One thing I really enjoy about working with hockey players is that no two are the same. You never get the same experience twice.

You could have two players of the same age, height and weight but score completely differently on their assessments and therefore need to address different issues.

Even in the case of twins you could have the situation where one is a forward and the other is a defenceman and therefore have different needs and train slightly differently.

The same player, from one year to the next, can have vastically different needs based on their changes in size, strength and ability.

So when you consider how much variability there is from one player to the next it makes sense that you will have just as much variability in your hockey programs for these players.

And so as a strength and conditioning coach I need to be aware of the needs of the various hockey players I work with in terms of their capacity to develop strength.

Because that is one of the key features being sought in the weight room is increased strength. The capacity to develop more strength lends to an increased capacity to develop a force more quickly. In other words a stronger hockey player has the potential to become a more powerful hockey player.

But is more strength always better? Is it possible to over do it in the weight room? At what point do you make the call on continued strength gains. I believe it depends on a number of factors. So below are the Top  Reasons to Know When No More Strength is Needed.

Reason #1 – The Risks Outweigh the Benefits

Imagine if you had a hockey player who could back squat 405 lbs. Does it make sense to shoot for 410 or 415lbs? Maybe not.

As we have learned over the last few years the limiting factor in a back squat is just that, the back. We know this because if we switch to one leg we can perform multiple reps of 50% of our two legged 1 rep max.

In this case additinal loads are simply increased pressure on the spine and therefore outweigh the benefit of increasing the weight on the bar.

Reason #2 – The timing changes

In a previous post I wrote about mistakes with plyometrics. One of the examples was about stepping off a plyo box and jumping up again immediately. If the box is too high the hockey player may not have the leg strength to return the force reduced by his/her legs back into the ground to jump up. This would therefore be too much load.

In all lifts we as coaches should have an eye for what looks right in terms of the speed and quality of a movement. Once we see a movement where the speeds drops off considerably this should be a red flag that the load is too great.

Reason #3 – The recovery is relayed

If a hockey player lifts Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri the rest days and workouts are consistent on those days. An increase in load may impair the hockey player’s ability to recover between workouts. This will impair progress and increase the risk of injury in the weight room.

Every time I meet with a hockey player for a training session I will always ask how they feel? How did they sleep the night before? What was their pre-workout meal?

Because unless you know exactly how your hockey players are recovering between workouts and how they feel prior to training you have no sense as to whether increased loads on the bar are justified.

Reason #4 – Athleticism changes

With increased loads in training often comes increased body mass. For hockey players this may be a good thing. But whenever we talk of putting on body mass on one of our hockey players we want to know it results in two things:

i. increased horsepower

ii. maintenance of athleticism

The first condition means the extra muscle mass will add to the ability of the player to stop and go and move their bodies quickly. Extra biceps curls at the end of the workout may give them 17″ guns and tip the scales a pound or two more. But if their speed drops off then this was a bad idea.

Secondly we want to know the hockey player can still move optimally in all planes with increased body mass. If we ever detect a deterioration in their movement quality due to an increase in body mass we will know to address this and restore athleticism.

In a future post I’d like to address more of the acute variables related to strength gains on the weight room floor. How many total sets are necessary? What is the minimum volume needed to increase strength? Are there any areas in our programming that perhaps we are over doing it and could cut back slightly and still make positive gains? Stay tuned for these answers.


2 Responses to “Top 4 Reasons When No More Hockey Strength is Needed”

  • Conor says:

    Hey, I like the post. Very informative! I’ve been reading recently Eric Cressey’s Ultimate Offseason Training Manual, and he talks about testing methods to determine whether an athlete needs to focus on strength because he/she is very elastic in their movement or if they’re slow in their movements, to work more on the reactive side of the continuum. Great stuff again.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment Conor. You’re wise to read Cressey’s stuff.

      Onside Hockey Training

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