Hockey and the weather

GB Hockey Maddie Hinch

The weather has a big effect on hockey. Professional womens hockey player Maddie Hinch reveals how she stays ahead of the game.

"For sportspeople it is vital that the weather is accurate so we can prepare better for our games"

Maddie Hinch is a very focussed young athlete. Not only does she play the most physically demanding position in the team - goal - but, still in her early 20s, she has also taken time out of University to chase her dream.

Although hockey has been a part of the Olympic Games since the start of last century, incredibly women's hockey only arrived at the Moscow Games in 1980. Both men's and women's games demand speed, stamina and a mastery of hand-eye co-ordination. It's also played on an outdoor pitch, so teams will be at the mercy of the weather in the brand new Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park.

Maddie says that actually rain can be a welcome part of the forecast - as long as it's not too cold. "Rain this summer will make the pitch play nicely. If we get a heat wave we can turn the [water] cannons on [but] frozen pitches are common on the water pitches."

Met Office forecasts on a mobile phone are essential kit.

A self-confessed "phone-geek", Maddie checks the latest forecasts on the go. She also accesses the latest Met Office forecast via the BBC website. Team GB for hockey, along with all the teams, will get a lot of support by our own forecasters at the Games themselves. A team of specialist forecasters will be providing forecasts for the Olympic Park itself - giving up to date information to help the teams prepare.

Maddie says that's crucial because heat is another big factor - especially in light of her kit. Being in the firing line, in goal, means the keeper is armed to the back teeth with padding. Thick arm and leg pads, helmet and other body armour keeps the goalie safe from solid hockey balls being shot at high speeds towards them.

How the weather affects Hockey
Hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch explains how the weather affects Hockey matches.

Weather and hockey Video transcript - hockey and the weather (PDF, 112 kB)

Extreme conditions can make all the difference

"If you go to a country and it is 30 degrees, with my kit on it is closer to 40... nobody wants it too hot as it has big impact on performance. In Argentina it was so warm that the keeper who was playing at the time started to see things.

We work hard with our team nutritionists to work out what's best to make sure the heat doesn't get to us .... hydration is key to our performance."

She's wedded to her phone forecasts at all times and says an accurate forecast makes all the difference. "There is nothing worse than getting to a game and you haven't packed your waterproofs as you have read that it is not going to rain, or you have traveled 60 miles and it is frozen."

This year's forecasts by the Met Office at London 2012 will keep these teams completely in the picture as they prepare for their games which begin on Sunday 29 July.

You can stay ahead of the weather by downloading the Met Office iPhone or  Android apps for free, or by visiting the Met Office homepage.

More information about Olympic hockey is available from the official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games website.

Last updated: 1 August 2012

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