Posts Tagged ‘hips’

Well our hockey players are entering the final phase of their off-season training program. Some of the guys playing in Europe this year have booked their flights and are heading overseas in the next couple of weeks. And the junior guys have about another month to go.

As this point in the training there should be certain changes that take place. Drills and exercises become more intense. Volume is scaled back at this time. And conditioning drills should become more specific such as starting out with low impact, more aerobic based activities such as riding the bike, progressing to land based shuttles and tempo runs, moving to slideboard work and eventually culminating with on-ice sessions.

These things shouldn’t be new to any hockey player working with a competent strength & conditioning coach. They should understand the concepts of periodization and how your training should change throughout the off-season.

But that doesn’t mean we do everything the same as any other strength coach would. And we also do other things other gyms and trainers don’t.

Here are a few things we do differently at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. where we train our hockey players in Kelowna. And many of these principles carry over to the programming in Premier Hockey Training.

The first thing we do differently is send our hockey players for a physiotherapy appointment before we dive into the training. Just as the absence of illness does not equal health so too the absence of pain does not mean optimal joint function. I’m always reminded of the study in the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine that found 70% of hockey players studied presented with abnormal hip and groin MRIs although they were asymptomatic.

And when you consider the tough nature of many players it’s not uncommon for them to downlown injuries and joint pain. This becomes even more problematic when nothing hurts or appears to be an issue.

So we make sure we send them for an assessment at the beginning of the off-season.

Another thing we do is arrange for weekly massage appointments. This allows for quicker and more complete recovery between training sessions. And it always helps to follow up with the therapist later to see what they discovered during the appointment that may go un-noticed during training.

The hockey player also learns which areas of their bodies are chronically tight and need extra attention at the start of the training session. When players show up for a training session they are always directed to grab a lacrosse ball, slip off their shoes and begin rolling out any trigger points they may have. Going hand in hand with this is rolling out with a foam roller.

One of the other unique things we do for our players is to get in contact with the team they plan to play for in the fall. Usually this involves an email or phone call to the team’s coach and strength and conditioning specialist. This does a number of things.

First it lets the team know the player is serious about the upcoming season. Secondly, it gives confidence to the team that this player is doing the right thing to prepare. Lastly it lets our team of coaches and trainers in Kelowna know what the expectations of the team will be for this player. And this last point cannot be understated.

Recently we had the coach of an NHL team want to see a particular score on an aerobic test for when this player would return in the fall. It didn’t matter that this test is not relevant to success in hockey. It didn’t matter than aerobic fitness may be less important than anerobic power. All that mattered was that this coach wanted to see success on this test and the success of our training program would be partly tied to this test. Had we not talked to this coach we would have not put the same emphasis on preparing for this test.

While some of these benefits are only available for the hockey players we work with in person we still apply the same methodology for all of our training programs. And the same offer of contacting a player’s team is available for all our hockey players, even the ones who follow our Premier Hockey Training program.

If you like to benefit from our training style and the benefits listed above give Premier Hockey Training a try. We can get on skype and figure out which teams and coaches you’d like me to talk to for you.




In the last post I opened the discussion on Turkish Get Ups.

And I played the Devil’s Advocate by asking if this simply wasn’t an exercise that in a year or two we’ll all be looking back on wondering what were we thinking.

But I don’t think so.

Instead I see this exercise as sticking around for a while when it comes to hockey training because it offers so many benefits to the development of the complete hockey player.

So with that in mind here are my Top 11 Reasons Hockey Players Should Do TGU.

Reason #1 – It Facilitates Shoulder Stability

Quick question…what’s one of the most common injuries a hockey player will suffer if they get hurt? If you’re talking about the whole body you’d have to think of the groin and hips. And if you think of the upper body this would have to be the shoulders.

In a game where the first part of the body to take the impact against the boards is often times the shoulder this makes sense. Add to this the fact you are dealing with the joint with the greatest range of motion but doesn’t have a hinge or socket to hold it in place and you’re asking for trouble.

By holding a kettlebell overhead you are developing the stability of this joint which helps minimize potential injury down the road.

Reason #2 – Increased Fat Loss

Do you remember the recent research article that examined which fitness and athletic parameters correlated most closely to performance in hockey?

If not, that’s ok.

One of these was how lean the player was. Lower levels of bodyfat equated to higher levels of performance.

The TGU is an excellent whole body exercise that works the upper and lower body, in all planes of motion while challenging the cardiovascular system. Athletes have realized heart rates in the 180s from as little as 3 reps of this exercise.

All of this metabolic disruption makes the TGU an excellent choice for fat loss.

Reason #3 – Full Body Exercise

Hockey isn’t a lower body game. Nor is it an upper body game.

It is a whole body game that requires strength, power and coordinated movement throughout the system.

The TGU is a great exercise because you can’t rely on only your upper or lower body to complete the exercise. As such you quickly learn and develop whole body strength to translate to on ice performance.

#4 – Excellent Core Development

We all know the benefits core training has on hockey performance.

But after that there are many choices.

What the TGU offers is a little bit of everything.

You need core stability and core strength. You need to be able to flex and rotate through the core through one part of the exercise while resisting flexion and rotation at another point.

You move through all planes, from your back to standing and can be modified to regress or progress the exercise as needed.

#5 – Excellent Neural Development

If you watch young kids play hockey you may notice that their eyes are on their feet when skating and on their stick when the pucks is theirs.

However watch the pros at the highest level and their eyes are anywhere but at their feet or stick. Instead they are looking at their teammates, an opening to shoot or where there is open ice. In other words they are able to perform complex coordinated movements without looking at the ground.

Turkish Get Ups are very similar in that they require you to look up at the kettlebell while you perform them.

While your arms and legs are moving in multiple planes and the body changes from a supine to a standing position the nervous system must learn to coordinate these movements in a similar way that a hockey player can take a pass off his skates and kick it to his all while looking ahead to see the play developing.

Stay tuned for Part II where I give you Reasons #6-11.


I haven’t caught much of the first few games of the Stanley Cup finals but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few opinions. Here’s one guy’s take on the first three games of the series. The first game was as good as it gets. Back and forth. Lots of lead changes and a one goal outcome. Not what any one expected I’m sure. The one thing that struck me in that game was when Leighton got pulled. From the couple of goals I saw the ‘Hawks scored on him it didn’t seem like he could be faulted. And the game wasn’t getting out of reach at that point either. So I’m not too sure what the thought process was there in yanking him but it was interesting.

The second thing that was interesting and got all the media going was Pronger collecting some souvenirs. At the end of game 1 and 2 Pronger skated down to the ‘Hawks end and grabbed the puck. A little unusual but really no big deal. It wasn’t like it was somebody’s 1st goal or a big OT winner. But Pronger being Pronger was probably just doing something to rile up the ‘Hawks and get them thinking about that. It probably didn’t do anything for either team but was kind of funny.

Lastly, what was with the ‘Hawks skating around after game 2 with their sticks in the air? I know it was to acknowledge their fans but this is usually reserved for a time when these fans won’t see the team again. Maybe the team has just been eliminated, has shaken hands and then does this. Or maybe they’ve just won game 6 of the finals at home and their last game of the season will be  on the road. This would be then the last chance to show some thanks to their fans. It almost seemed a little bit strange to do it after game 2. Were they suggesting a sweep and wouldn’t play in Chicago again this year?

Anyways, enough about the playoffs. Let me know how you feel and if you agree or disagree.

Today though I want to talk a little bit about what goes into designing an off-season training program for hockey. You see there are number of options hockey players take when they consider their training options. Maybe they hire someone to take care of all the details. Maybe their teams set them up with some type of a program. Or perhaps a friend has  a program of some type. I could go on. The point being there are endless options regarding what program to follow. Below are a couple of the key elements I always consider when putting together an off-season training program.

First of all the plan has to be based on results. If what we did last year worked we’ll probably continue doing it. But we don’t want to stop there. Instead what we do is try and examine from as many different levels if this decision is wise in terms of investment, efforts, potential risk, projected benefits and if any of these could be improved upon. A great example comes from a big time strength coach out of the states. He has advocated switching from traditional back squats to front squats and now to single leg squats. You see what he found was that the limit on 2 legs wasn’t leg strength but the back. And this isn’t what we want. So by switching from 2 to 1 legs on squatting he was able to overload the legs while at the same time diminish loading through the spine.

Another example of where we may tweak our programs is based on how we know the body to work. A few years ago during our outdoor training days we would use a scorpion movement as part of our warm-up. We felt this would activate the glutes and mobilize the hips. The problem was that the lumber spine is not meant to move a great deal. But performing the scorpion resulted in rotatatio through the lumbar, which we didn’t want to have. So what we’ve done since is remove this from our warm-ups and substitute in other drills to activate the glutes and mobilize the hips without compromising the integrity of the lumbar spine.

So as you proceed with your off-season training program ask yourself a few questions including:

What am I hoping to accomplish with this workout, drill, exercise, warm-up etc?  Is there a downside to proceeding the way I  have been previously?     Can I come up with an alternative workout, drill, exercise, warm-up that still accomplishes the desired goal without the associated downside?

Once you start thinking about your training in this way you will be more efficient in your time, safer with your efforts and realize greater performance gains in the end.

All the best.