Kerry confident GB have the edge

25 July 2012 / 18:48

Great Britain women's hockey coach Danny Kerry believes his squad not only have a physical advantage over their Olympic opponents but a mental one as well.

Kerry regards his team as the fittest in the world but the work they have done over the last three years has improved their minds as well as their bodies. At the beginning of the GB programme the squad was taken on a two-day Royal Marines training exercise, not unusual for sports teams, which Kerry thinks the players detested.

But he has pushed them in various other ways, including undertaking specific psychological training as well as getting them to perform comedy shows for the backroom and office staff - which they hated even more.

"We have done a huge amount of work around team building, character and self-awareness which involved them understanding themselves and each other better," he said. "That has allowed them to self-regulate and understand how to get themselves in the right place and how to work with people under pressure - including myself.

"Where we are, and where we have a cutting edge over some of our opponents, is some of that work. We have tried to move everything to the right end of the spectrum: performance, lifestyle, psychology, strength and conditioning, hockey.

"One of the things I did do, which they hated, was make them do an improv comedy show in which they had to go up on stage and were given an instrument, for example, and told 'Make this funny'. They did a really good job and it was very funny but they hated me for it.

"They could not see the parallels but for me they were obvious. That they didn't enjoy and they questioned the value of it, whereas the Marines thing was obvious as there was a big physicality to it. Underpinning it all were the questions 'Where am I now, where do I need to be?'."

Captain Kate Walsh does not like to be reminded of their time with the Marines in 2010, although being transported around the Olympic village this week by members of that regiment brought the memories flooding back.

"It came at a perfect time as a squad and it started off as bonding and you pushed yourself to a ridiculous limit of fatigue both physically and mentally," she said.

"But it was about being able to look at the person next to you and know what they were feeling without having to say anything."