6 Stages of a GB Hockey Players Pre-Match Routine

Steph Elliott: GB Hockey Players Pre-Match Routine

There is a lot that can be learnt from chatting to top hockey players about how they do their thing and chatting to GB Squad member, Steph Elliott about how she prepares herself for her weekly premier league fixtures, was certainly no exception!

Steph talked me through 6 key stages of her preparation routine – revealing many useful tips along the way.

Step 1: Organise 

Steph’s first stage of preparation begins the night before a game, when she lays out all the kit that she will be needing for the next day. As it does for many top athletes, this early organisation allows Steph’s morning focus to be directed entirely towards the task in hand. Although Steph declares that this is the only thing that she does to organise herself for a game, her real preparations have been taking place for months prior to the game, as a rigorous training regime and good diet ensure that she is always ready to perform to her best.hockey kit

Lesson: In addition to having knowledge about proper training and nutrition, finding an individualised match-day routine which works for you and learning to eliminate any distractions can be one step towards enhancing performance. 

Step 2: Wake-up

Provided an early start is not required, Steph always sets her alarm for between 8am-9am, no matter how late in the day the match is scheduled for. Having a regular sleep pattern is important in ensuring that Steph is getting the right amount of sleep and is therefore able to approach the game with optimum focus.

garfield alarm

Lesson: Getting enough sleep is a hugely important part of overall health, and can certainly have an impact on performance. A lack of sleep does not just make you groggy, grumpy and unfocussed, but can in fact have a hugely detrimental impact on overall health. Learning to implement a regular sleep schedule and the methods to achieve this, is one step in the direction of making you a better hockey player.

Step 3: Have a good breakfast

For breakfast, Steph enjoys a bowl of porridge and adds to it; sunflower seeds, chocolate peanut protein powder and a squeeze of honey – something which she never gets sick of! This healthy meal is always eaten three hours before the game to make sure that is properly digested, yet also provides Steph with enough slow-release energy to sustain performance and the protein needed for muscles.


Lesson: Eating right before a game is something that can seem simple, but an aspect of performance preparation that many players have not yet perfected. Hockey players should aim to apply their knowledge of good nutrition with a routine which works for them. This will not only provide your body with the sustenance it needs for high-intensity activity, but can give you the peace of mind to know that your body can handle any situation.

Step 4: Visualisation

On the way to the game, Steph starts to visualise what she is going to do with the ball in a variety of different situations, and begins to get excited about the game ahead. Steph often imagines herself receiving the ball and looking forward, in addition to seeing herself execute 3D skills. She admits to “loving a crowd”, and always includes one during her visualisations.Pre-match preparation

Lesson: Visualisation is an often disregarded aspect of athlete development, but one that can be hugely beneficial (provided the correct techniques are learnt). The process of perfecting visualisation can take many years, but also carries the danger of having a detrimental effect on performance if not done correctly. With the right knowledge and guidance, mental rehearsal can have the ability to help make you into the player that you imagine. 

Step 5: Changing room preparation

Once coming out of the visualisation period and arriving at the game venue, Steph likes to take the opportunity to take her mind off the game, for the sake of not over-thinking. Steph enjoys to chat with her teammates, have a good laugh, “chill out” and munch on jelly-babies which give her that last little boost of energy. One part of this changing-room preparation is routine; as although not particularly superstitious, Steph, like many athletes, likes to have some form of regularity.

Photo by Ady Kerry

Photo by Ady Kerry

Lesson: The period immediately before the warm up is often very individualistic. Whilst some players may like to chat, others may prefer to have time by themselves, or use music to get motivated. Good hockey players will know what works for them but also respect the routines of their teammates. Superstitions are also very individualistic, but can require management. Again, developing an individualised routine based upon knowledge and practised techniques can be a decisive factor in taking your game to the next level. 

Step 6: Warm up

Although not really enjoying this essential part of her routine, Steph despises a bad warm up and also recognises the importance of getting her heart and muscles up to game-speed. Steph’s warm-up time therefore is time to focus, and get the job done… in her own words; “do it, focus, play. BOOM!” Depending on the team that she is representing, the warm-up can take various forms, but will almost invariably include; running, dynamic stretching, small-sided game play and specific set-play preparation.steph-elliott

Lesson: A good warm-up is extremely important, not only in ensuring that your body is up-to-speed and injury prevention, but in making sure that you have your eye in the game in preparation for those first few critical minutes. In some cases, the first few minutes can be the decisive ones, whereby a slow start can dictate a loss. Knowing how to thoroughly prepare therefore, is of utmost importance. 

Want help with preparation to take your game to the next level? We offer a range of programs designed for field hockey players worldwide. Find out more here

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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.