You’d think bagging a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics would be the highlight of your athletic career. But when you’re eyeing up a win at the World Cup, on home turf no less, perhaps you really can reach new highs.
The Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 is taking place this summer, and we’re proud to announce that Harrogate Spring Water is the official water, so we asked our friends in the England Women’s Hockey team to reveal their ride to peak performance – and to this summer’s main event.
From roller hockey to Rio
These girls are on a roll. Goalkeeper and England captain Maddie ‘Mad Dog’ Hinch, forward Sophie Bray and defender Zoe Shipperley, follow a strict regime of healthy living, training and travel, and the results are paying off. In fact, they’re one of the favourites to win the World title in July and August
Whilst donning an England or GB shirt must make the players feel like they have the dream job, the journey offers much more than just pitch success.
Take the friendship for a start. Like many youngsters, British player Sophie Bray played a multitude of sports as she grew up, including roller hockey with friends. Now 27, she says it’s still the friendship that gets her through, even at professional level, explaining: “International sport is a rollercoaster. With the highs come the lows. But you get to share those incredible moments with your best mates.”
Gum shields and tennis rackets at the ready
Defender Zoe Shipperley is another advocate for encouraging kids to try different sporting disciplines. She says, “Once you go down the road of ‘okay I’m going to focus on hockey’, you’re in it for a while.”
Playing multi-sports means building multi-skills – and not just physical ones like coordination or strength. Communication, leadership, strategy, confidence, managing the highs and lows of competition – they’re all exercises in keeping our minds and emotions in check.
“We are also encouraged to have dual aspirations,” Shipperley continues. “I finished Uni and went to start my teacher training.” Now, taking steps to get into childminding, Shipperley says, “I just want to enjoy life. If I enjoy something, I get behind it and thrive!”.
Prepare to win
Once you’ve found your forte and – as in goalkeeper Maddie Hinch’s case are padded up from head to toe – you’ll feel ready to take on the world. Hinch says, “We train really hard to make sure we just feel ready. For me, I feel ready when I’ve done a lot of homework and I know the players that I’m coming up against. We plan for different potential outcomes, like a penalty shootout. Then, when it comes to performing under pressure, you feel like you’re just going through the motions.”
The recent team GB success is certainly giving women’s hockey the limelight it deserves. Shipperley concludes, “The World Cup is a showcase for us and we love that we get to entertain everyone. But the real story behind hockey is those who are going back to grassroots and club level.”
We don’t know about you, but these brilliant women have inspired us to dust off our shinpads and get back into hockey ourselves – but where to start? Visit the England Hockey website to find your local club or try a Back to Hockey session.