5 Ways To Prepare For Field Hockey Trials And Big Games

Have you ever been incredibly nervous for field hockey trials or so worried that you mess up in a big game that you started to overthink and underperform?

You are not alone.

This key to deal with this preparation, both physically and mentally.

By knowing what you need to do and how to prepare for field hockey trials and big games, you will feel more confident in your ability to perform in those crucial moments.


First, take a moment to think about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months… 

For example it could be to make a state or national team, maybe you want to reach HIPAC/Futures Cup or it could be to play at a higher level or move up a team.

Once you’ve decided what you want, the next step is to work out what you need to do to achieve it.

This is often where a lot of people go wrong.

Understand that there’s a difference between working hard and working smart.

People often think that working hard is about how much time you put in. But training 7 days a week or going for a jog everyday is not the best way to prepare.

Basically more is NOT necessarily better.

Working smarter is much better because it is about being effective with your time and getting the best results with the time you have.

It’s looking at the bigger picture.

Preparation is vital for success.

A common question I am asked is: “How can I best prepare for trials?”

Now this will vary for each person as it does depend on a number of factors, but for the sake of this article I’ve tried to highlight just a few key area’s that will help you in your preparation.

Do these if you want the best chance of being successful over the next few months.

5 Ways To Prepare For Trials & Big Games:

#1 – Strength train

One of the biggest mistakes hockey people make is either not doing any or not doing the right kind of strength training (i.e. weights). This is such an essential part not just for improving your performance but also reducing your risk of injury.

The right program will help to prepare your body for the demand of hockey and will also improve your speed/explosiveness, first step quickness and power. Doing strength training is beneficial for all positions, including goalkeepers.

When your body feels fit and strong, you feel more confident.

#2 – Use a plan, not a workout

I’ve noticed that most hockey players that do any training tend to follow more of a random approach. Instead of just picking a few exercises you think you should be doing, or doing the same workout for weeks, even months on end, it would be better to follow a structured plan which is ideally specific to your needs (i.e. training age, level, goals, time of season, etc).

There are various area’s of fitness required for hockey (i.e. endurance, flexibility, strength, power, speed, agility, etc) and you can’t improve everything at once, so you need a plan that works on each area at different times of the year.

A training PLAN looks at the bigger picture such as what you do on a weekly basis (over a full year), when you need to peak and will address any muscular imbalances.

Having a plan will also ensure that you keep making progress. Tracking your progress is important to make sure the program is working and also helps motivation levels.

#3 – Condition your mind

Many players are their own worst enemy, often getting in their own way of their performance.

When we make a mistake we tend to think it’s our physical skill letting us down, but understand that if you can do something in training but tend to mess it up in a game, it is more likely a mental error rather than a physical error.

How we handle our emotions in these key moments is automatic from our unconscious mind and is influenced by our beliefs, past experiences and our daily actions, which creates our habits.

For example:

If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do (e.g. a fitness session) the message this sends to your brain is that you are not fully committed or prepared.

This creates a pattern which then keep repeating and without you realising you can self sabotage yourself from being successful…

The best way to condition your mind, develop your mental toughness and to push yourself 100% is to have someone (like a mentor) to be accountable to. Someone who will challenge you and ask you the right questions which will help you to improve.

Who are you accountable to?

#4 – Watch what you eat

What we eat directly affects how we feel. Most hockey players are not eating enough of the right kinds of food. For example not getting enough protein in their diet.

As a sports person food is fuel which also affects your levels of energy on the field.

It’s not just what you eat but how much you’re eating and when you’re eating. Eat too much and you may feel sluggish or bloated. Eat too little and you will feel tired or lazy.

I would also recommend you calculate your BMR (base metabolic rate; not your BMI) and what you need based on how much exercise you’re doing. Then track and make a note of what you’re eating for 3 days to make sure your nutritional needs are met.

#5 – Visualise Success

Do you ever question whether you’re good enough to achieve what you really want?

If you worry about messing up or letting your team down then you’re more likely to do just that. Something I always say is:

“If you want to be a champion, you first have to learn how to think like a champion”

Take a moment to imagine what it will look and feel like once you achieve your goals?

Your brain responds to images and emotions so doing this puts you into an empowered mental state where you are more likely to take action. You’ll need to do this frequently over time to build momentum and create a habit of taking action.

I use various proven sports psychology techniques to help others improve their confidence and manage their emotions in sport. In fact, it’s where I’ve seen the biggest shifts and best results with the sports people I work with.

Yes physical preparation is necessary, but your mind is the KEY to success.

Many people don’t realise they can develop their mind and make the mistake of thinking that mental game training is a sign of weakness or is only necessary if you have a problem.

But that’s not true.

In fact it’s a sign of strength and can help you improve massively and achieve things beyond what you think is possible right now.

Our challenge is often to think bigger. 

Why can’t you make that team?

What is really stopping you? Yourself?

There are several mental skills that need to be developed if you want to play at a higher level. By learning how to train your mind you will feel more confident and perform better more consistently as a result.

To find out how you can personally take your game to the next level, request a FREE 30 min Strategy Session here

About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.