The faster, stronger nature of the current world game may be a boost to the sport, but it will also result in more collisions and injuries, according to Nicola White.
White watched the FIH Pro League last year and recalled watching three players getting hurt in separate matches. And as she recovers from the severity of her concussion injury, she admitted that is currently looking into player safety and ways to make the game less dangerous – despite hockey being seen as a non-contact sport.
She said: “My concern is that the game is getting quicker and powerful. It’s great that the game is going this way but with the rise of strength and conditioning there are a lot more collisions.
“It’s a great feeling when you know you’ve made gains with the work you’ve put in. But ultimately it will lead to collisions.
“To help prevent concussion there needs to be more umpire discipline and player understanding. There is a reliance on umpires’ shoulders to see behaviour which isn’t acceptable and award more cards.”
Although White hasn’t seen much junior hockey during the last two years, she is aware of the dangers presented by the reverse stick at grass roots level – as highlighted in The Hockey Paper‘s coverage – but is not in favour of banning the technique outright.
“If you look at us at a senior level we are more alert and can get out of the way,” she said. “You can compare it to the junior game where there is less skill and core strength and where they are putting themselves at risk, especially with defenders getting in the way.
“I can understand the dangers but to ban the reverse stick is a big change. But a reverse stick dink is a compromise and you can build strength and technicality from there.”
White’s safety concerns centre around helmets and face masks, which are common in the USA and also filtering into the game in Spain.
She added: “They stop fractures and that’s a good thing but I don’t think it’s a solution as it would change people’s behaviour [on the pitch].
Overall, with concussion injuries on the rise, White is urging the FIH to look more closely into player safety as the game continues to evolve.
She concluded: “The FIH hold the rules and regulations. They are aware that this has been flagged up but whether it will be implemented soon, that’s what I’m not so sure about. We need to be aware of the other side of the coin as the game adapts.”
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