A quick look at the German women’s team sheet for the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin and you will spot some very familiar names from the outdoor game. Included among the star-studded team are captain Janne Muller-Weiland, super-star defender Nike Lorenz, midfielder Anne Schroeder, and the trio of dynamic forwards Lisa Altenburg, Franzisca Hauke and Marie Mavers.
On the men’s side, Martin Häner, Mats Grambusch, Christopher Ruhr and Tobias Hauke are among the players well known to fans of the outdoor version of hockey.
This is at odds with many of the teams participating in both the men’s and women’s Indoor Hockey World Cup, where there is little cross-over between the players representing their teams on the field or in the hall.
"Playing under pressure in a tight space will improve offensive and decision making skills. You can also develop and work on defending skills, especially in man-on-man marking...”
Germany (outdoor) Head Coach, Stefan Kermas
One of the reasons is the amount of time devoted to indoor hockey. Where many nations have a very short indoor playing season – in the Netherlands, for example, the game only moves indoors for part of December and January – in Germany, the indoor season lasts from the beginning of December through to the end of February. For that reason, the game is viewed as part and parcel of the hockey season.
As Head Coach to the German women’s team Akim Bouchouchi explains: “We choose to use this Indoor Hockey World Cup to expose our players to international hockey and all the aspects that come along with it. Other nations are now touring the world to prepare for the outdoor Hockey World Cup, for us these events are part of the preparation for the outdoor World Cup.”
One of the reasons for the prevalence of indoor hockey in Germany is the weather. Bouchouchi says a full programme for indoor hockey was introduced a long time ago so the players could continue training and playing throughout the winter.
These are all points with which the men’s Head Coach Stefan Kermas agrees: “We see indoor hockey as a good technical and tactical education as well as developing tool for younger players. So all German hockey players grow up with a lot of experience in indoor hockey.”
Kermas adds that indoor hockey helps develop some essential skills for the outdoor game: “Playing under pressure in a tight space will improve offensive and decision making skills. You can also develop and work on defending skills, especially in man-on-man marking. Last but not least elements and principles of zonal defence systems, which are so important in indoor hockey, can be used outdoor as well.”
Both coaches agree that playing in front of a large home crowd will be a tremendous experience for the players and one which will prepare them for the huge crowds at the men's and women's Hockey World Cups later this year.
“Indoor hockey has a long tradition and high status in Germany,” says Bouchouchi, “For that, the Hockey Indoor World Cup in Berlin will be a great event. It is the first big tournament in Germany for three years and we want to give our players the opportunity to experience this type of event. In addition, the players really like to play indoor and they are looking forward to a big crowd and fantastic atmosphere.”