For anyone that spends any appreciable amount of timing training for hockey the goal is always the same. To improve your on-ice performance in the game of hockey.

Nobody does mobility and stability work before each workout just so they can sleep easier at night knowing their pelvis is neutral.

Nobody enlists the help of a coach or trainer just so they have someone to hang out with at the gym.

And nobody tracks their workouts and loads so they can use these as credits during the season to leverage more ice time from the coach.

But don’t get me wrong. Stability and mobility work, working with a strength coach as well as tracking your workouts are all very good things to do by every hockey player out there.

But you only do them to get better at the game of hockey. Period.

And in order to determine which things you need to address first and in what priority you need to have an assessment. This can involve looking at your static posture. Or seeing what the body does when it’s motion. Both with just bodyweight or with extra load.

But there is also another type of assessment that is invaluable to determining what a hockey player needs to work on to become the best player he or she can be.

And you know what this assessment is?

It’s simply watching the hockey player play the game of hockey.

This provides huge amounts of information that can’t be gathered in gym or any type of clinical performance lab.

Why is this so assessment so unique and vital? Because it allows for specific levels of competition and fatigue that aren’t seen during training.

But I thought some training is supposed to be competitive? And I thought some training should test the true mettle of a hockey player as it relates to their fitness and their resistance to fatigue?

You’re right on both counts. But on the training room floor we want to be able to control certain elements of the training to unsure specificity, safety and to avoid developing bad habits. What do I mean by that?

Well imagine having a hockey player perform deadlifts from the floor until failure. First of all, many hockey players probabaly don’t have the spinal stability and control to pull from the floor to begin with but let’s assume that they do. At a certain point during the set fatigue will begin to set in.

And as they begin to fatigue they begin using an alterate movment strategy to get the bar from the floor to lockout. And since we’ve conditioned hockey players to worry about rep count and not technique they will continue ‘pulling’ in spite of their deteriorating form.

Whatever you do, don’t deadlift like this!

We may see a weight shift forward from the heels to the balls of the feet or worse to the toes. We may see less recruitment of the posterior chain hamstrings and glutes and more help from the quads. This extra quad help would be confirmed by dorsiflexion and angling forward of the shins.

We also might see a loss of neutral spine upon initiation of the pull along with a posterior pelvic tilt. As the core continues to break down we’ll see the upper back round more which wrongly encourage an upward tilt of the head to attempt to restore the low back arch.

Finally as their is no glute strength remaining at all the hockey player has no choice to complete the lift than to ‘hitch’ the weight up and throw the shoulders back.

And as the hockey player completes this terrible lift they simply let the weight fall to the floor to repeat another poor attempt.

Training in this way would do more harm than good. Training in this way would ingrain poor poor motor control patterns. And training in this way would increase the chance of injury.

And while hockey players may become injured during on-ice play they should never get hurt due to poor programming on the gym floor.

So while we do want to train as explosively and intensely during our dryland training we do set limits on our training to ensure we reap all of the rewards with as few consequences as possible.

In the next post I’ll discuss some of the things to look for during a hockey game to assess what a hockey player should be working on with their off-ice training.


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