Posts Tagged ‘body position’

Hi there: I just got back from California where I was able to meet up with a notable NHL strength and conditioning coach. It’s always good to check in with what’s going on at the NHL level for a number of reasons. First it allows you see other ways of doing things to accomplish a common goal. Secondly it affirms what you are doing if it is similar to what you already use on a day in day out process. Lastly it provides the opportunity to talk shop with a colleague. You’re able to bounce ideas off each other. You can pick each other’s brains about a certain question or topic. And you get a chance to rant as well with someone who understands the constraints, demands and challenges of one of the most rewards careers there is. But enough about my trip down south. On to the article.

You can usually tell a lot about what a player needs to work on by watching them play. And more importantly you can tell more precisely about what a player needs to work on later in a game, specifically in the third period or over-time. Here’s why.

When we are fresh and energized we are more capable of doing everything right and minimizing our mistakes. Picture the first few minutes of a playoff game between heated rivals. The tempo is quick, the pace is fast, the hits are intense and the play is exciting. Contrast this with the latter part of the game and everything slows down a little bit. Picture an NHL hockey game that goes to multiple over-time periods and the play is definitely slower and sometimes can get a little sloppy. Teams know to throw everything on net to take advantage of this deterioration in play.

A colleague once taught that there are four levels of learning. The first is unconscious incompetence. This basically means we don’t know we are doing the wrong thing. But then a coach enlightens us as to our mistake. Now we are consciously incompetent. We know are making a mistake but don’t know how to fix it. So now the coach spends some time using a variety of drills to teach us the correct way. And under controlled situations and focused attention we can perform properly. Lastly with enough practice and time we can develop the athletic abilities that become automatic for us. They happen almost as a reflex. This is known as unconscious competence.

Except for the truly great ones most athletes operate somewhere between conscious and unconscious competence. When their focus is broken or they fatigue they will falter and mess up. The great ones thrive under pressure, don’t get rattled when the stakes are high and continue to perform even under the bighest circumstances and fatigue.

Recently while taking a game featuring one of the athletes we coach I noticed his body position change toward the end of the game. As this player fatigued I noticed the upper body bent more forward. Was this the result of tight hips? Or maybe from a weak posterior chain that isn’t stabilizing the upper torso as it should. Hard to say for sure but it definitely something I made a note of and we will be sure to assess and address this off-season training.

There’s a lot of info you can get from watching a game. You can assess the fitness level of the player. You can see how they compete. You can see how they relate to both teammates, opponents, coaches  and officials. You can gather a ton of info that will help you do a better job helping that player with their off-season hockey training program. But you get the best and most accurate info towards the end of the game when the pressure and fatigue are highest.