“Solidarity is a big thing in field hockey.”

Field hockey is not merely a game for Viktoria. Having played since childhood and known her teammates and opponents for years, the sport is more like a ‘big family’ for her. But that doesn’t mean she’s any less competitive for it – this girl is out for success. Pics: Edith Führing

Tell us about your training routine.

I work out 4 days a week during the main season in preparation for the matches at the weekends. On Mondays, I always train with the national team. These are mostly athletic sessions as our coach thinks we’re not fit enough.

The rest of the week is reserved for my home club. On Tuesdays it’s aerobic and hockey training, Wednesdays are usually athletic workouts, while Thursdays are again reserved for hockey. Fridays are normally rest days.

Each training session is about two or two and a half hours long. So you really need commitment and good time management to keep going alongside your day job.

What are aerobic or athletic workouts like?

The aim of aerobic training is to enhance stability but without using additional weights. Athletic training mostly involves sprints or something running-related. With the national team, we also do weightlifting. Our fitness levels are medically supervised, and we test our lactate and endurance levels on a regular basis.

Now it’s the start of the season. Did you actually take a break from training over the summer?

No, I didn’t completely stop over the summer break. I would go running or meet friends for an athletic workout. Although it’s good to get away from field hockey for a bit, no one really gives up training completely, otherwise the start of the season would be terribly exhausting.

What’s your position?

I play in defence. The line-up is similar to football. Depending on the tactics there are three to four defenders, three to four midfielders, three strikers and one goalkeeper on the pitch.

Favourite training place?

I play for the AHTC Wien, the academic Hockey and Tennis Club. Our home base is in Vienna’s Prater park, which is an amazing location and allows us to do our runs and athletic sessions on the main avenue there.

How did you get into field hockey and your specific routine?

I grew up with the sport. My dad was a field hockey player so I started playing when I was a little kid. Then I switched to tennis and stopped playing for a while. At the age of eleven, I rediscovered hockey as a lot of my classmates were into it and I’ve been playing ever since.

How big is hockey in Austria?

The community is relatively small and compact. Most of the clubs are in Vienna and Lower Austria. There are about 20 clubs, but in terms of female teams it’s a lot less. You could say it’s 2/3 men and 1/3 women. That’s because most men still carry on playing when they get older, whereas most women tend to stop playing after they have children. But women are now slowly starting to form senior teams.

We’re always on the lookout for new players, even among school kids. There’s even a field hockey kindergarten where small children can familiarise themselves with the ball and sticks.

How many players does your team have?

There are ten players on the field plus the goalkeeper. We have a core team and substitutes. At matches, there are normally 18 players present, though our squad consists of 22. There’s always someone absent because of injury or illness. Normally, everyone gets the chance to play in a match, with some of us playing longer, and some playing less. But if you don’t turn up to the training sessions, you most likely won’t be able to play in the matches.

What makes you do sports?

Sport is a lot of fun. You can’t avoid practice if you want to get better. The advantage of being part of a team is that you’re working out with your friends. The hockey world is like a big family. Everyone somehow knows everyone. I’ve known the girls in the national team for ages. During the hockey season, we spend nearly every weekend together playing.

Even when there are no training sessions, I like to go for a run, do mountain biking or hike. I love being outdoors and so do my friends. So it is easy to find somebody to share my sporting adventures. Sport really has the power to connect.

What keeps you motivated to stick with your training and not give up?

All the success we have had and the championship titles we have won are a huge motivation. Each year our goal is to compete in the final four, the championship finals, which is a big event. Reaching the semi-finals and the finals is clearly why we work so hard. Our aim is to win, of course ;-).

Thoughts before, during and after a training session?

Before: I have mixed feelings, especially before an athletic session. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to the exercise, on the other hand, I’m a bit apprehensive about what’s to come. Is it going to be exhausting? What’s on the schedule?

During: To start with, I feel a bit tense (though the tension is all positive), and this quickly turns into a concentrated and productive feeling.

After: After the session, I’m completely tired out, but in a good way. The workouts in preparation for the matches are really tough and exhausting. I’m just happy to still be able to cycle home afterwards ☺. There’s also this feeling of contentment and pride, of having learnt something new while giving everything. It all helps me to process my day and to switch off from work.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Occasionally, there are also those training sessions where everything seems to go completely wrong and you start questioning everything. If I’m really frustrated or angry I try to distance myself a bit and concentrate on the positives. If this doesn’t help, then I still have a team picture at home that was taken after our team had progressed to the next stage of the European Cup. By then at the latest, I know that it’s all good.

How does hockey influence your daily life?

A lot. Sport is part of my life. Rarely a day passes where I don’t do any sport. Apart from hockey, I also love mountain biking and skiing tours in winter.

Would you say you are competitive, particularly in sport, but also in general?

Absolutely. Personal fitness is really important for me, which is why I put extra effort into my training sessions and do even more than we’re asked to. I also track my runs as I like to challenge myself.

What kind of equipment do you have?

A stick and a ball ☺. We wear special boots, which are similar to football boots for artificial grass and have lots of small bumps on the soles. The goalkeeper is the only one who wears full protection. All the other players only have gum shields and shin pads.

Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?

Positive: you can always count on your team. Solidarity is a big thing. Even if you’re having a bad day, there’s always someone to lift your spirits. And that’s true even beyond the hockey field.

Negative: Injuries, but these happen in every sport.

What was your most memorable moment?

When I was 18, we won the championship. Our team had recently been formed from two teams, so no one expected us to compete successfully.

This year we’re through to the next stage of the European Cup with our current team, something which I’m very proud of.

If you weren’t into sports, what would you be doing instead?

I would have a lot of free time. If it wasn’t hockey, I would definitely be doing another sport. Doing nothing is not an option for me.

In five key words: What are the best things about your training that you want to share with our readers?

Team spirit, fun, going full-out, being outdoors.

Your favourite motivational quote?

I don’t have a quote, more a ritual. Before every match I usually high-five all my teammates.

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