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English girls take to the chamber to prepare for Delhi

As athletes begin arriving in New Delhi this week for the Commonwealth Games 2010, adapting to the change in environment will be a key objective ahead of the competitive schedule.

As athletes begin arriving in New Delhi this week for the Commonwealth Games 2010, adapting to the change in environment will be a key objective ahead of the competitive schedule.
Having travelled out to holding camps or straight to India itself, athletes will need to minimise the impact of travel, adapt to their environment and focus on their performance. At an acclimatisation session at the EIS (English Institue of Sport) High Performance Centre in Bisham last week, eis2win.co.uk caught up with some of the EIS experts and England Women’s hockey squad who were putting the finishing touches to their preparations.
Although held later to avoid the high heat of the summer, the environment may still get fairly warm with humidity being one of the key challenges athletes who are competing outside will face.
Fresh from their success at the World Cup, where the England women’s hockey team clinched bronze, the squad were training in the chamber at 30 degrees centigrade and ~85% humidity, to get used to the conditions they may face in Delhi.
“The heat makes a big difference” says Helen Richardson, one of the successful goal scorers from the recent World Cup. “You get in there initially and think it isn’t too bad, but you start to exercise and it hits you and it feels as if you head is about to explode!”
On the forthcoming Commonwealth Games she added: “We’re still on a high from the world cup which is great and we can look to take that into the Commonwealth Games. It’ll be a tough competition but we go in confident.”
Nutrition will play an important role in handling the environment and keeping athletes nutritionally ready to perform, according to EIS Performance Nutritionist Dan Kings.
“For the girls to produce their best performance we have to prepare them as best as we can. From a nutritional perspective using the environmental chamber gives them an awareness of how they are going to feel, whilst it gives us a chance to look at how they can best deal with the extra calorie burn and hydration issues which come from playing in those conditions.”
Not only will the conditions have a physical impact on athletes but the mental edge they need going into an event will play a part.
“Training in the environmental chamber gives the athletes an insight into the types of conditions they’ll face in Delhi, the types of physiological feelings they’ll have and therefore an understanding of how they can psychologically deal with it” said Tom Cross, EIS Performance Psychologist.
Combined with sessions in a chamber, athletes will also use their time as they arrive in Delhi to fully acclimatise before the event, something men’s team EIS Strength & Conditioning Coach, Andy Hudson, believes are important in preparing for Delhi.
“There are a couple of options that have potential for improving an athletes’ climatic acclimatisation. One is to go early and allow the body to fully adjust to the new environment it’s in, the other is to go through a process of acclimatisation such as the use of an environmental chamber, which allows them to train in a falsified hot and humid environment.”

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