Iain Lewers talks fitness testing and hill sprints

Iain Lewers in action for England at the NOW Pensions Nations Cup 450

The Great Britain men’s centralised squad has just returned to pitch-based training following a gruelling month of fitness at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. The four week block is known as physical development focus and includes an increased level of gym work, running sessions and weekly hill sprints. The one thing that isn’t on the timetable for Head Coach Bobby Crutchley’s squad is playing hockey!

Great Britain and England’s Iain Lewers likens his month of January to that of pre-season fitness training for club players before the league gets underway in September. We caught up with the Holcombe defender to find out a bit more about the sessions.

Q. A lot of people would dread the idea of a month of hill sprints and fitness testing without getting chance to pick up a hockey stick! Is that the case with the squad or do you look forward to January?

“I don’t think we dread them as such. It’s only four weeks of the year for this particular block of work so you just have to make sure you are mentally, as well as physically, up for it. I think perhaps you physically dread it because you know what you’re about to put your body through and it is tough when it’s just a running block, but everyone is going through the same pain and we help each other through it.”

Q. Do you get to have any fun with the sessions or does everyone take them very seriously?

“It is all quite serious and obviously when you’re doing intense training like that I wouldn’t say much banter goes on during the sessions, but we do create certain scenarios during some of the sessions to detract from the running. As part of the hill training we carry 20 kilo bags on our backs, but instead of doing it individually we’re put into teams. The net result is still improved fitness, but we get each other through it and it’s more rewarding in groups. It’s a real test of character and our level of mental resilience is being challenged as much as our physical abilities at times. Having said that, in a group of 30 guys there’s normally someone who will crack a joke and lighten the mood at the end of an exhausting set.”

Q. And now you’re back out on the pitch at Bisham Abbey and with your club [Holcombe], do you notice a difference going back after a block of training like that?

“Yes definitely. Perhaps not in the first few sessions because everyone’s lacking a bit of sharpness on the ball after a break away, but once the tempo improves you really start to feel the benefits. On top of the physical benefits I think I can speak for the whole team when I say we all really look forward to picking up our sticks and getting back on the pitch!”

As the squad is enjoying its phase back on the pitch the team is looking forward to an action packed 2015 which includes Olympic Qualification at the World League Semi Final in Belgium in June and EuroHockey Championships [as England] on home turf on Olympic Park in August.

As part of their preparations for the year ahead Great Britain are playing against defending Olympic and European Champions Germany in the Nations Cup on home turf on Tuesday 14 April at 7pm. Click here to find out more and book your tickets.