I’m just on my way out the door to meet up with some of the top strength and conditioning specialists in the business down in Las Vegas. They do have an ECHL team, the Wranglers, an enthusiastic youth hockey association as well as some adult rec leagues. Might have to try and connect with some hockey people while I’m down there.

But anyways, back to the post. There’s a saying in sports ‘you play, you pay’. That injuries are more a matter of when not if. Now hopefully strength coaches, therapists and trainers are doing a better job at preparing our hockey players for the demands of the game with our off-ice hockey training. Hopefully we are doing more thorough assessments and are picking up on deficiencies before they become a problem.

And if we do the best job we can in identifying, correcting and fortifying the hockey players we work with the necessary athletic abilities for hockey than we should know that the majority of the non-contact injuries will be prevented. These are the types of injuries that happen with encountering an opponent, the boards or the ice.

You’ll recognize these injuries because you’ll see a player on the ice change his style of play and head directly to the bench and maybe through the tunnel to the dressing room. They may have pulled a groin trying to drag a skate at the blue line. Or maybe they hurt their back on a shot. Or felt their knee buckle as they made a quick change of direction. We need to do our best in preventing these.

But then there are the contact injuries that come occur from impact with an opponent, some equipment, the boards and the ice. And our goal should be to prepare our hockey players to be competent in absorbing and reducing these forces in the event they can’t avoid them.

Sometimes there is not the opportunity to avoid the contact. Sometimes an opponent takes a liberty and delivers a cheap shot. Sometimes the equipment fails. And so we can’t prevent injuries but we do our best to try and minimize the potential for them.

Once a hockey player is ready to return to game action he has to know he is 100%. This is especially true for first time injuries and for younger players. This is because the first time we get injured we don’t have the wisdom and experience to appreciate the time involved in the rehab process. I have witnessed too many hockey players, not ones we worked with fortunately, that rushed back to game action too soon. And you can see it in their play.

The play guarded. They don’t initiate. They shy away from contact. They shield the injured side from the play even at the expense of setting themselves positionally for a better play. They just aren’t as aggressive as they normally are. Basically they simply aren’t ready to play again.

In Part II of this post I’m going to go into more detail as to how a hockey player can determine if they are 100% or not. And if they aren’t 100% what are the questions they need to be asking themselves in order to make the most complete and efficient recovery possible.


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