Henman tells GB men’s hockey team how to cope with home crowd pressure
13 July 2012
Loughborough University’s Richard Smith has revealed that Tim Henman has given Team GB men’s hockey team advice on how to cope with the pressure of competing in front of an expectant home crowd.
Henman knows all about the demands of the public and media after the years he spent trying to become the first British tennis player to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry.
So coach Jason Lee, a Loughborough graduate and former coach of Loughborough Students, asked him to give the 16-strong squad a talk before the London 2012 Olympics.
Richard, one of seven players with Loughborough links in the squad, said it was helpful.
Richard, who receives the results of his Masters in Business Analysis and Management this week, said: “He talked about playing in front of a home crowd and said the pressure is what you make it, basically you put pressure on your own head if you allow it.
“I think it’s fantastic that we are playing in front of our home fans. I don’t feel the pressure too much.
“I get the sense that for the Olympics everyone comes together and supports Team GB more so than in other sports, like football at the World Cup where there is expectation and pressure and people are judgemental.
“Hopefully, if we can go about things in the way I know we can that will please people.
“And if it goes slightly against us people will realise that it’s a result of close games and not that we have not tried, or gone for it.”.
Great Britain, ranked fourth in the world, are in the same pool as favourites and world champions Australia, Spain, Pakistan, Argentina and South Africa.
Argentina are first up on July 30, followed by South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and Spain.
Two qualify from each pool and Richard thinks their hopes of reaching the semi-finals may come down to the showdown with Spain.
He said: “Jason keeps telling us we are going to finish anywhere between first and ninth, which shows we are trying to play in a way we can win it.
“I think we have a reasonable chance. If we do ourselves justice we will definitely be in the medal games.
“But there are close games on the way. The 12 teams there are the best in the world.
“The first three games are ones we want to win. And then we have games against Australia and Spain, who are closest ranked to us.
“Australia are obviously the hardest. It may come down to the crunch game against Spain who are ranked fifth in the world, and we have had close results against them in the last few years.
“That could be a huge finale to get into the medal games, but we feel we are in a good position to push for a medal.”