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At the Top of His Game: Three-Time Olympian Ashley Jackson Joins Team STX
The #RiseoftheElite never stops!
At 30 years old, Ashley Jackson is field hockey’s newest legend – he was the first English player ever to win the International Hockey Federation Young Player of the Year Award in 2009, has competed in three Olympic Games and is currently the all-time leading goal scorer for both Team Great Britain and Team England.
He’s also super passionate about helping young kids discover a love for sports and grow their skills. A family man at heart, he runs Jackson 7 Coaching with his brother Wesley, traveling all over the country, putting on clinics and camps.
We recently caught up with the midfielder to talk about his start in the sport, his record-breaking scoring technique and his puppy Basil (scroll for cute puppy pics!) – check it out:
1. You’re one of the biggest names in field hockey right now – how did you first get into the sport?
To be honest, it’s sort of a fluke that I landed in the sport – growing up, I actually played ice hockey and cricket. Then when I was eight, I moved to a new school and field hockey was massive there. I had never touched a field hockey stick before, so before the school session started, my father took me to our local club team to get some exposure. After that, I decided to give it a go – I tried out for the school team, ended up making it and the rest is history.
2. You’ve had some pretty massive moments in your career so far – the stuff legends are made of – what would you say has been your biggest highlight to date?
My biggest highlight would have to be winning the gold medal at the 2009 EuroHockey Nations Championship. There’s just nothing likewinning a major championship for your country – the high is insane and you’re just buzzin’ for days after – I still get excited thinking about that moment, rushing the pitch.
A close second is being the all-time top scorer for England and Great Britain. There have been so many amazing athletes in the sport and to have my name counted among them is truly an honor.
3. As the all-time top scorer for England and GB, can you share a few tips for aspiring players?
Be that guy or girl who stays an extra hour after practice. When everyone else goes home, don’t. Keep practicing.
Also, work on different ways to score. Every player has his signature move or scoring style, but it’s really important to diversify your skill set, especially when it comes to close-goal scoring. As much as we’d all love to score the wonder strike, the truth is most goals are scored in close proximity to the goal. If you want to get past the defense and make it in the goal, you better have a bunch of different angles and approaches up your sleeve.
4. You obviously have to stay in really great shape – walk us through what that looks like. You get up, slip on your trainers, go to the gym and you…?
Before I begin a workout, I always start with a warm-up! When you’re working out everyday, it’s so easy to skip the warm-up. You figure, “I do this everyday and I’ve got a lot to get done; warm-ups are for gym class.” So not true! It’s absolutely critical that your body is prepared before a workout – it helps to prevent injury.
Once I’m warmed up and ready to go, I move into some form of lifting. Core-based workouts are a big focus for me. Depending on the day, I’ll incorporate isolated muscle strengthening exercises and some sport-specific moves into the mix.
(Wondering where to start? Check out this field hockey weight training routine.)
5. You work with your brother to grow the game through Jackson 7 Coaching Camps – what’s the dream behind that and what’s it like to work as a family to grow the sport?
To say it’s awesome working with Wes would be an understatement – he’s an incredible coach and has a real gift for teaching kids. I love watching him and learning from him. Plus, he’s my best mate so it's such a blast!
As far as the dream…we’ve been in the sport for a long time and can relate to what these young athletes are going through. When we got the idea for the camp, we felt that we could offer the next generation of athletes an experience that they couldn’t get anywhere else. And let me tell you, there’s nothing more rewarding than watching a kid fall in love with field hockey. Hearing kids say that they were inspired to play the sport because they had a great time and learned a lot at our camp – it never gets old!
6. When you aren’t on the pitch, what do you like to do in your free time?
Friends and family mean the world to me, so I try to spend as much time at home with family and our puppy lab Basil. I also love golf so I try to hit the course as much as possible!
Ashley isn’t the only Great Britain squad member to team up with STX. Check out our interview with Olympic Gold Medalist Alex Danson on winning team chemistry, gear obsessions, and her Carpool Karaoke playlist!