When we train for hockey it is to improve our performance in hockey. Because while hockey players may utilize powerlifting, Olympic lifting, sprints and other types of training in their efforts to improve it is always for the purpose of:

* reduced potential for injury

* enhanced performance

And because of this we aren’t too concerned with all of the technical issues that are associated with these types of training. For example we aren’t overly concerned as to whether or not all three judges would give them the green lift on a squat attempt. Nor are we overly focused on certain aspects of the Olympic lifts. And lastly we won’t be breaking down their mechanics for sprinting to improve in this area. Actually when you consider how distinct the skating stride motion is compared to sprinting on land, we don’t don’t want to interfere with this movement by over-coaching it when on land.

So the name of the game is specificity but in the end performance rules. So if your hockey player pulls 500 lbs deadlifts, snatches 200 lbs and has excellent body angles when sprinting you may have to re-think your philosophy towards hockey training. Is it to develop lifters or players? Is it to put up big numbers in the weight room or on the ice? Where do you want your hockey players to shine?

Now with that being said there is a great tool that is gaining more use among the hockey training community. This tool is the kettlebell.  If you’re not familiar with this implement think of a cannon ball with a handle.

What originated in Russia is now familiar in general fitness circles and more recently in hockey training rooms. It combines elements of strength, power, muscular endurance, stability and coordination; elements that are essential to every hockey player.

One of the most basic kettlebell movements is the swing. This can be done with two hands or one, in a static or dynamic position with a number of other variations thrown in. I like the kettlebell swing because:

* It is ground based. Both feet are firmly planted and allows the hockey player to feel how force is generated by pushing into the ground.

* When performed properly it causes the hockey player to rely on the big muscles of the hips, glutes, trunk and legs.

* It  allows for quality hip extension and glute firing at the completion of the swing.

* There is an opportunity for metabolic conditioning as heart rates will climb quickly while performing the swing.

* It helps train the hip hinge movement which can be transferred effectively to other lifts and drills.

How to perform the swing

1. Place the kettlebell on the ground between the legs and in line with heels. This shortens the lever on the lumbar and facilitates loading of the posterior chain.

2. Grab the handle with an overhand, closed grip.

3. Push the chest as tall as possible and maintain a forward focus.

4. As you stand up squeeze the glutes to drive the hips forward and allow the kettlebell to swing out in front of the body.

Extra notes

* The arms should be long with no bend at the elbows.

* The bottom of the bell should be a continuation of the arms. Do not allow the bottom of the bell to point down at the completion of the swing.

* Do not hold your breath. Inhale during the descent and exhale during the lift.

* Try and find a balanced, natural cadence to the swing.

Look to incorporate kettlebells into your workouts. But remember they are one tool towards building the ultimate hockey player.


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