At Hockey Wales I'm responsible for the strength and conditioning programming for well over a 100 athletes. We have two senior teams (men and women), two National age grade teams (NAG boys and NAG girls) and the tier just below NAGs, our 360 athletes. I've been to numerous competitions including European championships, world league, and London cup. I've travelled with the teams to many places including Scotland, France, Belgium, Gran Canaria, Greece, Malaysia and Australia. The last of these was for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018. But what does a strength and conditioning coach actually do once there?
A typical day would start sometime between 5 a.m and 6 a.m depending on whether or not we have an early match. The first job of the day is to collect 'pee pots' for hydration analysis. This is sometimes completed by the physio, sometimes by the manager and sometimes by the S&C. I'd then typically meet up with the players for a primer if we have a match later that day or activation. The former takes two main forms: cognitive priming (lots of activity with different coloured balls, for example, requiring the players to take different actions depending on the colour of the ball coming to them) or physical priming (like plyometrics or short sprints). Activation is normally based on individual need and might involve a very specific stretch routine; sometimes, though, it is generic dynamic stretching. This period of the day provides a great opportunity check in with the players that they've completed their daily monitoring; the data goes straight into a data platform so the staff can track sleep status, mood, physical status and hydration.
After that it's fuelling time: breakfast. At the Commonwealth Games, the biggest room in the village is the food hall where the 6,500 athletes and staff dine. There's food from every corner of the globe served. The teams are very good at fuelling - they understand the principles of POP. High quality protein is always on the plate and the players get the importance of nutrients and energy. This sets them up well for the rest of the day.
Many of these systems are adapted to my work as a personal trainer in Lancaster and the surrounding area. The POP nutrition system used by the athletes is the same as the system used by my personal training clients. You can read more about this on the main website.
Dr.Mark Mullineaux is the strength and conditioning lead for Hockey Wales.