Move over soccer - we've got a new world game and it's a classic Olympic sport.
Hockey is played in 114 recognised nations and will again become a focus during National Hockey Week, which runs from May 28 to June 5.
Hockey is the new quadruple threat to having fun and keeping healthy: it's perfect for fitness, it’s fun, you’ll feel fab mentally and physically, and it’s a sport for life!
We spoke to Hockeyroo superstar Jane Claxton (pictured below) about the benefits of playing hockey and life at the sport’s elite level.
A 2015 study, conducted in Turkey and published the United States Sport Academy, reveals that hockey players have enhanced bio-motor abilities like endurance, strength, speed and flexibility.
Not only that, it was shown that a game of hockey helps burn body fat, between 500-700 calories per hour.
With these statistics for the average player, we can only imagine what happens at Olympic level.
Jane filled us in.
“We train six days a week, averaging five hours a day.
“We are on the pitch every training day, combining gym and yoga – we run around 8km every training but as Olympics looms closer it's more like 10kms.”
Hockey has the potential to improve your fitness beyond what you thought yourself capable; all you have to do is start!
Many team-based sports can boast a positive effect on players’ mental abilities, but hockey has more bragging rights than most, having a significant effect on cognitive function, especially faster reaction time.
A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience conducted an MRI of fifteen hockey players.
It was found the players had quicker levels of prediction mechanisms than the average athlete.
This makes sense, as hockey is one of the fastest moving ball sports.
Jane tells us it’s not just the reaction speed that comes in handy but the mental resilience.
“Every day you come to training, trying to improve.
“At this level, it’s big improvements and it's the smallest of small, sometimes you don't know you’re improving.
“You’re always thinking about what you need to improve on at the next training and where you are in the scheme of selection.”
Jane finds that hockey fosters skills and positive attitudes that are present in all aspects of her life, particularly in her study of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University.
“In my case it’s study, for others it’s work.”
The idea of starting a hockey career may to some of us seem quite daunting.
Jane wants to put your minds at ease, telling us that hockey is a fun game that develops deep bonds with teammates.
“In the national team, we all come from different states, we become each other's best friends and family.
“We all go through some of the hardest moments in our lives whether that be on or off the field so that, if anything, ties you closer together.”
4. For Life
Most of us love playing sport, but often our bodies let us down.
In the case of hockey however, it truly is a sport for life.
“Don’t be scared,” says Jane, “it’s for all ages and there are so many divisions and age groups that there will be a team and skill level for you.”
This was the case in the 2014 World Cup where Jane’s father Bob Claxton coached Australia’s over-65s Masters team to a silver medal, standing alongside his daughter, who picked up silver with the Hockeyroos.
It’s this type of family moment that typifies hockey, and asked if Jane would play hockey for life she responded,
“I hope I do.”
With National Hockey Week nearly upon us – make sure you get out and grab a stick and ball, head to your local club and get involved.
Whether or not you’re Australia’s next Olympic hero, you’ll certainly benefit from hockey’s quadruple threat; fit, fab, fun, and for life.