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*Video* Mental Preparedness is Key Ireland Hockey International

Ireland International Hockey player Shirley McCay took time out of her busy schedule to talk to sports students from SERC's Bangor and Lisburn campuses about mental preparation in sport.  

Shirley took to the game at the age of 12 with Omagh Academy, and swiftly proved that she was an elite athlete, representing Ireland at both under 16 and under 18 levels. Over the course of her career, she has competed in major sporting events including European and World Championships. Last year, Shirley and Team Ireland earned a silver medal at the 2018 Women's Hockey World Cup and since 2015 she has held the title of Ireland's most capped woman in field hockey international. Shirley is also a full-time coach with the Ulster Hockey Union and looks towards qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Speaking to the Foundation Degree students about her physical and mental preparation for games she said, “Firstly, make sure you have made notes about the game and that you are prepared in terms of the opposition.  If you are a defender, talk to other defenders, so you are all on the same page.   Secondly, mentally rehearse any set pieces you are involved in which may be pivotal to the game, remember how you felt when they worked well and mentally rehearse how this worked in the game.   Finally, prepare yourself for matches in a way that suits you.   If you need to be active, dancing and jumping about do that, but if you need to be reflective and quiet then make time for this.   It is important to practise what works best with you and stick with it.”

Lynda Robinson, SERC Deputy Head of School for the School of Applied Science, Sport and Access to Education said, “We were delighted to have an elite sportsperson such as Shirley visit SERC.   It has been invaluable for the students to have the opportunity to ask questions covering everything from juggling studying with playing sport at a high level, dealing with pressure and commitment, game management and tactics and of course the importance of mental preparedness. She is a fantastic role model of how hard work and determination can take you to the highest levels in your game and a truly successful career.   We wish her continued success and are confident her Olympic ambitions will soon be reality.”

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