Posts Tagged ‘hockey strength & conditioning’

When I was still in university the plan was to go to medical or dental school.

I took all the required classes, did the admissions tests and had interviewss at a few schools. And while some may be happy just to get an interview I was pretty bumbed that I didn’t get in.

So I changed my focus from a physician to a performance coach. And I knew there were a number of ways I could get started in the field.

One way would be to move to a major centre and work as an intern to gain experience before returning to the Okanagan valley and beginning my own operation. The other option would be to start in the Okanagan from day one and invest as much as I could afford to travelling to various conferences and to try to network with as many people as possible.

I went with option B and haven’t regretted it for a second.

I’ve been able to meet, network and learn from a number of top people in the business. And the interesting thing is the higher you go in a particular field the more humble and helpful people are.

Such is the case with Sean Skahan.

Sean is the s&c coach for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. Going back a number of years I contacted Sean with regards to connecting with him in Anaheim and being able to see what he was doing with the Ducks.

He was very accomodating and willing to share what was working to keep his players healthy and performing at their highest level.

Since then I’ve made it a habit to visit Sean about once a year. And if I don’t make it down to California we’ve been able to talk on the phone and online.

Last month we connected and grabbed a quick lunch. Over lunch I picked his brain on a number of topics related to hockey s&c. There is no real order to the questions just things that came up while we had something to eat.

So here are 11 questions I had for Sean.

1. When he is coaching a hockey player where are his eyes? Is there something specific he is looking for?

He said it depends on the exercise but he is always looking for something. Sometimes there is a particular focus on something you don’t want to see.

2. What things would all hockey players do well to develop with regards to theb ir strength & conditioning?

Sean wants his players to really develop their posterior chain strength. This includes the glutes, hamstrings and low back. It is also important to have good core strength and stability and posterior shoulder development. Lastly he encourages his players to work on their hip mobility.

3. Training is different from competition for a number of reasons. For example training typically emphasizes driving through the heels on ground-based movements whereas sports usually involve an athlete being on the balls of their feet. I asked Sean if there were any other features of his training style where training was unique from  competition?

He answered that some exercises may differ in the position at the start but both are ultimately trying to achieve the same end goal which is to maintain and develop athleticism. As an example Sean compared the hang clean and squat.

4. Next I asked Sean what has changed in his programming in the past year or so?

He said that they are doing fewer trunk flexion exercises such as crunches and reverse crunches. He has added in more Turkish get up variations and been more selective on prescribing hang cleans. Some players will have learned the Olympic lifts in college and have no problem handling them in the program. Others either have little to no experience with these lifts and may not handle them as well.

He still likes to front squat his hockey players and incorporates more single leg training due to low back issues associated with higher loads on two legs.

One other consideration unique to the Ducks is the amount of travel they have which makes coordinating training sessions on the road more of a challenege.

Stay tuned for the remainder of this interview with Sean Skahan, NHL s&c coach.