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Posts Tagged ‘head injuries’

 When I say ‘Model Success’ this isn’t what I mean.

We’re all familiar with the expression ‘to learn from our mistakes’.

And this sometimes encourages people to forge ahead before they have the best information. This can lead to wasted time and, obviously, mistakes.

A better option would be to model success.

With that in mind I have taken some time to sit with Sean Skahan who is the strength and conditioning coach for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. While under his coaching the Ducks have won a Stanley Cup and were represented by 8 players at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

I think it’s safe to say his programs generate success on the ice. So to model some of Sean’s success I asked him a number of questions about this training methodologies.

Read on to find out Sean’s answers and model his success.

5. What are some things you wished players did a little less?

Sean didn’t have too much to say here. I guess this is a testament to the fact that he has earned the respect of this players and they don’t veer too far away fro whar he wants them to do.

Earlier in his career there was the occasional challenge of hockey players doing too much cardio for their off-season training. This might take a variety of forms but basically came down to long, aerobic conditioning.

Another challenge from earlier on was to have hockey players head home for the summer and do their own thing. They may enlist the help of coach or trainier in their area but this individual had different ideas about what these players were going to work on.

6. With the recent increase in head injuries in the NHL are the Ducks doing any specific related to this?

Sean does include some neck specific work for his players but admitted that head injuries are a part of the game. If a player suffers any type of head injury here is a very strict protocol that is followed involving various levels of the team’s medical staff. He did make one interesting comment about neck training and head injuries and that was to say no amount of neck training is going to off-set an opponent’s speed.

7. Another question I had for Sean involed the level of intensity used during lifting movements. There is some debate as to how heavy a player should lift. Some coaches like their hockey players to leave it all on the weight room floor. Others want to see them approach a max but be just under it.

Sean’s take on this was the load was secondary to the form of the lift. He wants the last rep to be excellent, just like the first rep.

In this regard I see what he is saying. It would be worse for a hockey player to use a submaximal load with terrible form than to attempt a 1 RM with excellent form.

8. Next I picked Sean’s brain about shoulder development. This is another area where you will find varying opinions from coaches as to whether or not they overhead press their hockey players.

While he didn’t express a hard rule for overhead pressing he did stress the importance they place on posterior shoulder work. They spend some time doing face pulls and going through their YLTW patterns.

Stay tuned for Part III in this series where I pick an NHL s&c coach’s brain for your benefit.

Chris                                                                                                                                       okanaganpeakperformance.com

So what do you think about all the talk of head injuries in the media lately?

Are head injuries on the rise? Or are we simply getting better at diagnosing when someone has an injury? Or maybe as the salaries of the players keep getting bigger teams are realizing the need to protect their investment?

Case in point…

Reebok recently sponsored a conference on head injuries attended by the NHL, AHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. Reebok coincidentally has a $10 million endorsement deal with Crosby who’s been sidelined with an injury since January.

But besides the increased imaging technologies to detect head injuries and the monetary value of the contracts associated with the top tier hockey players why are we seeing more head injuries?

Part of it has to do with the speed of the game.

Right now old-time players around North America are flipping over in their rocking chairs as I make the claim the game is faster today than it has ever been.

Here’re 4 reasons why.

1. The players are bigger, stronger and can generate higher levels of force than they could a generation ago. A stronger player has the capacity to generate force in less time and thus is more powerful.

2. The tactical aspect of the game has changed. Think back to the time of Bobby Orr or even Paul Coffee. Players used to be able to wind up around their goal and then go all the way weaving through the opposition.

Now it’s more of a game of dump and chase. Or a long pass from the red line that is deflected into the opponent’s end in order to get in a chance. Or a shoot in on a powerful to control the perimeter and set up a scoring chance.

3. The energetics of the game have changed. Not so many years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a star player to be on the ice for one or two minute shifts. And this wasn’t because they were caught out there during a penalty kill. Instead this was the regular length of a shift.

Now how fast do you think you can go if you had to last for 2 minutes. 80%? 90%? Maybe 95%?

Whatever that top end time limit was it definitely wasn’t your 100% and meant going much less than your top speed. Compare this to today’s shifts where players are looking to head to the bench after 40 seconds. Can you see how a shorter shift lends itself to being able to go faster than a longer one?

4. The rules of the game have changed. Previous to the last collective bargaining agreement defencemen used to be able to clear opponents out from in front of the net. And players skating through the neutral zone would feel the tug on on their jersey or a slight hook of a stick to disrupt their timing.

Not anymore. All of the tricks that were previously used to slow up an opponent have been dealt with as a result of new rules for officials to call any attempts to impede the flow of the game.

So in the end you’ve got bigger, faster players that are using a dump and chase style of play where the refs are looking to ensure the speed of the game is not disrupted.

Is it any surprise head injuries are on the rise?

Especially when you consider one of the young stars of the game never uses a protective device that would help absorb much of the force of a head injury if he ever suffered one.

Unfortunately for these reasons head injuries are here to stay and will only increase in severity and number.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                onsidehockeytraining.com