The Netherlands is one of the most competitive countries in hockey. It is known to be played at an extremely fast pace and with snazzy skills. The club system is very strong with a competitive National league for both men and women.
Historically, the women’s national team is the most winningest team in the world with eight World Cup championships in 1974, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1990, 2006, 2014, and 2018. They have also clenched gold medals in the Beijing and London Olympics, and silver medal in Rio. On the men’s side, they have similarly seen success, taking home three World Cup championship titles, gold medals in 1996 and 2000, and silver medals in Athens and London Olympics.
The country’s success in Holland is derived from a culture where hockey is one of the most popular sports. According to A-Team member and THC Hurley hockey player Wendela Van Dedem: “Kids start as young as 6 years old. When they get to 12, they basically already training 2-3 times a week. The intensity is a lot higher.”
So, what does their country’s club system look like? How has hockey been integrated with Holland’s culture? See below to answer some of the basic questions about hockey in the region.
What are the different levels of play and leagues?
There are five main leagues (below) ordered from highest level of play being the Hoofdklasse, to least competitive level of play in the 4th Class. The leagues range from 12 to 24 teams in each.
When is the team in season?
Early August is typically when preseason begins. The season is long, spanning from September through May. There are two halves of the season with a break in December through till February where indoor hockey is played instead. There is one hockey game typically played per week, allowing teams to play around 22 games in a season, competing with every team in their league twice.
In May, soon after the regular competition ends, the post-season playoffs begin for those teams that qualify. Either in mid-April or mid-May, the team that wins the playoffs automatically qualifies into the European Hockey League for the following year.
June and July are basically off-season to rest and train until next season. From July and August onwards, teams let other (new future) players (from other clubs and freshmen) train with them to figure out the team for next season.
How frequently are trainings?
The amount of training and fitness sessions per week vary on both the division and club you play for. Teams in the ‘Hoofdklasse’ train 4 to 5 times per week whereas teams in the 1st Class normally trains 2 or 3 times a week. Typically, there are fitness 1 or 2 times a week and do conditioning independently. There is limited focus on weight training, yet instead an intense focus on skill development, speed and body weight work.
Do teams travel far within their leagues?
The amount of traveling for games also depends on the league the team is in. The premier league travels all over the Netherlands, which may be up to a 3-hour drive. The other conferences compete within their region, usually not having to drive more than one hour for a match.
Register/Log In here to learn more about hockey and the recruiting process in Holland. Through the Uru platform, you can also get involved on opportunities in the region, track Holland stars like Wendela van Dedem and Ireen van den Assem, and receive updates on teams.
Photos courtesy of: Oranje Hockey, HC Rotterdam, Gooische Heren, Overbos, Roomburg, MOP, Voorhout