Nobody likes a cheater. It’s a pretty straightforward concept. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with paying your taxes, being a clean athlete or being honest with your spouse we’re taught to do the right thing.

So what’s up with the title? How can anyone cheat with their training?

Well I don’t think the people who are cheating necessarily mean to do so. But what happens is that we’ve made training more of a quantitative thing rather than a qualitative thing. For example we record reps, loads and times but give little value to tempo, range of motion, technique and control. And when the hockey players we’re working with begin to figure this out they begin to adapt their training towards a quantitative rather than a qualitative emphasis.

Consider the following.

A coach is testing hockey players as to how many vertical pulls they can do. Let’s say they are doing pull-ups. What is being measured and recorded is the number of reps each hockey player can perform. The first guy goes and does 8. The second guy now has a standard that has been set that he is trying to beat. This player may only be capable of 5 reps but by swinging his legs forward and back to generate a kipping motion, and by shortening his descent on the way down, and by tipping his head all the way back he is able to get 9 reps.

Now what do you think happens? The rest of the players see what this guy did to get a better score and they all follow suit. All with the goal of surpassing a quantitative standard rather than seeking qualitative excellence.

And this lesson is transferred to the training room floor. And you see poor habits being ingrained with a number of hockey players. Here are a couple of the more common cheats that are going on during hockey training sessions.

* Incomplete squat depth – Guess what? You can’t squat as much weight if you do all the way down. So if your training partner does a certain amount of reps with a particular weight you will limit your depth to match him. Especially if the weight is too much for you.

But guess what happens when you do this? You miss out on incorporating your glutes at the bottom of the lift and miss out on many of the benefits this lifts has to offer.

* Bouncing the bar off the chest. This is a classic example of being unable to eccentrically reduce the load on the bar. And since you are stronger during the eccentric movement but are still having trouble controlling the downward movement of the bar then you are definitely using too much load.

As with the squats we miss out on something here when this happens. If you can imagine pulling the bar down to the chest under control you will incorporate the lats and help save your shoulders. Plus you generate a better stretch through the chest to complete the rep.

Next time you perform a hockey training workout think more about the quality of the movement rather than the quantity. Don’t get drawn into a competition with your buddies over numbers of reps and loads used. You’re not training to be a powerlifter anyways. And if your friends entered a lifting competition with their poor quality of movement they’d probably get disqualified anyways.

You’ll get more benefit as a hockey player from your training by putting the emphasis on tempo, technique and range of motion rather than doing whatever it takes to achieve an arbitrary number.


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