As a Varsity Blues field hockey player, my fall semester is packed with lifts, practices, traveling, and competition, while my winter semester is considered my offseason. ‘Off’ may be the wrong word, considering how much work our team does in the winter to prepare for our competition season in the fall.

Our offseason field hockey training is essential to our team’s success. In order to improve my skills, build strength, and increase my fitness levels over the winter, I need to stay healthy and perform my best at workouts and at practice.

Similar to our competition season in the fall, sleep is essential. Depending on the week, we may only have one or two days off, which don’t always fall on the weekends, so relying on those days to catch up on sleep doesn’t work. For me, there is really only one way to stay well-rested, and that is sleeping at least six — but ideally eight — hours per night.

Nutrition is key to maximizing offseason training results. I never count how many calories I eat in a day, but I do make sure I fuel myself properly before workouts, practice, and competition. I try not to skip meals. Even if we’re training early in the morning and I’m not hungry, I will at least have a small snack. I always pack extra food like granola bars, fruit, or vegetables in case I get hungry or I don’t have time to go home before training.

Staying hydrated is another way I stay ready for training. Especially while running, I can tell when I’m dehydrated, and I usually struggle more on those days. To prevent this, I carry a water bottle with me everywhere and, if possible, I keep it where I can see it, constantly reminding myself to stay hydrated.

During the offseason, we work out as a team twice per week. All of our lifts include various different exercises, but one day is lower body-focused, while the other day is concentrated on upper body. Since field hockey is a running sport that involves speed and agility, we also train footwork at one lift and conditioning at the other.

Our lifts serve two major purposes that prepare us for our upcoming season in the fall. Firstly, they focus on staying healthy and preventing injuries. Secondly, since all of our data — the weight we lift and our fitness scores — is tracked, lifts provide opportunities to identify weaknesses, set goals, and monitor improvements.

Offseason practices only occur three times per week, and we play indoor field hockey — a variation on the outdoor game — instead of outdoor field hockey. Indoor field hockey requires a slightly different skill set, although it is transferable to the outdoor game, and it keeps us interested, as we’re always working toward and improving on something new.

We play tournaments once per month to maintain some competition and see how much we’ve improved through practices. Indoor practices allow us to try new skills and learn new tactics — all things that keep us driven and excited about returning to Back Campus in the fall.

Overall, our field hockey off-season isn’t really ‘off’ at all. Our training is focused and requires preparation and dedication. We increase our personal strength, fitness, and skills, while also bonding closer as a team through a shared atmosphere of hard work, trying new things, but most of all, a desire to be at our best when the season starts.