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Have you ever suffered an injury and were surprised at how easily it happened? Or maybe it wasn’t as serious as an injury but you’ve simply noticed that one side of your body feels tighter than the other? Or maybe one side is slower to recover than the other? What about feeling stronger and more dominant on one side of the body? Have you ever noticed any of these things?

If you’ve been training and competing in hockey for any period of time you may have experienced some of the things described above. Especially the last point. Because let’s face it. We do have a dominant side and often times we are more coordinated and more confident on this side.

Think about doing a pressing motion where you are holding a dumbbell or barbell. From what we know about CAP (concurrent activation potentiation) we can elicit more muscle fibers when we squeeze the bar or dumbbell tightly. And if we are able to squeeze more tightly on one side than we may be generating different levels of force on the two sides of the body. Not a huge problem but just goes to show how easy it can be to develop more strength on our dominant side.

And our goal is always to develop balanced athleticism. We want to have no kinks in our armour. Because if there are any kinks our opponent will exploit them and or we may get injured.

Imagine if a d-man only felt comfortable turning left to go from forwards to backwards. Or imagine a forward that always drives the net to the right. Or a heavyweight that can only throw bombs with one hand. Or a team that only performed anaerobic intervals and ignored the other energy systems during their training.

It puts definite limits on their game. And if their opponent’s coaches are paying attention to this they will know how to beat them.

And as I was watching some hockey training videos I noticed how unbalanced the training practices of some hockey players are. In this video the hockey player was performing a shuttle. He would run to a line, touch the line, and run back to the starting position. He would then repeat this for a line further out than the first. Pretty straight forward drill.

The interesting thing about this video was that this hockey player was always stopping and changing direction on the same leg.

Big deal, right? Really?

Think about which part of this drill is the most taxing on the body? Think about when most injuries happen in sport? Think about being to stop equally well on either leg in a game?

Still think this doesn’t matter?

Imagine if you training plan for a particular day involved single leg hops. So jumping from one leg and landing on the same leg. And if the plan was to do 40 hops total would you do them all on one leg? Or would you split them up evenly? Would you maybe perform your non-dominant leg first?

And now think of all the drills and exercises where you have to start or stop on one leg? Is there any thought into balancing this out? Do you want to be equally competent on both sides of your body? And do you want to balance out the stress from a training session more evenly through two limbs rather than taking the brunt of it through one?

As you continue on with your hockey training keep these points in mind to have a more balanced body for hockey.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                     onsidehockeytraining.com

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