Posts Tagged ‘consistency’

With everything in life there’s so much value to the wisdom and experience we gain along the way.  And sometimes it makes you wonder how much different your performance might be had you had this knowledge earlier in your playing career.

Think about it.
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 Where does Chris Chelios rank among all-time defensemen?

For many hockey players off-season training is just getting going. Some may still be competing in the NHL playoffs or maybe in the World championships but for most the season is over and it’s time to get to work preparing for next season. Today I was running some conditioning drills with one of our returning NHL players. This player is a young guy who has really come into his own the last few years. And I want to share with you some of the insights he has gained as well as some of the things we are going to work on this off-season.

One of the things I have heard mentioned in hockey as well as other sports is how the veteran players really take care of themselves. They spend more time learning about what will make a difference in their performance and then look to apply this to their preparation. This might involve off-season training, nutritional plans, in-season soft-tissue work, mental strategies and many other things that will give them an advantage over their opponent. One of the things these veteran players realize is the importance of staying in shape year round.

Sometimes the young guys can rely too much on their talent and athleticism to allow them to compete. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but at a certain point they need to realize that to be the best their needs to be a combination of talent and hard work. If you don’t have the basic skill set you won’t get noticed on draft day or signed later as a free agent. But to stick with a club and make an impact you need to be willing to put in the hard work.

It is the ability plus the hard work for a consistent period of time that develops character. Love him or hate him Chris Chelios didn’t play well into his 40′s because he was the most talented guy out there. He was definitely good enough but also had a reputation for consistent training during the off-season. And it was this consistency of effort, plus the required skill set, that allowed him to have such a long career in the NHL.

And that’s a lesson the younger guys in the NHL would be wise to take note. Look to the greats in the game right now and see what it is they do, year round. Notice how they don’t let themselves get too out of shape during the off-season. Learn from the attention they give their bodies to allow them to recovery more quickly and completely. See what it is they are doing nutritionally to improve the fuel they put into their bodies.

Because the reality is even the absolute best in the game will take a number of years to earn a chance to sip from the cup. And many will be great enough but never get that chance based on how difficult it really is.

So the key then becomes to have as much longevity as possible to increase the chances of claiming the ultimate prize. For if you start early and put in consistent hard work you will develop the character that pays off this time off year. Or at least you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you put it all out there and have no regrets.

In the next post I’ll share some of the goals we have identified for this off-season and how they will pay dividends next year.


sleeping athlete

As the first round of the playoffs wraps up the match-ups for round two are being set. Having eliminated the Kings in 6 the Canucks now look forward to a rematch of last year’s playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. But rather than look ahead to the next round I want to take a step back and look at something from the previous series.

After game 4 in LA, which the Canucks won 6-4, Vancouver took the unusual decision of over-nighting in LA after the game. This might seem as unusual for some as game 5 would be back in Vancouver. Wouldn’t the Canucks want to get home as soon as possible for their next game? Wouldn’t they feel more comfortable in their own beds? Don’t teams normally fly out right after away games? The answer to all of the these is probably yes. Or at least it used to be.

For the past couple of years the Canucks have been consulting a sleep doctor and they base their travel and accomodation schedule on his recommendations.  So as  a result, the Canucks opted to stay Wednesday in LA and fly back to Vancouver Thursday. Here are some of the possible reasons why.

A typical west coast game starts at 7 pm PST and goes at least until 930 pm PST unless there’s overtime. Once obligatory post-game media interviews, showers and post-game business are completed it’s probably closer to 11 PM. Even flying from a private terminal without the same security, line-ups and delays of commercial air travel probably means an arrival into Vancouver no earlier than 2 am and bed time closer to 3 am. Once there is disrupted and incomplete sleep we start to see the following repercussions.

When we are sleep deprived we will have delayed response times. Quick reflexes and responses is such a key to winning face-offs, to beating an opponent to the puck and for Luongo to make an opportune save. Take away somebody’s sleep and they don’t make the same, quick plays as they would if well rested.

Sleep is when we recover. And the playoffs can be a very taxing time of year, both physically and mentally. If the demands are that high and the need for recovery is that great than you wouldn’t want to minimize your team’s ability to be fully recovered for the next game by restricting their sleep.

There is also a strong correlation between various hormones in the body and the amount of sleep we get. When we are sleep deprived we notice that the messages that tell us when we are hungry and full are out of whack. So we feel hungry sooner than we should and we feel full later than we should causing us to over eat. Add to this that the stress hormone cortisol is elevated with sleep deprivation whereas testosterone and growth hormone are lowered and we can quickly see how important missing a few hours of sleep can be on our hormonal status.

Lastly, if there’s one thing hockey players like it’s consistency. It’s beyond ritualistic and to the point of superstitious. They have a particular pre-game meal. The get dressed the same way with the same lucky socks. They are lead out for warm-up by the same player every game. The list goes on. In keep with these traditions and rituals it make sense for teams to want to establish the same consistency with respect to the rest and recovery schedules of their players.

Obviously there is huge merit to ensuring a hockey player is well rested and fully recovered prior to each game. The same applies to your off-season hockey training as well. Ensure that you get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night and strive for the consistency of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. While you may not be competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup you can steal a page out of the Canucks program and apply it to your own hockey training.