For Scotland and Great Britain hockey striker Charlotte Watson, world class facilities like Dundee’s Regional Performance Centre (RPC) help her stay on top of her game.
Having enjoyed high-quality coaching throughout her career, the 22-year-old now has access to sportscotland institute of sport services at the £32 million facility, which opened in 2019.
Charlotte uses the RPC when she returns to her home city from England, where she currently plays for Loughborough University in the EHL Premier Division, and she sees it as a vital asset for all performance athletes in Tayside and Fife.
She said: “The RPC is a fantastic facility and I’ve used it a lot. The whole place is brilliantly kitted out, with plenty of gym racks and other equipment, which means you can train properly.
"The better the facilities, the more it supports you and helps you improve.
“It really helps me keep fit when I come home, using the hall and athletics track for running sessions and in the gym with a coach. My favourite things are shooting at goal and doing weights – running I can do without, unless I’ve got a stick in my hand and a ball at my feet!”
The RPC is just one way that Charlotte has benefited from sportscotland support over the years, mainly through injury prevention and strength and conditioning (S&C) advice.
She revealed: “Getting in the gym a couple of times a week with a dedicated S&C coach has been really helpful, especially when I was younger and needed to build myself up to keep up with the older girls.
"As a forward, you need to stand your ground so the gym work definitely helped, doing things like back squats, dead lifts and working on my core.
“The injury prevention side has been a massive help too. I’ve been quite lucky so far, but the ongoing guidance from the institute has been a huge benefit. The extra detail and focus on skills and tactics has also helped ramp up my learning massively.
“New coaches bring different ideas and aspects of the game, which all gives you the extra 1% you need. The past year in particular has been a huge learning curve.”
Charlotte's hockey career started at Dundee Wanderers when she was five and she has enjoyed high-quality coaching throughout her career.
She recalled: “I started playing because I wanted to copy my big brother. So I went along to a training session and after that I was hooked.
“I was quite a shy kid but Ben and Marlyn Gibson at Wanderers supported me and encouraged me to move up to senior hockey when I was 12. Head coach Iain Strachan and assistant Vikki Bunce then helped me develop to the first team. When I was there I loved it; I just needed that push to get over my shyness.”
Charlotte’s journey culminated in a spectacular 2019, during which she gained her 50th cap for Scotland, scored in the Women’s FIH Series Finals in Banbridge, received her first call-up for Great Britain and was selected for the provisional GB squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Charlotte said: “It was an amazing year – I couldn’t have imagined everything that happened.
"It’s everyone’s dream to go to the Olympics but I never thought I could potentially get picked for Tokyo. I thought I might have my first chance at Paris 2024, but apparently not!”
Another highlight came when she scored the winning goal for Scotland against Italy in the final of the Women's EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow.
She recalled: “My friends and family came down from Dundee to cheer us on. That definitely helped but we were already confident – there was no way we were going to get to a final in Scotland and not win it.”
The triumphant Scotland squad was subsequently crowned team of the year at the 2019 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards, and Charlotte said: “Hockey doesn’t always get the most recognition, so something like that helped put the sport on the map and will hopefully inspire others to take it up.”
The only downside of Charlotte’s whirlwind year was the Tokyo Olympic Games being postponed – but she’s determined to grab her chance when it does come.
She said: “From a personal point of view, Tokyo is my goal for 2021, and then another Olympics after that as well as the Commonwealth Games with Scotland.
“It was gutting to miss out on Tokyo this year because of Coronavirus. We’d spent so long training and everyone’s heads were really in the zone when we got the news. Now we’re all just hungry to get out there for real.”
Find out more
Discover more about hockey at the Scottish Hockey website
Find information about coaching at the sportscotland website
Sport For Life: summary of progress is sportscotland's annual review for 2019-20
- Visit the project home page to absorb the data that illustrates our progress in the period April 2019 to March 2020
- This report covers the first year of our new corporate strategy. Discover more about Sport For Life.
- You can find also Sport For Life 2019-20 alongside previous annual reviews on the sportscotland website.