One thing I find really fascinating about hockey players is their nutritional habits. They are all over the board. Some have a good understanding as what quality nutrition is and others are completely in the dark. Some may have a good understanding but for whatever reason they fail to apply this information. And then there are those that are mis-informed and make poor choices due to ignorance rather than laziness or apathy. And sometimes this makes me think of an old Seinfeld episode.

Yeah that’s right Seinfeld makes me think about hockey players and their nutrition. Here’s why.

In a particular episode Kramer buys in to a non-fat frozen yogurt business. Everyone is loving the guilt free aspect of eating as much fat-free frozen yogurt as they like without the problems associated with full fat yogurt.

***quick aside…I’m not advocating fat-free diets here…simply using a funny episode to make a point***

After a while Jerry et al become suspicious of the claims of this food after everyone starts gaining weight. And after they send a sample to the lab they realize the yogurt isn’t fat free after all and have all been consuming loads of extra calories every day.

So what does this have to with hockey training? Well sometimes hockey players can be lulled into a false sense of security regarding energy intake because they are athletes. They may feel as though they can eat whatever they want because their activity level is so much higher than the average person’s.

And there is some truth to this. True a hockey player is much more active than the average person. And true a hockey player’s success is based more on performance and less on how much of a six pack he or she has. And also true that a hockey player requires substantially more calories than the average person.

But this is not a free pass to eat anything and everything whenever the urge strikes. Hockey players need to be a little more aware than that of the nutritonal choices they are making. Actually a lot more aware.

We will always preach to the hockey players that we work with that we want to play at their heaviest weight that doesn’t compromise their athleticism.

What do I mean by that? It means that you don’t lose any speed as you add mass to your frame. It means you don’t lose your ability to move on all planes as well as you could with less size. And lastly it means that this extra size doesn’t work against you and cause you to fatigue towards the ends of games.

Why is that important? Well being powerful is a function of being able to generate force in a minimal amount of time. A larger hockey player, with increasede lean body mass, should have an advantage to generate higher levels of force lending to higher power outputs.

Additionally hockey is contact sport. When two players collide usually the smaller player ends up worse for the wear. Obviously there are more factors involved in throwing a crushing hit besides the size of the player but extra size doesn’t hurt. As a winning coach of a larger team said after winning a tournament once said ‘smaller, quicker teams will eventually tire. Bigger players never get smaller’.

But is the goal of increased mass for hockey players for everyone? Well not exactly. It may not be the best strategy for young hockey players or for goalies. Young hockey players should let the growth process take its course naturally. Putting on size can come later. And goalies are not throwing a lot of hits and quickness will serve them better than more muscle on their body.

So as hockey players head into this Halloween weekend they need to think about what they are putting in their mouths. Increased body mass (translation = increase lean body mass) may be a good thing if it leads to the benefits listed above. But downing chocolate bars and chips will add mass but compromise health and performance in the end.

All the best,


Leave a Reply