Posts Tagged ‘injuries’

In the previous post I introduced Part I of this article which talked about when injuries happen in the game of hockey. Sometimes there are contact injuries but we were more focused on the non-contact type of injuries that happen. This is because we hope to be able to prevent as many of the non-contact injuries as possible.
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It’s around this time of year that hockey seasons are beginning to wrap up. Playoffs are either over for some or still going for others. For the ones that didn’t make it to the playoffs or have already been eliminated the focus begins to shift to next season. They start thinking of what they want to accomplish the following year. For some of our players they will looking to make the jump to the next level. For some they will entering their final year at that level and want to have an impact year. And others have had a taste of playing at the highest level and want to continue to improve and contribute more. And for all of these players these goals start with the off-season.

The off-season is when the bulk of the work is done is preparing a hockey player to succeed. This is where previous injuries are addressed and fortified. This is the time when additional size is added for those players whose game would improve as a result.

*** A quick side note regarding gaining weight. Never look to gain weight just for the sake of being heavier. When we add mass to the frame of one of our hockey players it has to be functional weight. By that I mean weight that allows the player to continue to move optimally with no loss in speed or mobility. They are the same quality of athlete, they just weigh more.***

This is also the time when we look to increase the strength of the player and gradually translate that strength to increased power production.

But before you step foot in the weight room and begin addressing all of the items listed above it is important to do something else first. The first thing to do is communicate.

Talk to your coaches from the previous season and find out what they think you should work on. Find out what they think would benefit you the most. Ask them what they thought your strengths were so you continue to include these in your repertoire of skills.

In addition to your coaches talk to whomever will be overseeing your training. Ask them the same questions you asked your coaches. Ask them to help you set some goals. Ask them if they would get in contact with your coaches and fill them in on your plans for the summer. This shows initiative and let’s your coaches know you are serious about improving during the off-season.

Repeat this process of communication with as many of the people that will have a hand in your off-season development. This could included: physiotherapists, chiropractors, trainers, massage therapists, dietician’s, sports psychologists, medical doctor and anyone else who will work with you during the off-season and whose opinion you respect.

The more people you have in your corner the better. And from my perspective I feel confident knowing I am seeing the same things that are relevant to the other professionals involved. For example, if the massage therapist is detecting a tightness in the hip flexors this will help me to watch for this in the training and be able to prescribe drills which will address the issue.

As well, you can be more efficient in your training by focussing on the areas of commonality among all parties involved. If all the coaches are preaching the same message for areas to be addressed during the off-season then we can feel fairly comfortable in zeroing in these keys while not wasting time on elements which are not as relevant to your particular needs. As well there is less duplication of efforts.

Lastly, if one of the individuals in your camp notices something different than everyone than this is also important. These are referred to stastically as outliers and can be very beneficial if relevant. For example, consider that one practitioner sees something in your assessment that no one else picked up. This may be the key to ensuring you are that much more resilient to injury than if it was missed entirely.

So before you get too far into your off-season training spend some time to connect with everyone that is or will be working with you next season. Encourage all the relevant parties to communicate amongst each other. Coaches love to see this in their players, it allows for everyone to be on the same page and makes for an efficient off-season of training.


In the last post, Common hockey power training mistakes, I outlined 5 common mistakes hockey players will make when attempting increase their power through their weight room workouts. But simply because we adhere to the rules of this previous post doesn’t mean we are set to go with our training. The reason we aren’t quite ready is that there a continuum of training where we are working on developing different athletic abilities at different times.

When one season of play finishes it makes sense to take some time, relax and reflect on the previous season. At this time it’s important to reflect on how the season went. What worked and what didn’t? What areas need extra attention during the off-season? What injuries pose potential weak links left unaddressed? What would your coaches say you need to work on? If you are hoping to play up a level next year what areas of your game next to improve to make for a smooth transition? Answering the above questions allows the off-season training program to be specific and dialed in to your particular needs.

When you are ready to begin training you must realize that the body responds better when the training follows in a particular sequence. For example it makes sense to condition, to strengthen, to add power and finally to make the training sport-specific. And there’s a rationale to this sequence.

You see when you focus on conditioning first you can establish a good base for the rest of the training. As well, as you are trying to correct movement patterns or teach a technique you can get in number of repetitions to coach the movement which also serves as a conditioning stimulus.

From there to proceed to a strength goal is logical as a better conditioned muscular system has the potential to become a stronger muscular system. Think about it. If your fitness is poor this may be the weak link in your training as opposed to the resistance on the bar.

Next, a stronger muscular system has the potential to become a more powerful muscular system. Power is the product of force and velocity. Two ways to become faster are to move a heavier load or to move the same load faster. The stronger a hockey player is the more capacity there is to generate power.

Lastly, the most sport-specific an athlete can get is by practicing the sport itself. And the off-season training program winds down the hockey player is usually looking to get in some more ice sessions and quality scrimmages prior to training camp. As well, the drills in the weight become more intensive and powerful and agility sessions take on more of a chaotic and competitive nature.

This progressive and sequential approach to training is supported in the literature. A recent study coming out in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise tried to answer the question of what was important to an athlete’s muscular power, strength or power training? What they found was that strength training should be the emphasis, for less training athletes. They concluded that a distinct focus on power training would not be warranted until a threshold of strength had been achieved.

So although power plays, pun intended, in hockey often make the highlight reel it is important to follow the sequence of training described. This allows for further gains, helps prevent overtraining and transfers more effectively to hockey performance.


Every now and again I’ll take some time and check out what’s happening online related to hockey training. I like to check out my colleagues sites and see what’s happening. As well, as with any random internet search, you can stumble across some previously unknown sites out there. When I come across something new, to me anyways, I’m always critical of who’s providing the information. Here’s what I mean.

Does the person posting the information have an educational background as a strength and conditioning coach? Or maybe as an athletic trainer? Possibly a personal trainer? Maybe the background is in rehabilitation? While these are all honourable professions they all have slightly different areas of emphasis. If your goal is to improve your strength and fitness level as a hockey player than a strength and conditioning coach is the best choice.

The other benefit of working with a strength and conditioning coach is that this individual will possess a university degree. While having a few extra initials after your name can be impressive it’s not the key point. A university background shows a dedication to higher learning. It shows perserverance towards a goal. And it shows achievement. With a science degree it demonstrates that the individual understands the scientific method, has a critical mind and lets the research, rather than their opinions, guide them.

On one of these sites there was a article on creatine. Interested I clicked on the link to read further. The article basically told hockey players that creatine may be carcinogenic and therefore should be avoided. What? How irresponsible is that? They make reference to the fact that the a couple of NCAA schools have restrictions on the use of creatine as support for this claim. First of all, the author only mentions a couple of schools that adopted this policy. Secondly, creatine is not a banned substance by the NCAA.

If an NCAA school adopts a policy to restrict the use of perfectly legal supplements than that is their right. While I sometimes believe supplements can be over used there is a definite advantage with the use of certain supplements. I’ll usually evaluate a supplement based on the amount of research that exists, the purported benefits  as well as the potential side effects. If there are any questions regarding ethics or legalities of the supplement than it doesn’t even enter the the possibility of consideration. Safety has to be the first consideration then the benefits should be evaluated next.

The next thing I try and determine is whether the author has a background training athletes. Often times what we know to be true in the real world is followed by a  few years in the research. As well when you are working with hockey players on a day in day out process you get a better sense for the demands of the game. You understand what type of injuries occur more often. You understand how to work around these injuries. You understand the need to communicate with various other levels of the organization from coaches through management to achieve a common goal. And lastly, you have a better knowledge for what made a big difference in last year’s training, and therefore should still be included, and what training can be tweaked the following off-season.

The take home message here is to be very critical in terms of what resources you rely on with your internet searches. It takes nothing more than a url and some hosting to put content online. And for people who like to post on others sites or forums, not even that much. Before the electronic age it used to be that ‘if it was in print, it had to be true’. Really question and evaluate the information you are coming across related to hockey training on the internet. By doing so you will be in a much better position to weed through what is quality info and will help your game and what to avoid.


This past week the Kelowna Rockets held their annual awards night. This was an unusual year for the Rockets for a  number of reasons. First of all, they were missing some key players from last year. The Rockets said goodbye to Jamie Benn, Tyler Myers, Mikael Backlund and Cody Almond. All four of these players have since made the jump to the NHL. It’s probably not a record anyone keeps track of but I’m sure you’d be hard pressed to find another junior team that has four players go to the NHL their first year after junior. Add to this Colin Long, Ryley Grantham, Ian Duval, Tysen Dowzak and you had a total of eight players move on from last year.

With eight players moving on this meant lots of new faces in training camp and the opportunity for the returning players to step up and establish themselves as leaders. Tyson Barrie was one of these players to step up and was a key player for the Rockets this year not only by logging countless minutes but also with his point production. Barrie seemed to be a better job of picking his spots to attack this year and always seems to be in control of his emotions.

The other interesting feature of this year’s Rockets team was the number of injuries they faced.  It all began with Evan Bloodoff who suffered a knee injury at the 2009 Memorial Cup and wouldn’t play again until March 2010. Add to that returning 20 year old goalie Mark Guggenberger who started the year on the IR. From there it seemed as though every Rocket player took a turn being sidelined with injury.

But rather than focus on the players they were missing or how young they were the Rockets continued to develop. Getting top forward Brandon McMillan back from the world junior tournament and some time on the injured reserve definitely helped. And it definitely helps with the mindset that exists within this organization. There is no such thing as rebuilding. There are no excuses for injuries. There is no room for individual play. As graduating captain Lucas Bloodoff passed on to the returning players he urged them to know what their game is and to play as hard as possible within their game. By listening to his coaches over the years and through his own maturation process he has learned what his game is and has had success playing his role as well as possible.

One of the award winners Monday night was forward Mitchell Callahan. Callahan is a second year player out of Whittier, CA and a 3rd round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (2009). With winning the ‘Unsung Hero’ award Callahan also won a complete off-season training and nutritional package with Okanagan Peak Performance.

The Rockets have just opened their first round of the play-offs against the Everett Silvertips. The first game went 5-4 to Everett in overtime and sets the stage for a close, competitive and entertaining first round.