Jan 29, 2015Big Push
A year-round sport-specific strength and conditioning program helped Ohio State’s field hockey team peak during the posteason and reach new heights last year.
By Anthony Glass
Anthony Glass, MEd, MSCC, CSCS, HFI, USAW, is Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports at The Ohio State University. He is also the Ohio State Director of the National Association for Speed and Explosion and former State Director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He can be reached at: [email protected].
The Ohio State University field hockey team had its best season ever in 2010, making its first trip to the NCAA Division I tournament semifinals. The team peaked at just the right time and was able to post two overtime victories in the tournament before losing to the eventual national champions. The squad also shared a Big Ten Conference regular season championship and set single-season records for wins, points, goals, and assists along the way.
A lot of factors go into having such a great season, and how the team strength trains is one of them. In collaboration with the team’s coaches, athletic trainers, and other staff members, our strength and conditioning coaches provide year-round instruction to the team specific to the sport of field hockey.
Our primary overall goals are to improve athletic performance and reduce the occurrence of athletic injuries. Looking at the athletic requirements for field hockey, our program includes training for power, speed, agility, stamina, anaerobic endurance, and position-specific skills. Due to the sport’s rotational movements, core training is also very important.
The NCAA Division I field hockey season runs from mid-August through mid-November. During this time, our main focus is on maintaining basic levels of strength and optimal conditioning.
This is achieved by strength training two days a week. Our first day alternates between a circuit and a traditional style lifting program. Our second day, which is closer to game day, is always a timed bodyweight workout (30 to 45 seconds for each task) with core stability exercises for the abdominals and lower back performed between each bodyweight exercise. (For examples of our circuit, lifting, and bodyweight workouts, see “In-Season” below.)
Throughout the year, our training programs have a total-body emphasis, and the in-season regimen is no different. We also perform a conditioning test early each week during the season to ensure the athletes are maintaining adequate fitness levels.
During the season, and also throughout the year, the team’s conditioning program is made up of long runs, intervals, and speed and agility training. The interval training ranges from eight to 23 sets with distances of 60 yards up to one mile. Speed and agility drills include a lot of balance work and first-step movements. At the beginning of every conditioning workout, the athletes perform an active dynamic warm-up. They finish every conditioning workout with proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) or band stretching.
Major consideration is also given to injury prevention and muscular restoration at this time of year. For example, freshman athletes perform basic triple extension movements instead of more dynamic Olympic movements since Olympic lifts can be difficult to master and there is risk of lifting injuries until athletes are proficient at them. We also make sure strength is maintained at common injury sites. Finally, our restoration efforts include using foam rollers, bands for stretching, and ice baths.
During December, which we consider an active rest period, the players are expected to complete two take-home workouts per week that focus on regaining strength and endurance. The program consists of basic resistance training movements with the objective of rebuilding muscular endurance and letting muscles recover from the competitive season. In addition to the lifting workouts, athletes complete a conditioning program two or three times a week, which is provided by their sport coaches.
When lifting, the athletes are instructed to start with light weights and work up to heavier loads. Before lifting, athletes jog one lap and complete a light movement stretch. (For a sample week of the team’s take-home program, see “Break Time” below.)
Once the athletes return to school following winter break, we begin with some basic testing. This includes the standing long jump, bench press, pull-ups, standing flexibility, timed sit-ups for 60 seconds, and anthropometric measures.
From early January to mid-March, our players do resistance training three days a week, in addition to three days a week of conditioning with each day focusing on either endurance, anaerobic, or speed and agility. (For an example of our resistance training workouts, see “Postseason” below.)
During week eight of this program, we hold a test week for strength, power, anaerobic conditioning levels, and lateral movement speed. The athletes then go into exam week (Ohio State operates on a quarter system) and their spring break, which is considered another active rest period. Each week during this time, players are expected to complete two or three take-home workouts, which are the same as those used during winter break.
When the athletes return from spring break in late March, we begin our spring in-season phase, which includes two or three days of resistance training and two days of speed and agility work. If the team has a game or tournament, we do only two lifting workouts a week. If there is no game scheduled, we add a circuit workout for three total days of strength training.
Our focus throughout this time is maintaining basic levels of strength and optimal conditioning. Because the spring in-season cycle is so short, lasting only through April, we perform a lot of combination movements to get the most out of our time together. The team’s speed and agility work during this phase is performed before practice as part of a warmup. (To see the team’s program during spring game weeks and non-game weeks, see “Spring” below.)
Once the spring cycle is complete in late May, we continue to perform two or three lifting sessions a week and transition our conditioning over to three days of long runs, cardio machine work, and intervals. Just as at the end of the regular season, our focus is on rebuilding muscular endurance and muscle recovery.
After taking two weeks off to rest up for the summer cycle, our final phase takes place in June and July. Whether the athletes stay on campus or not, all of them are given a six-week program. Each week consists of three days of resistance training. (For a sample workout week, see “Preseason” below.)
Our main emphasis is getting the athletes ready for the regular season in the fall. We work on improving muscular strength and endurance as well as flexibility and mobility.
Athletes also perform three or four days of conditioning, including more long runs, which last 45 to 60 minutes, in order to build endurance. Their sport coaches provide a long run/interval training program, and I provide the speed and agility training. We also test the entire team, using standing long jump, pull-ups, standing flexibility, timed sit-ups for 60 seconds, and anthropometric measure, before two-a-days begin.
The author would like to thank Kim Dally-Badgeley, CSCS, USAW, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for Olympic Sports at The Ohio State University, for her help with this article.
The first day of strength work alternates week-to-week between circuits and traditional lifts while the second day is always bodyweight work.
Circuit Day Warmup Ab circuit Dumbbell squat jump combo Forward ball roll/pull-ups Dumbbell Romanian deadlift shrug combo Walking lunge (plate/medicine ball) Dumbbell shoulder combo Physio ball hypers Dumbbell bench/incline press/pushups Zottman/reverse curls Wrist roller/stick twist Four-way stability/medicine ball drill Bench dips/dips Backwards calf raises/wall dorsi flex
Traditional Lifts Day Warmup Abs, 1 x 250 Dumbbell clean/snatch, 2 x cycle Walking lunge (plate/medicine ball), 2 x cycle Bench press/pushups 2 x cycle Physio ball leg curls, 1 x 15 Straight bar shoulder combo, 1 x 8, 10, 12 Two-bar rows/pulls-ups, 1 x 10 Two-way stability, 1 x 15 Medicine ball drill (rotational), 1 x 15 Dips, 1 x UIB Zottman curls, 1 x 10 Wrist roller, 1 x max reps Full good mornings, 1 x 12 Wall dorsi flex, 1 x 50
Bodyweight Day All exercises are performed for 35 to 55 seconds Backwards lunge combo Band single-leg hip thrusts Backwards single-leg squats Pushups/reaches Band seated rows Band shoulder presses Band tricep extensions Band bicep/reverse curls Backwards calf raises Stick twist Superwomans
*UIB = Until it “burns”
Players are sent home with this workout during the winter and spring breaks.
Day One Warmup Crunches, 2 x 50 Pole knee-ups, 2 x 20 Dumbbell jumps, 2 x 8 Squats, 3 x cycle Physio ball leg curls, 2 x 15 Dumbbell bench press, 3 x cycle Dumbbell shoulder press, 2 x 10 Dumbbell bent over rows, 2 x 10 Dips, 2 x UIB Dumbbell bicep curls, 2 x 10 Physio ball reverse hypers, 2 x 15 Wall dorsi flexion, 1 x 50
Day Two Warmup Hand-toe crunches, 2 x 50 Pole leg raise, 2 x 20 Dumbbell jumps, 2 x 8 Squat variation, 3 x cycle Physio ball leg curls, 2 x 15 Dumbbell incline press, 3 x cycle Dumbbell shoulder combo, 2 x 10 Pull-ups/chin-ups, 2 x UIB Tricep push down/kickbacks, 2 x 10 Zottman curls, 2 x 10 Physio ball hypers, 2 x 15 Calf raise series, 1 x 20
*UIB = Until it “burns”
These workouts occur from January to mid-March.
Day One Warmup Crunches, 2 x 50 Leg raise (pole), 2 x 20 Straight bar side bend, 1 x 15 Plyos Power cleans, 4 x cycle Squat variation (diagonal lunge/step up), 3 x cycle Bench press, 4 x cycle Straight bar Romanian deadlift/shrug combo, 2 x 10 Dumbbell shoulder combo, 1 x 12, 10, 8 Dumbbell bent over rows, 2 x 10 Medicine ball twist throw (bosu), 1 x 10 Zottman curls, 1 x 10 Physio ball reverse hypers, 1 x 20 X-band work (lateral), 2 x 40 yds.
Day Two Warmup Hand-toe crunches, 2 x 50 Bench ab twists, 2 x 12 Dumbbell side bend, 1 x 15 Power snatch, 4 x cycle Squats, 4 x cycle Dumbbell incline/bench press, 4 x cycle Physio ball leg curls/glute-ham, 2 x 12/1 x 12 Pull-ups/chin-ups, 2 x (number varies) Band straight-leg rows, 1 x 12 Medicine ball twist throw (straight-leg), 1 x 10 Reverse curls, 1 x 10 Straight bar/dumbbell wrist curls, 2 x 15 Physio ball hypers, 1 x 20 Wall dorsi flexion, 1 x 50
Day Three Warmup Reverse crunches, 2 x 50 Russian twists, 1 x 10 Landmines, 1 x 15 Plyos Triple extensions, 4 x cycle Squat variation (lateral), 3 x cycle Incline press, 4 x cycle Physio ball/straight-leg leg curls/glute-ham, 2 x 12/1 x 10 Straight bar shoulder combo, 1 x 8, 10, 12 Dips, 1 x UIB Dumbbell twists, 2 x 10 Wrist rollers, 2 x max reps Good mornings, 2 x 10 X-band work (lateral), 2 x 40 yds.
UIB = Until it “burns”
Spring workouts include a lot of combination movements.
Day One Warmup Hand-toe crunches, 2 x 50 Plyo sit-ups (circle), 1 x 15 Dumbbell side bends, 1 x 20 Medicine ball combo (power clean/push jerk/front squat), 3 x Cycle Bench press + kettlebell, 1 x 27 Lateral squats + kettlebell, 1 x 10 Physio ball straight-leg leg curls/bodyweight hamstring stand, 1 x 15/12 Straight bar shoulder combo, 1 x 8, 10, 12 Dips, 1 x UIB Reverse hypers, 1 x 15 Dumbbell/straight bar wrist curls, 1 x 15 Band work (lateral), 1 x 40 yds.
Day Two Warmup Crunches, 2 x 50 Plyo sit-ups (side-to-side), 1 x 30 Decline bench twist crunch, 1 x 15 Triple extensions, 3 x cycle Incline press + kettlebell, 1 x 27 reps Single-leg squats, 1 x 10 Dumbbell straight-leg Romanian deadlift/glute ham, 1 x 10/12 Pull-ups/chin-ups (negative), 1 x (number varies) Dumbell bicep curls, 1 x UIB Hypers, 1 x 15 Wrist rollers, 1 x max reps Wall dorsi flexion, 1 x 50
Day Three Warmup Abs circuit Squat to press (behind neck press), 1 x 6 Clean to front squats, 1 x 6 Burpee to jump, 1 x 10 Bike sprint or jump rope, 30-second intervals Pull-up plus hold, 6 x 30 seconds Pushup and reach, 6 each side Exaggerated V-up and roll, 10 each side Dumbbell/kettlebell swing, 30-second intervals
UIB = Until it “burns”
These workouts prepare athletes for the upcoming season.
Day One Warmup Crunches, 2 x 50 Special 40s/side bends, 2 x max reps Plyos Power clean, 4 x cycle Squat variation (linear), 4 x cycle Bench press, 4 x cycle Pushups (medicine or physio ball), 1 x UIB Straight bar shoulder combo, 1 x 8, 10, 12 Dumbbell bent over rows, 2 x 10 Medicine ball circuit Zottman curls, 2 x 10 Reverse hypers/quarters, 2 x 15/10 Wall dorsi flexion/Groucho walks, 2 x 50/40 yds.
Day Two Warmup Stick crunches, 2 x 40 Pole knee-ups (side-to-side), 2 x 20 Dumbbell squat/jump combo, 4 x cycle Squats, 4 x cycle Dumbbell incline/bench press, 1 x 32 Physio ball leg curls/glute-ham, 2 x 15/12 Straight-leg squats or leg press, 2 x 10 Pull-ups/chin-ups, 2 x max reps Medicine ball circuit Straight bar curls, 2 x 10 + 1 x UIB Hypers/quarters, 2 x 15/10 Calf raise series, 2 x 20
Day Three Warmup Medicine ball crunches, 2 x 25 Plyo sit-ups (side-to-side), 2 x 20 Plyos Power snatch, 4 x cycle Squat variation (lateral), 4 x cycle Incline press, 4 x cycle Pushups (medicine or physio ball), 1 x UIB Physio ball straight-leg curls/BW hamstring stand, 2 x 15/1 x 10 Dumbbell shoulder combo, 2 x 12, 10, 8 Dips and dumbbell floor press, 2 x UIB Wrist roller/curls, 2 x 10 Full/bench good mornings, 2 x 12 Wall dorsi flexion/Groucho walks, 2 x 50/40 yds.
UIB = Until it “burns”