physical, tactical and mental aspects of the game.

This approach has expedited the maturation process of the team and has enabled it to come together and become multi-dimensional.

Though still a work in progress that will continue to evolve, the team has found success this year because of the teamwork of all aspects of the program. Each complementing component, whether a player, a coach, or a member of the support staff has a defined role that helps move the team in the right direction.

Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer