Michael Macleod – 2019’s Hockey Progression

Over the past year Michael Macleod, a Rivers Gifted & Talented member & very talent Hockey player, has been taking part in England Hockey’s Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) programme. He’s been showing exceptional progress & is continuously improving his hockey skills & fitness levels.

I was selected to complete this course by senior coaches in the England Hockey system who noticed my ability whilst I was playing in regional tournaments across the country. Only 45 people from the whole country were selected for this, illustrating the hard work that I have been putting into my hockey.

I have attended four residential camps throughout the year, which have a mixture of playing hockey and doing academic work surrounding the game. This give us, as athletes, a better understanding of the game and how to be professional in our approach. From nutrition and psychology to managing finances and lifestyle, the course’s aim, according to England Hockey, is to develop high potential elite athletes for the game in the coming years.

I took this as huge inspiration as it meant that the England coaches had me flagged as an elite athlete with the potential to play at the highest level.

Whilst at these camps we had some fitness testing sessions, where we had strength and conditioning assessments and a cardiovascular fitness test, known as the 1000 yard test (10 lengths of a hockey pitch as fast as possible).

Without the support of Rivers Fitness there is no way that my performances in these would have been anywhere near where they were, so thank you for that.

The camps ran throughout the year &, as a team, 15 of us trained with one end goal in mind – the 2019 Home Nations junior tournament. This took place at the end of the final camp, and was an international competition involving England, Scotland and Ireland. As the DiSE team, we were known as ‘England Blue’.

For me, this was the best hockey experience I have had to date, as it involved me representing my country on the international stage.

In game one we played England. This resulted in a 3-1 loss, but we were happy with how we performed and I was voted Man of the Match by the coaches, which was an honour to me as I was representing internationally and had been noted as the best player there!

In the second game we played Ireland. This was a better game for us as we built on the first performance, and we won 3-2. What an experience to WIN for your country! I can’t imagine anything better than that feeling.

Between the games we had team meetings, which involved recovery sessions and tactical meetings. We used video recordings of ourselves and our opponents to assess our performances in the matches and to decide how best to play against our next opponent. This was hugely insightful for me, as it was my first experience of profession video analysis, something that has always interested me as an athlete.

Due to our two previous results, we were placed into the 3rd/4th play-off, or bronze medal match. In this game we played the other DiSE team (‘England Red’), & the result was 5-1 in our favour! We got a bronze medal for our efforts, and were ecstatic with how we played and how we conducted ourselves when representing on the international stage.

Finally, I’d like to thank you, as a brand & company as a whole, for supporting me over the past few years, from my first county selection to the first international representation.

Michael is a great young athlete & sportsmen, that we are proud to support in his fitness development. It’s great to see him following his Hockey dreams & we wish him the best of luck! – Rivers Fitness