The Adjustment To Division One Field Hockey

I am often asked by parents of rising college first year athletes about the adjustment to a Division One level. The jump to any elite college level sport can be difficult and challenging whether it be in football, basketball or field hockey. The first adjustment is to speed and tempo of the game. At first glance, they may seem like similar characteristics but they are not. Clearly, whereas many first years will have played their high school game with a good team with some good players. It’s not a stretch to imagine that given only the best players rise to this level. Everyone will be good!!

It is not to say, that some will be better than others, and many will be more experienced on a veteran team. After an initial Division One season there will be some faster, stronger, bigger players,  more in tune with the current team. So when I write the word tempo, I mean there is less hesitation on passes, self starts and even on penalty corners.


As to speed, many will be just faster. Unlike high school the condition of water based astro turf just makes the ball faster and more like an ice hockey game. The new player will have to get used to finding space where their teammates will be, rather than where they are at the moment. 

Passing is more accurate and designed to create one on one situations, which makes defense a very important part of the game. Playing defense does not mean you are out of the offensive schemes. Many of Lafayette’s finest players were in the backfield and played key roles in counter attacking and on offensive and defensive corners. The counter attack can start many offensive scoring opportunities, and likewise defending against the counter attack is important.


Finally, especially in the United States version of the game, fitness plays a key role. Speed, tempo, and skill cannot be executed with out being physically ready. Most if not all coaches will be absolutely intense about the level of fitness. Players should expect extra sessions in the strength center, which not only increases strength and conditioning, but plays a role in injury prevention.

It goes without saying players are selected with their ability to handle the academic rigors as well as the athletic demands of Division one. A player on academic probation will not be helpful to the team.

President Hurd’s First Pronouncement To Faculty Is To Get Vaccinated

President Byerly left unresolved the requirements for staff vaccinations, even though students were compelled to be vaccinated or not be allowed to attend Lafayette. As of today, all staff are required to be vaccinated. If they are not vaccinated by a date this fall they will not be employed by the school. Kudos to our new president!!!

Published by

William Rappolt

I am past chairman of the Lafayette Friends of Field Hockey and a former BOT member at Lafayette College. My wife and I are members of the Board of Trustees for USA Field Hockey Foundation. I am currently Chairman of that Board. I am the retired treasurer of M and T Bank Corporation and a 30 year fan of Division one field hockey

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