Euro hockey champs Netherlands fitness mantra in India

February 8th, 2009 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 8 (IANS) A set of stretching exercises is the fitness mantra of European hockey champions Netherlands in tough conditions in India.
They have qualified for the final of the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament and are looking to pose a tough challenge for India in Monday’s title clash.

“Present hockey has become very demanding due to stiff schedules, mounting pressure and demanding conditions. This also increases the risk of injuries and some times even career threatening injuries to the players,” Jan Stappenbelt, physiotherapist and fitness trainer of the Dutch team told IANS Sunday.

“Keeping all such factors in mind, we have drafted an amalgamation of various stretching exercises, after studying the Indian conditions. These exercises were earlier not in our routine. Besides, we also focus on relaxing, meditation and recreation exercises to reinforce the mental strength of the players,” said Stappenbelt.

He said European hockey is entirely different from what is played in India, as their game is faster and more based on short moves.

“The team is playing in India after a long gap and World Cup-2010 is on every player’s mind that will be held here. We also have a psychological advantage over India in this series as we scored more points so far,” pointed out Stappenbelt.

Emphasising on the fact that European players always beat their opponents on the fitness front, Stappenbelt said: “If we compare the fitness level of our players with their Asian counterparts then we are far ahead. We have a special plan for every individual in the team and work according to it.”

Stappenbelt said that he monitors the players’ fitness level on regular basis in short intervals. “We also record the practice session of the players to identify their shortcomings and we also tie an equipment on players’ chest to check their heart rate,” he said.

“Over the last few months, based on our experience that we have gained by playing in various countries especially in Australia, we have formulated unique running and walking exercises. We emphasised more on the intake of protein rich diet and avoid fatty stuff.”

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