A GROUP of elite regional players will be as fit as they are talented if they stick to a 10-week program being run at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Being committed to the new Ipswich program will also improve their prospects of making Queensland teams next year.
That's the goal of Ipswich regional coaching director Neil Shearer, who has introduced the comprehensive skills, agility and fitness system for the first time in the city.
With specialised help from fitness fanatic Stephen Rogers and experienced coach Ken McCoombes, Shearer is keen to see Ipswich's best under-15 and under-18 players advance their hockey careers.
State squads will be trimmed to Queensland teams in February, leading to national under-15 and under-18 national championships in April.
"I want everyone to put their best foot forward to make the team," Shearer said.
"It's essential that they turn up to the trials ready to go and they're fit."
Sessions are being held on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights up to and after Christmas to improve their fitness levels and sharpen their skills.
Rogers is happy to run the fitness component of the program, focusing on core strength and agility.
"I'm just trying to get a lot of cardio and their strength up before their trials," Rogers said.
"We're doing a lot of bodyweight stuff like push-ups, sit-ups, burpees. A fair bit of running as well."
National league umpire Rogers accepted the opportunity to help the region's next generation of top level players.
"Fitness is so important, especially the game now, hockey is so fast," he said.
"Even though you can interchange as many times as you want, you still want your best players running for 70 minutes."
Shearer agreed, having divided his program into two four-week blocks broken by two weeks of active rest over Christmas-New Year.
"Accountability comes back to them," he said.
"These are the sessions that are available for them. I'm expecting the under-18s to fully commit to it.
"I won't go into bat for them if they turn up unfit.
"The skills sessions are still endurance-based but also so they can work on their essential skills as well.
"They get a bit of free time each session to practice on any skill they want to practice on."
Ipswich players in Queensland squads aiming for national titles selection are: Kelly McNamara, Lauren Hess, Gabby Nicholls, Daniel Westphal, Tedoka Andrew Sharrad, Thomas Picton and Caleb McCoombes (under-15); and Natalie Davidson, Jay Pavitt, Zac Hoyland Meaker, Kyah Andrew Sharrad, Aryton Coolwell and Cade Banditt (under-18).
Australian Country player Sara Rogers has joined the Ipswich hockey program for additional training.
Promising under-18 representatives Layla Eleison and Mitchell Moran are also doing the extra work on the turf surface at Raceview.
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