Q&A with GB Hockey Captain Kate Walsh

Forget running knickers and communal showers, hockey has come a long way since PE lessons.A new programme from England Hockey is making it easy to refresh your skills or take up the game for the first time. Team GB’s Olympic bronze-medal winning captain Kate Walsh tells us why it’s sociable, fun and has cured her addiction to cookies.

Last weekend the Duchess of Cambridge was photographed playing hockey at her old school. We had a feature about hockey planned so we were like ‘yes, that’ll be nice and timely’. Then she announced she was pregnant, completely overshadowing any hockey playing antics. Way to sabotage our SEO Kate.

Anyway, she was right. Hockey is fun. And whether you loved it at school or spent your PE lessons skiving behind the bike sheds, now is a great time to pick up a stick and get playing. England Hockey’s Back to Hockey Programme offers six to eight week programmes suitable for complete beginners or those who used to play and want to refresh their skills. No running knickers required.

Kate Wash tells us why she loves the sport, talks about that fractured jaw (ouch), her training and nutrition


Like most people I started playing hockey at secondary school as well as netball, lacrosse and athletics. I come from a sporty family and was definitely a sporty kid. What I really loved about it then, and now, was being part of a team. Some of the girls might have ignored you if they saw you in the corridor but on the pitch we were all friends.

Hockey welcomes everyone regardless of age, race, sexuality. It may sound cheesy but we call it the Hockey Family. There’s a group of guys who are around 70 at my hockey club. They might not be as able as they were but they still enjoy it. I love watching them play.

Back to Hockey is a really relaxed way to start playing. It’s less competitive, very friendly and sociable and you don’t have to commit to playing every week so it’s easy to fit around your life. Sessions are tailored to the people in the group so they’ll teach you the basics, right from holding a stick correctly if you’ve never picked one up before.

As well as being a great cardio workout, hockey targets the top of your legs, bum, waist and back. You definitely tone up and develop a strong core.

Kate Middleton came to one of our squad training days before the Olympics and played on the pitch with us. She came to watch three of our games and even sent me a personal note when I was in hospital (Kate fractured her jaw in Team GB’s opening match against Japan. She missed two matches but after surgery returned to the tournament. What a hero). She’s a real hockey fan but unfortunately, due to her position, she can’t really play anymore.

I don’t really remember the pain when I fractured my jaw. But I trusted my surgeon. He gave me the confidence to get back out and play. I’d been training hard for so many years and put so much into it that not seeing it through would have been horrendous.

When we’re in our central training programme we train twice a day. As well as playing hockey we have three weights sessions a week and lots of interval training and running – usually sprints of varying speeds for 70 minutes.

We work with a nutritionist and eat good healthy food. I used to be addicted to cookies but I don’t crave bad food any more as our meals are so tasty. The nutritionist introduced more protein to our diets and it made a real difference. Too many carbs make me feel heavy. For breakfast I have muesli with Greek yoghurt, blueberries, agave nectar and pineapple juice. After training sessions I’ll have a protein shake or bar. Lunch is something like a chicken salad wrap with yoghurt and fruit. For dinner I eat a lot of stir-fries with plenty of veg and some protein. I’ll have dark chocolate in moderation – a couple of squares – but I still can’t go down the cookie aisle at the supermarket.

We’ll be training on Christmas morning, probably a running session or circuits. It means I can tuck into that big roast with no guilt!


To find places to play or watch hockey near you visit www.hockeynation.info

For more info on Back to Hockey visit http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=957&sectionTitle=Take+Part

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