Back to the sports field

week 30-44

After having had a lot of muscle soreness the first few training sessions after summer holiday, I am able to train with full power again. Strength training has started again and my knee continues to feel more normal as the days go by. I am no longer making this weird snapping sound with my knee and it no longer aches when I make certain movements. Fortunately, because halfway through my rehab I want to give it my all these last couple months. Besides strength training, the outdoor practice is also resuming. This time with the focus on directional changes and different types of jumps. All of this is going so well that I was told that I could take part in the field practice, a special type of practice specifically for people that want to play their sport again after recovering. Finally another step closer to my end goal.

Finally, the moment is there. I’m standing on a field again. Something I have been secretly looking forward to for months. I am a bit tense, but also very excited. The first field practice went worse than I had wanted. Not that it went horrible or anything… It’s just that, let’s say, more attention points were found during the session. Multitasking is difficult, my handling speed is slow and so is my overall speed to name a few. It’s all part of the process of course and can all be easily trained to be better luckily. Whilst I do like strength training, I enjoy the field practice more. This is partly because it is more focused on what I want; also, we do it in a group of people who all strive for the same goal.

Enkelstijfheid kracht

During the first few field practice sessions, I noticed that I was still being cautious. I think this is because the movements felt unfamiliar and I was very aware of every movement I was making. Something you don’t want when you start playing your sport again. This process was very slow but gradually I started training with the motto “don’t think, just do” and this helped me. Slowly, fear was being replaced with the feeling of freedom. 

 After a few weeks of field practice, something happened. I am allowed to take part in the practice of my hockey team! There are still a couple things that require some attention before I could start though. One of these things was making agreements with my PT about what sorts of exercises I could take part in to fit my current strengths and weaknesses. This is to ensure that I don’t participate in exercises I am not ready for (spoiler alert, this eventually happened. Whoops…). 

 The purpose of the first couple hockey practice sessions is to get the feeling of playing hockey back. It’s been almost a year since I last played hockey so this is much needed. This is why I agreed with my coach and PT that I only participate in the warming-up and scoring exercises. I am also allowed to participate in other exercises as long as they do not contain any contact moments, any (unexpected) changes in direction or where any pressure is put on me (time-wise or physical). This is also why I need to request the plan for the practice beforehand so that I can discuss which exercises I can participate in. All of these agreements make it so that I can only participate in a small portion of the training. The exercises which I can’t participate in I do conditional and sprint work and/or some shooting on goal by myself. 

Slowly, the focus is shifting from a lot of strength and indoor training to field training. That’s also why I need to do another strength test. The previous strength test three months ago showed great differences between my two legs, partly because I still had some pain in my kneecap. This pain has been gone for a while now so I am convinced that the results will be better this time. The test happened and, as expected, the results look a lot better but there is still a pretty big difference of 20% in my quadriceps. These are quite difficult to get to equal strength because I train both legs. Fortunately the difference between my hamstrings is small, around 10%, but they both need to get stronger. 

Sprint oefeninngen

In the meantime I have been training with my hockey team for a while now. I am noticing that I am getting more confident and that I don’t need to think about my movements and actions as much as before. This is when I should start being more careful because, knowing myself, I start to become too confident. Which is exactly what happened during training one day. This particular training there wasn’t much that I could participate in and a teammate of mine noticed this. She asked if I wanted to join the attacking team, of course I did. Even though I had not made an agreement with my PT about joining in on these kinds of exercises I still joined the attacking team. It was agreed upon in my team that there would be no pressure put on me and I would step out if my team had to defend. In the end everything went well, luckily. In hindsight it might not have been the smartest idea but I really enjoyed it. I liked being involved in the game instead of my normal passing and scoring exercises. As you might have expected, my PT did not think the same way I did and felt that I shouldn’t have participated. Oops. He said that there was still too much time pressure and that I wasn’t ready for it yet. 

 Two weeks later, I am now finally allowed to make this step. I am allowed to participate in (small) group exercises in the back, but still no duels allowed. This means I often play as the last woman in the back and need to look for passes on the side and forward. Don’t be mistaken, this is easier said than done. Even though no real pressure can be put on me, I still put too much pressure on myself by trying to play at a high tempo. This works fine if it is a small playing field but when it gets larger, it also becomes more difficult to do this. To suddenly have an entire playing field in front of me and having to find the correct pass is difficult for me. A small example of this is when the ball was not played well into my stick. I wanted to quickly scan the field for passing options and correct my body to receive the ball at the same time. Because of the large field however, I was slightly distracted by looking for a pass which caused my body to not multitask well. So when I received the ball, I stumbled over my own feet which made me lose balance and ended up falling halfway to the ground. I was harshly reminded of the facts at that moment. The automatisms I once had were not there yet. I struggled for weeks to do multiple actions at the same time and keep my tempo high. It’s not like it was before, but it’s slowly coming back by doing my best.

Wenden en keren

The following weeks went by on automatic pilot. Field, strength, hockey, strength, repeat. I was taken out of that bubble because during one of the training sessions I suddenly had problems with my shins. I think almost every athlete knows exactly what I mean when I say that I thought the problem would go away as the training progressed. This was not the case. The days after the training session I kept feeling a kind of light pressure on my shins which meant no running exercises and no training in different jumping forms. 


By reducing the amount of stress put on my shins they are starting to feel better and as it turns out, it is pretty difficult to find the right balance between physical activity (and thus loading the shins) and rest. Luckily, running is pain-free again and I can participate in the field- and hockey training again. One-legged jumps, however, still result in a kind of stabbing pain. I skipped a couple of training sessions and it started getting better again but the pain easily comes back when I start putting it under more pressure. I’ve been struggling with my shins for a while now but soon there will be a winter break for both hockey- and field training so I’ll get to rest a bit. Hopefully this extra rest will make it disappear completely.

So, a lot has happened in the past months! I was allowed to start with the field- and gradually join the hockey training. The final phase of rehab is finally at the door which means getting fit again and getting the final touches right. Hopefully, I can soon start participating in matches again and, who knows, maybe even actual competition matches. It’s time to give it my all these last few weeks!