The walking sport bandwagon is gathering tremendous momentum now, and the latest sport to climb aboard is hockey.
Like other walking sports, Walking Hockey is aimed predominantly at those who find regular hockey a little tough going. The passage of time waits for no-one but our appetite for playing sport often remains undiminished – which is where walking sports come in. Walking Netball, football and other walking sports are proving hugely popular and successful, and there is no reason why Walking Hockey cannot enjoy the same success.
Walking Hockey is still very much in its infancy. At the start of January 2017, Bromsgrove Hockey Club held its first walking hockey session, and a startling 35 people turned up to play. It developed from one of the club’s Back to Hockey sessions, when a participant, Liz Morris, found the session a little difficult and suggested Walking Hockey to the club.
I loved hockey when I was younger, I played at school and then for Birmingham Municipal HC until I was about 30 then it all stopped. After a gap of 20–something years I tried Back To Hockey but needed something a little slower so I suggested that we start a walking hockey club. It’s been great tonight with so many like-minded people and I have made some new friends – really enjoyable.
Its benefits are plain to see – regular physical activity helps develop and maintain fitness, and in particular your strength, flexibility and energy levels, while the social interaction is great for your mental well-being.
Back to Hockey has been embraced by many hockey clubs up and down the country and we would love to see clubs adopting Walking Hockey in similar numbers.
Alan Gormley of Bromsgrove HC has drawn up this very handy list of tips for any club looking to host their own Walking Hockey sessions.
- Research your local market to see if there is a need or latent requirement
- Market across all media channels regularly and in a lively and varied way
- Involve your local sports bodies and regional EH representative
- Come up with a project cost model that is attractive to and affordable for participants
- If possible run the session before a Back To Hockey or regular club session so people can see, if they want to, a pathway
- Involve other suitable club members in the launch session
- Have a good supply of long sticks so people do not have to bend too far – lots of our people were older and less flexible than existing players
- Create a first session that eases people into the sport paying particular attention to a relevant warm up and a run through key basic skills
- Have a coach who can relate to and communicate with participants in a lively, relaxed and friendly way
- Remember that the participants will have a vast range of expectations and will almost certainly be nervous and / or apprehensive. Greet them individually and create a session that is relaxed but well organized
- Follow up immediately after the session with each person to get their reaction
We would encourage as many clubs as possible to adopt Walking Hockey and hope 2017 is the start of something special for this fantastic initiative.
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