The Checklist: Training and kit advice from an Olympic hockey champion

From favourite places to compete to the items she always carries around in her kit bag
The Checklist: Shona McCallin

In our Checklist series of interviews, we feature amazing people doing inspirational things in the world of fitness and the outdoors.

This week, we speak to British hockey player Shona McCallin about training, her kit, what she thinks is happening in the fitness industry and about being an ambassador for OPRO Mouthguards.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm currently a GB Women’s Hockey player and OPRO ambassador – I’ve been a member of the team since 2013. I'm also an Olympic and European Champion and hoping to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

What projects are you currently working on?

My main project is the goal of qualifying for Tokyo through a play-off at the start of November. Otherwise, off the back of graduating from university with a business degree, I'm just looking to keep learning and developing myself.

I’ve taken up a course in nutrition online as well as one focused on mental health. It’s really important for me to keep mentally occupied outside of hockey.

What was the last thing you trained for?

The European Championships was the most recent competition, as an opportunity to gain automatic qualification to next year’s Olympics, but we do train all year round. We’ve got a few weeks break now before building up to the Olympic qualification game in early November.

What kind of schedule/program do you follow?

Training is set by the experts that we have at GB Hockey, so the strength and conditioning coaches and the hockey coaches – it’s all based on what we need as a team.

A typical week would include five hockey sessions and three gym sessions. Usually, the fitness side is incorporated in either the gym or the hockey sessions, rather than being something extra. The gym sessions will be a variety of things – could be speed-focused, power-focused, injury prevention-focused – whatever the athlete’s needs, they’ll be tailored to those.

The hockey sessions will be a mixture of sessions at ranging difficulties, based around more technical, tactical work. They’re all planned out to link together naturally.

I think for me my power is something I definitely want to work on. I think I have the ability to just keep going fitness-wise but I’m not naturally a bigger player. I'm more slight and I’d like to improve my muscular strength. If I didn’t put in the gym work I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the demands of international hockey.

The Checklist

How do you evaluate your performance of a training session?

For me, it’s about whether I’ve mentally and physically giving it my all. Then I come off the pitch satisfied that I couldn’t have done anything else.

I think it’s easy to coast through sessions and for me, that would be a waste of time. I’ll look back at video from hockey sessions and see if there are any tactical elements that I can improve in.

What’s next?

We have the Olympic qualifiers coming up and will look back at training and performances at the Europeans to decipher what we need to work on and how we can improve.

Next year we’ll be going out to Australia, New Zealand and Argentina for various games, but before the Olympic qualifiers we have some important tests that will help stand us in good stead.

What do you think will be the next big movements in health and fitness?

I remember when I was at school it wasn’t really ‘cool’ to be in the gym and to keep active, it was all about going out; I think the continuation of that is great.

I’m also a big fan of the evolution of the functional side of training. There’s a lot of gyms popping up surrounding this concept where it’s all about movement rather than just machines etc. It keeps things interesting. I think technology is huge too – in sport it's booming.

You look around and everyone seems to have a smart watch – I think the use of technology in tracking sport, activity, recovery etc. will continue to explode.

Training kit

What are the key items in your kit bag?

OPRO Power-Fit Mouthguard – Of course, you want to have fun out there competing but safety cannot be neglected! A mouthguard is a must-have and OPRO’s range really are the best out there. Not only have I found they provide the best fit in terms of retention and comfort, but there’s no compromise on protection too.

Buy now: OPRO (UK) / OPRO (US) / Amazon | $34.99

The Checklist: Training and kit advice from an Olympic hockey champion

Jaybird Tarah Pro – Working out to music is so much better than working out without music! I’ve gone through so many pairs of headphones down the years because I’m constantly losing them or getting them all sweaty. I’ve found Jaybird’s headphones to be particularly durable in that sense!

Buy now: Jaybird (UK) / Jaybird (US) / Amazon | $159.99

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

Fitness tracker – A fitness tracker is a fantastic way to track your top-level progress and for me, it gives a great idea of aspects such as heart-rate training zones and the distance I’m covering on the pitch within my sessions.

STX Lacrosse Ball – A lacrosse ball is a fantastic way to get into tight areas that are harder to target through the use of a foam roller. Find your trigger points and roll away!

Buy now: Amazon | $19.99

The Checklist

Face cleansing wipes and a hairbrush – After training it’s good to refresh immediately so you can start focusing on recovery – including proper post-training nutrition. Less technical it has to be said with these two, but nevertheless still ever-present items within my kit bag…

What trainers do you use?

I use Asics FuzeX trainers at the moment as I find them to be a really good combination trainer. They’re not overly running focused with exaggerated cushioning and support, but they’re not flat either.

It’s a good balance for the running sessions that we do – a lot of straight-line stuff, but also changing direction and working on that agility. Lightweight and they come in some funky colours too.

Buy now: Asics (US) / Amazon | $39.95

The Checklist

What apparel do you use?

I love STX’s apparel in particular. A good pair of leggings also go a long way and I must admit I’m a big fan of Under Armour’s range in that sense.

What one item of your gear would you implore someone else to use?

It’d have to be my OPRO mouthguard. It’s a must when you’re playing, and they offer some funky designs to match your personality. They’re all professionally fit and it’s easy to notice that quality by the fact that I often forget that they’re even there. It gives you that confidence to focus on performing.

Where’s the best place you ever trained or competed?

We recently went to Japan and the pitches were in some really picturesque places in the mountains. Competing-wise, the home European Championships in 2015 in London when we won was a pretty incredible experience. That was one of my first big major tournaments and you really can’t beat a home crowd.

What’s the exercise you hate doing the most?

Probably really heavy strength stuff – when the reps are down to twos or threes. I really hate that!

Quickfire questions

What’s your ultimate workout song?

I don’t really have one song I must admit but I do have a favorite playlist on Spotify. I think the playlist is something like Ultimate Dance Remixes! I like a bit of 90s R&B too.

How many push-ups can you do in one go?

Probably about 35ish.

If you could compete/train anywhere in the world where would it be?

Somewhere with sunshine – let’s go with LA!

Who’s your fitness/sporting hero?

I think Kelly Holmes is pretty inspirational – not only what she’s done in sport, but also since she retired.

Is there any sport you’re really bad at?

I don’t do stuff I’m not very good at!

What’s your favorite post-competition/challenge meal?

Burger and chips.

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