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Last night I went to check out Karate Kid with my wife. If you grew up in the 80′s you had to have seen the original with Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. It was a cool show back then and I was curious to see how Jackie Chan and the young Smith boy would do in the remake. And it wasn’t half bad. Chan still has a some moves left in him for this type of martial arts movie and Smith is well, let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He definitely has his dad’s charisma and mannerisms. But what does this all have to do with hockey training?

Well in the movie Chan accepts Smith as a student to train him for karate. And he quickly establishes a protocol for training. For example training is at a certain time, place and location. And before the student can enter for training he must ask permission. Once he is allowed to enter, the old master has him take off his jacket, throw it down, pick it, hang it up and repeat. He makes him do these tasks repeatedly with the right form and attitude. Flashback to the 80′s version and you’ll remember the student having to ‘wax-on, wax-off’.

Soon the student becomes frustrated and takes it out verbally on the master telling him he’s wasting his time and needs to start training for karate instead of hanging up and taking off his jacket. It’s at this point that the master demonstrates the ingrained skills the student has learned by performing these movements repeatedly for the past few weeks. And here’s where the connection to hockey training comes in.

Sometimes I’ll work with hockey players who feel they should be doing certain exercises and may question why they are doing others. This doesn’t happen a lot but sometimes it does.

Or you speak with parents who ask me if I use a particular tool for training or have a particular ‘hockey specific’ exercise. And after biting my tongue I’ll smile and gently say that I haven’t used the tool or exercise they are referring. And here’s why.

To some the following drill may appear to have nothing to do with hockey.

I mean they aren’t standing on a balance board. Nor do they have a stick in their hands. How can this drills translate to hockey? They aren’t doing anything that resembles the game of hockey.

What this exercise does produce however is ground-based strength and power. There is a triple extension at the ankle-knee-hip and the athlete completes the movement with a weight overhead requiring a stable core and balance on their feet. Remind you of any movements?

In this picture the hockey player is accelerating by generating ground-based speed. The left leg has just completed a push off and is in triple extension. And as the play heads up ice the core is stable and the chest is tall. Sounds almost exactly like what the exercise above develops, doesn’t it?

As you continue with your off-season hockey training program remember that ‘hockey-specific’ doesn’t necessarily mean the exercise or drill has to look like the game of hockey. In fact in most cases the most effective exercises that will improve on-ice performance the most may look nothing like the game. Think instead what it is you are trying to get out of the exercise or drill to decide how beneficial it may be to improving your game.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   onsidehockeytraining.com

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