The Red Panthers, the women’s national hockey team, prepare for the World Cup, which begins July 1. Yesterday national team coach Raoul Ehren made his final choice. And that selection has improved dramatically, especially on a physical level, thanks in part to their physical coach Hannes Agache: “In the past, young players never got fit, and now we’re there at least two or three times a week.”
Construction site in 2015
2015. The Red Panthers barely qualified for the Olympics in Rio. There is discontent within the team. A number of women complain about the physical condition of the team. “At the time, fitness was the last thing to focus on.”
In 2015, physical preparation was the last thing to focus on.
Speaks: Hannes Agache, the man unexpectedly brought in in 2015, to change the entire philosophy of Red Panthers training. He was one of the founders of the introduction of physical training and strength exercises.
“Gradually we have recovered an underlying condition. If we look back at that period, there is a very big difference.”
Step 1: Explain why
Agache had to start at the beginning: “Explain why physical training is so important, how to approach heart rate measurement and GPS data and above all how to translate everything for the athlete.”
“The athletes had to find out what they were training for. They had little awareness of it at the time.”
The athletes had little idea of the purpose for which they were training.
Step 2: Get more sports
Once you win the hockey women’s trust, it’s time to get to work.
“After that, the main thing was to get more exercise through physical exertion tests and controlled endurance training. Once the condition improved, we can work on strength.”
“When I started at U21 in 2012, girls had never seen a fitness inside, there was no such thing as strength training. Meanwhile, all the girls who enter our program go to the fitness center once or twice a week.”
“This power base will never go away, our girls now have a fitness session up to 3 times a week. Even if there is a week off, girls are still expected to go to the gym and walk a few times a week.”
The mentality has now really shifted to the mentality of top athletes. It makes them feel wrong when they have to rest for a week.
“Fortunately, the girls themselves are also becoming more responsible for their bodies. If there was no exercise in the program for a week, it would be wrong for them. That’s a good development, now the mindset has really shifted to higher athletes.”
Big difference with the club level
Agash stresses that the club’s playing style is incompatible with the international standard. “Playing for the national team is also very different from club level. In their club, players sometimes play for 70 minutes without sitting on the bench for one minute. Then they have to split their assets during that time.”
“On the international stage you have to give everything at high power for 6 minutes and then rest. This is a different way to play.”
Internationally, you have to give everything for 6 minutes, then rest. This is a different way to play.
“It was so far behind, then we can put our foot next to the top five, and now we’re in the top three in the world in terms of physical readiness. And year after year they are getting better.”
Impact from athletics
The husky itself has roots in the world of athletics. He was an 800m runner and still draws a lot of inspiration from his past.
“Hockey players can learn a lot about athletics aspects of running. This is not to say that hockey players should run like runners, but the way the mechanism has become a very useful mechanism.”