In Part I of this article I talked about the rationale for off-ice hockey training. And this always has to be geared towards improving your on-ice performance.

You need to know that you are faster, stronger, fitter and more resilient to injury.

Otherwise you might question all of your efforts in the gym, particularly during the off-season.

But let’s assume you were following a quality program and got some decent results.

Does it end there now that the season is in full swing? Do you simply focus on your practices and games?

Well as a hockey player you can focus on the game itself. Sure you’ll have some in-season workouts and may have an occasional mid-point assessment but the type of assessment I’m referring is done by someone in the stands.

This assessment is to look at your on-ice performance during an actual hockey game.

I’m fortunate to be able to watch a number of our players play. I have WHL season tickets and get out and watch some bantam and major midget games as well.

And this tells me a lot of the hockey players we are trying to help.

It tells me:

1. What is their warm-up like? Are they moving in all planes from side to side, forwards and back as well as turning in and out? Are they working on various speeds and builds up to develop acceleration? Is the movement smooth and flowing or does it look restricted and choppy?

2. What does their skating look like? I’m not expecting you to be a skating coach and be able to break down all the technical aspects of the stride. But you should be able to distinguish a strong skater with a weak one. You should be able to spot a skater that makes it look effortless as compared to one who looks like they’re skating in sand. What is their body position like when they skake? While skating what do the head and torso do?

3. What is their overall strength like? Are they strong on the puck? Can they pin the puck against the boards and keep their body position on the penalty kill chewing up valuable seconds? On the power play are they an immovable force in front of the net? Conversely can they move others out from the front of their net?

4. What are their energy systems like? Are they explosive and win battles for pucks? Can they stay out for a penalty kill and not be gassed? And how does this all affect their play in the 3rd period? Namely does their strength last and does their skating look as good in the third as it did in the warm-up?

5. What is their mental state like? How do they react after getting scored on? How about when they get high sticked and the ref misses the call? Do they take a retaliation penalty? Are they a leader on the team? If so is it by action? Or by word? Or both?

Can you see the loads of feedback you can get from watching a hockey player in an actual game? Do you see all the aspects of their performance that may not be available to you on the gym floor or in a performance lab? And can you see the enormous value the answers to all these questions have in terms of being able to fine tune and customize a hockey training program?

So I encourage you to watch yourself play. Have some videotape your games. Try and answer the above questions. And if you work with a coach or trainer ask them to come check out a hockey game as well.


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