For teams competing in India, the heat is a psychological barrier. Though the Commonwealth Games are being held at the fag end of the summer season, the heat and humidity in Delhi will still be an important factor for foreign competitors, especially in physical outdoor sports like hockey.
To help them get into the right “mental state” to tackle the conditions in New Delhi, the England women’s hockey team underwent an extensive session in an “environmental chamber” at the High Performance Centre in the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Berkshire.
The players trained in a 30-degree chamber with a humidity level of 85 per cent to ‘acclimatise’ to the condition in the Indian capital. They were made to complete specific exercises, which gave the support staff an idea of how their bodies would cope with the climatic conditions, and also the nutrition required to tackle dehydration.
Usually teams reach the competition venues much in advance to acclimatise to the conditions. But, since the England players were recovering from the rigours of last month’s World Cup in Argentina, the team management used “heat chambers” to prepare them for Delhi.
“Because of the paucity of time between the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, the heat chamber prepared us for the experience in Delhi. Winter is setting in England, while it is quite hot in India, so we had a session in the heat chamber,” midfielder Helen Richardson told HT.
“That session was more to condition the players psychologically. We have a few days to go for our inaugural match and that should be enough to acclimatise us,” she added.
Helen said the players had had a special training session with the Marines in July ahead of the World Cup, which had helped the team bond together. “We spent two days with the Royal Marines, and training with them was very challenging. It was a great experience for the players,” she said.
"Such sessions help in team bonding. Moreover, we have had a busy schedule playing in the Champions Trophy at Nottingham followed by the World Cup. We have been playing together for nearly 12 months now and that has brought us together,” she added.
The team’s fortunes are on the upswing as was evident when it won bronze in the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. But at the CWG, Richardson hopes it would do better and bag gold. The heat should not be a barrier for them this time around.