Why hockey can be a pain in the elbow

tennis elbow

It has all sorts of names: tennis elbow; golfers elbow; lateral epicondylitis; medial epicondylitis – but I just call it elbow pain. I know lots of hockey players of a certain age, usually over 40, who have their elbow strapped up during matches and complain of pain.Interestingly, it’s also usually their left arm.

I had the same sort of pain where you don’t feel it too much during the match because the adrenaline is pumping but at other times it’s painful to touch anywhere around the elbow. It also hurts when you pick up objects or use your joint. Mine seemed to move around, sometimes it was on the outside of the elbow and sometimes on the inside. A bit of googling reveals these are commonly called tennis elbow (on the outside of the joint) and golfers elbow (on the inside of the joint).

It seemed to have the same type of symptoms so I’m arguing for the creation of a new name – hockey elbow. Although actually, my brother plays a lot of cricket and he has it too so we figured it was probably because of similar action and forces the sports exert on the left elbow.

Meanwhile, I also upped my strength training regime with a personal trainer. A tough 45-minute session each week lifting heavy weights and some more home sessions in the rest of the week. I was worried it would aggravate the hockey-elbow but strangely the more I lifted weights the better it seemed to get.

I am convinced that a whole regime of upper body strength work, including bicep girls, tricep dips – the whole lot – has improved the bad elbow.


I also used a FlexBar for elbow exercises and this has helped too. I keep it by my desk at work to remind me to use it every other day during a quick coffee break.

Confidence on the hockey pitch


Woman, Girl, Balloon, Thought Bubble, Think, Thoughts

You can usually tell which hockey team is winning at first glance, even before you’ve heard the score. The losers are the ones with the closed, negative body language: heads down, shoulders slumped, eyes down.

If you feel nervous and lack confidence on the pitch, the first thing to do is avoid this negative, losing body language. Some teams, often the bottom-league ones used to losing every week, have it from the start of the match. To feel more confident…

# Fake it until you make it. Don’t send your opponent, or team mates for that matter, the message that you are feeling nervous and worried. Instead, hold you head up, hold your chest up, shoulders back. Tell yourself ‘I own this pitch today and I’m going to play some of my best hockey.’

# Avoid dwelling on mistakes. Hockey inevitably has mistakes and nobody plays a perfect game so if you mess up and miss a shot, take a breath and move on mentally. Refocus, using positive body language  (shoulders back, eyes up, etc).

# If you feel under pressure consciously slow your breathing. When you are under pressure everything speeds up, including your thoughts, movements and your breathing. Take a deep breath, breathing in and out slowly as you wait for the match to start. Take a slow, deep-belly breath. Inhale through the nose and you’ll feel your stomach expand. Slowly exhale through the mouth, as if breathing out the stress. Drop your shoulders.

# Use the ‘thought replacement’ technique to ease worries. Before the match identify the situation where you feel negative thoughts racing through your mind and plan a phrase you will say to yourself to replace those thoughts. Imagine a ‘stop sign’ in your mind’s eye when you start negative self-talk and replace with something more positive.

# Do some pre-match positive visualisation. Think about what you’d like to happen and imagine it in your mind over and over. Close your eyes whenever you have a couple of spare minutes and imagine yourself playing at your best.


GB women’s team look sexy to gain press coverage

team gb photo shoot

GB Women’s hockey team members have taken part in a photo shoot on behalf of their sponsors Investec (see still from photo shoot above). It appeared here in Telegraph Sport. The article also has lots more interesting information and stats about hockey and the GB team that make it well worth reading.

But should women hockey players don spectacularly high heels, crop tops and make-up to gain some coverage for the sponsors – or is this simply sexist stereotyping? Women’s sport has barely any coverage in the British national papers and women’s hockey virtually none. I frequently pick up the sports sections of a UK paper and there’s not a single image of a woman in there. Yet, here are the team getting full coverage just because they are dressed up and looking pretty.

Perhaps it wouldn’t matter so much if they achieved more regular coverage for their sporting abilities. However, the last time I saw a picture of a GB women hockey player in the paper it was Kate Richardson-Walsh with her broken jaw at the 2012 Olympics.

I went to the Rabobank hockey world cup in 2014 which seemed a big sporting deal to me – although as a hockey fanatic I may be biased. I missed the final few matches and looked for coverage of them in the British press.

All I could find were a few side-bar news in brief pieces. Hardly any coverage at all – let alone pictures of hockey players. Let alone pictures of women hockey players. Would have been nice to have seen a report and image of the women’s final.

I feel disappointed that these amazing women are forced to glam up and teeter around in ridiculously high heels to gain coverage for their sponsor. I’d like to see more images of them in their sporting kit and in action. Apparently, Richardson-Walsh would rather see images of sports women in action and wishes they didn’t have to pose for sexy pictures to get attention.

What do you think?

Secrets of focus and confidence on the pitch – lessons from golf

Your ability to perform under pressure can be as important as your physical skills. Here are some tips gleaned from golf…

According to Robin Sieger, author of Golf’s Moment of Truth: How to play under pressure and avoid the choke point, we choke under pressure because we fear something going wrong that is our own fault. We then fail to operate intuitively and our actions stop flowing in the involuntary manner they have been trained to do through practice. We become too self aware.

Fear of losing is a strong emotion. Sieger recommends learning to accept it as part of the process and enjoyment of the sport you love. You’ll eventually get used to it. Rehearse negative scenarios that could happen and think about what you would do to manage any potential situation.

Sieger has clients visualise a stressful situation on the golf course, one which in competition would create tension and the likelihood of a bad shot. While they are visualising this, he then asks them to visualise playing the shot perfectly. This familiarises them with playing a shot under pressure. Golfers, he says, need to rehearse mentally, off the course, what they will do in a pressure situation on it.

“The more we do this, the deeper in our subconscious will we embed the memory of managing pressure on the course. When we find ourselves in competition for real, and face a pressure shot that we have visualised a hundred times or more,we will have the memory of having hit the shot just the way we want it.”4

Train yourself faster and fitter for hockey

An elite midfielder will cover 9k during a game, according to a report in England Hockey magazine. The best way to boost fitness for the pitch is via sprint drills and gym work, says the report.

The Ladder (also called Suicide Runs)

Set up five cones in a line, all equal distance apart. The distance from cone one to cone five should be about 20 to 40 yards depending on your fitness. Start at the first cone, sprint to the second, touch then back to the first cone. Then to the second cone, touch and sprint back to the first. Then the third, fourth, fifth, fourth again, third, second and finish. Complete exercise in sets of five – climbing up and down the ladder is one set.


Set up four cones in a T-shape – three in a line and one forming the stem of the T. Carry out the exercise as shown on the video clip above.

Gym fitness

Strengthen your legs and core. Try…

Cable Lat Pull Down.

Grasp with a wide grip, pull down seated with straight back. Pull bar to upper chest and return. Works your back increasing your power and downswing while hitting.

Barbell squat

Position barbell high on the back of your shoulders. Bend knees, keep back straight. Descend until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Builds quad strength to improve acceleration and explosive power.

Romanian deadlift

Works hamstrings, lower back, upper back, abs – strengthens core while working tendons most likely to be injured during hockey.

Short or tall – don’t look at others, play to your own strengths, says Mark Knowles

Mark Knowles talks to juniors

In this clip Mark Knowles is talking to some junior players. At 19.20 minutes in he talks about why it’s important to play to your strengths. This resonated with me as I’m very petite!

“Don’t look at what everyone else is doing. Play to your own strengths and attributes,” he says.

Dubbed the best player in the world, Jamie Dwyer, is small but excellent. Mark Knowles says that there’s lots of smaller players and they play to their strengths “size isn’t everything. Not every

He also says trapping is one of the most important skills in hockey. If you don’t get that right you can’t do much on the pitch.

He says he’s not the strongest himself but plays to his strengths which are outletting and reading the game.

The big guys also have their role to play in hockey. They are strong on the ball and hard to get off the ball.

“If we were all the same we’d be no good as a team,” he says.

What takes you to a higher level is movement off the ball. When juniors pass they often stay still but when experienced players pass the ball they immediately move.