A south west London hockey club have moved all training for children online during lockdown in an attempt to keep them engaged and happy.
Surbiton Hockey Club, one of the largest clubs in the country, is running all its training and other sessions online to maintain team spirit with quizzes, team bonding exercises and fitness sessions.
In a normal week for the junior teams, known as Colts, they have one training session and then have a game over the weekend, but with all group sports banned the club have moved to more virtual forms of engagement.
Lilie Lamacraft, Colts coach and Surbiton Ladies 2 player said: “It’s all about making it fun and happy. It is to keep the kids engaged with hockey and give them a distraction from school and how bad this time is for them.
“Surbiton is like a family. The culture is really encouraging like that and we have a lot of kids and its all about their development.
“The main coaches known every single kid in the club’s name and there’s hundreds of them.”
Surbiton have run sessions throughout each of the lockdowns.
These sessions include quizzes and research on tactical theory in the week, with weekend classes more focussed on improving basic hockey skills in a team environment.
The quizzes cover topics from team GB hockey to tactical skills to the girls themselves as they get to know each other better.
There are drawbacks to this type of teaching, such as space, resources, and not being able to put skills into practice with clear teacher demonstrations.
This is particularly an issue for the children from Surbiton’s suburban hockey programme, where they go into local state schools without much funding and teach children hockey with many going on to join the main club.
But, while there are issues, there are benefits too.
Lamacraft said: “The kids get something different, something to look forward to, they get to see their mates from hockey.
“Growing up, it was so important for me and for them it is nice to see friendly faces and people who can engage with them as for a lot of kids it is their release.”
The junior teams will be able to play together again once the schools reopen with adult teams expected to return a few months later.
For the adult teams, players have been continuing their personal online fitness programmes but they don’t have specific sessions as players tend to have more time commitments to balance.
Lamacraft explained: “A lot of people have said it is nice to have the break as our seasons are so intense but I don’t agree. I want to get back to training because it’s nice to have a form of routine.
“I know that we are supported by the club, and if we wanted coaching we would be able to ask for it.”
Surbiton is planning to keep the season going for a couple of months longer than normal to ensure children have enough in-person training.
Featured image: A socially distanced Surbiton Hockey Club Ladies 2 team photo last year. Credit: Lilie Lamacraft