For every up-and-coming athlete turning your craft into a career is nothing short of a climb.

Tom Lysaght, a Junior Black Stick from 2007 to 2011, has his sights set on a spot in the Black Sticks Development Squad, soon to be announced in the coming months; another stepping stone in reaching his ultimate goal of representing New Zealand at the Olympics as part of the Black Sticks team.

The budding hockey goalie, and NPD Innovation Planner at Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand, was recently selected as one of eleven budding athletes to partake in the Powerade Breakthrough Academy, a day long programme led by sports elite and industry experts.  This year’s inaugural event gave participants a chance to learn from NBA star Steven Adams and All Blacks Liam Messam, Aaron Smith, Julian Savea and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

We asked Tom to share his experience with us:

Tell us how you felt about being selected to attend the Powerade Breakthrough Academy?

TOM: I felt very lucky and privileged to go along to such an awesome and unique event. I knew it was going to be a great opportunity to learn from the best in the business around training and performing at my peak, as well as getting to meet and spend time with some top sports stars.

What was it like meeting Oklahoma City Thunder centre Steven Adams?

TOM: It was awesome to meet the big guy. You never know if people you see on TV are going to be the same in real life but it was great to see he was exactly the same. Once we started talking to him we quickly saw the fame definitely hadn’t gone to his head. It was great to meet a Kiwi making it big on the world scene but still staying a Kiwi at heart.

All Blacks Aaron Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam and Julian Savea spent some time with you on the day. Did they share any words of wisdom with you?

TOM: A key message the guys had was doing all the little extra bits and pieces all adds up over time, if the coach tells you to do 10 push ups you do 11 instead. Nic Gill the All Blacks trainer talked about how that approach to training is just one of the ways that turns someone from good athlete to a great athlete.

How will you take this advice and apply it to hockey?

TOM: There is still a lot of training on and off the turf to go for me to achieve my hockey goals. Their advice will help in both these areas, from facing an extra set of balls at training with one of the strikers or holding that stretch for an extra 30 seconds when doing my recovery sessions. 

Can you sum up the top key things you took away from the day?

TOM: Break my training and games down into a couple of key points to really focus on for that particular session, allowing me to improve on key areas of my game; keeping a strict routine for pre-game and don’t make any drastic changes to it even if I start to have some bad games; tips and tricks on developing a better nutrition plan while I am running back and forth between training and work, preparation is the key.