Floorball gets your heart pumping

National floorballer Abdul Hafiz Zubir demonstrates his warm-up moves. He is showing the lunge and stretch exercise.

Floorball was introduced to Singapore more than two decades ago.

In 1996, Singapore sent its first national floorball team to compete in the first World Floorball Championship held in Sweden.

The popularity of the sport has since grown and it is now widely played both competitively and as a recreational pastime here.

The fast-paced indoor sport that blends elements of ice hockey with other team sports, such as football and basketball, makes its debut in the SEA Games this month.

It is played between two teams of six players each. Each player carries a floorball stick.

There are many reasons why people play floorball. For one, it is fun and easy to pick up.

It is an advantage when participants of a team sport have fun, said Dr Frankie Tan, head of the Sports Science Centre and the Singapore Sports Institute. If so, they are not just preoccupied with the intense exercise they are engaged in.

Playing floorball also comes with a host of health benefits.

Training is intense, with many short sprints and directional changes which get the heart pumping, said Dr Tan. Such sustained high intensity physical activity is good for heart health.

The sport also helps to build muscles, endurance and stamina, he said. Players develop explosive power, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, as well as improve their agility, as the game requires them to change direction quickly.

BENEFICIAL FOR WOMEN

A recent study showed that playing floorball can help women lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of stroke.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that team sports, such as floorball, can help to make up for oestrogen loss in menopausal women, which, in turn, improves their heart health.

When women enter menopause, their oestrogen levels taper off, putting them at risk of heart disease.

Twenty-three women, who were pre-menopausal or had recently undergone the transition, were tested before and after the 12-week training period, during which they played floorball twice a week.

The study, published in The American Journal Of Physiology last year, found that following just 12 weeks of twice-weekly practice sessions improved the women's physical conditions.

The researchers noted that the high intensity of the game is one of the primary reasons that the women were able to achieve great health benefits in a short span of time.

Their blood pressure was reduced by 4mmHg, which corresponded with a 40 per cent lower risk of stroke.

In addition, there was a 20 per cent decrease in markers associated with arteriosclerosis, a condition where the arteries harden.

Benefits aside, a player should always warm up properly before getting into the thick of the action.

There are two main phases, said Dr Tan. The first phase consists of light aerobic exercises, such as jogging, static and dynamic stretching, and specific body preparation exercises, short sprints and agility drills.

The second phase involves game-specific drills, such as shooting from the semi-circle and zigzag shooting, he said.

SOCIAL BONDING

When national floorballer Abdul Hafiz Zubir (left) was 13 years old, he was introduced to the game by a classmate at Northbrooks Secondary School.

The 25-year-old plays floorball three to four times a week, This increased to five times a week when training for the SEA Games started. Each session lasts about 21/2 hours.

He also plays field hockey on the weekends.

"Hockey has helped me increase my fitness as well as hone some tactical plays that I can use for floorball," said the retail executive.

However, the most difficult part of training is not the physical aspect, but the mental endurance to keep going when fatigue sets in, he said.

"In floorball, you have to make decisions quickly with the ball as the pace is really fast."

He has suffered both minor and major injuries, such as muscle strains and fractures, from playing floorball.

"Normally, injuries occur after collisions with other players and falling at high speed," he said.

But getting hurt is not going to stop him from playing the sport any time soon.

"I enjoy the speed and excitement that the game provides," he said.

He also enjoys the social bonding before and after matches.

"We build friendships and have fun playing the game together."

You can catch him in action with the national floorball team today at ITE College East.

Warm up moves

National floorballer Abdul Hafiz Zubir demonstrates his warm-up moves.

Side stretch

Step with your right leg over your left and lean your weight on the left foot. Stretch both arms out towards your right.

You should feel a stretch in your left abdominal oblique muscle and right leg.

Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Hamstring stretch

Sit with your right leg extended in front of you and your left leg bent with your left foot against your right inner thigh.

Lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, and reach for your right foot. Grab onto the top of the right foot. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring.

Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for the other leg.

Lunge and twist

Take a step forward with your right foot and bend at the knee to form a 90-degree angle, leaving your left leg behind you and left knee on the floor.

Stretch your arms out in front of you. Twist your torso 90 degrees to the left. Your left arm should be stretched out and your right hand over your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds, repeat 10 times. Do the same for the left side.

Lunge and stretch

Take a step forward with your right foot and bend at the knee to form a 90-degree angle, leaving your left leg behind you and left knee on the floor.

While keeping your right knee bent, extend your right arm up over your head and stretch to the left until you feel a stretch in your right abdominal oblique muscle.

Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times. Do the same for the left side.

Mountain climbers

Start in a push-up position with your hands directly under your chest; arms straight and shoulder-width apart.

Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can.

Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.

Alternate both legs quickly for 30 seconds.

Side plank

Lie on your left side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm.

Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.

Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Do the same for the right side.


This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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