Posts Tagged ‘off-season training’

Is your work work misdirected?

What are your plans for hockey this fall? Are you looking to move on to another level? Do you have aspirations to make a new team? Read the rest of this entry »

Probably one of the worst things about sports is being injured.

This is probably even worse than losing. Because at least when you lose you had a chance to win and were able to compete.

But when you’re injured you feel useless. You can’t help your team. And you get frustrated from sitting on the sidelines.

One of the more common injuries in hockey is the ones of the groin and abdominals.

Below is a brief review of a 1999 study by Emery et al at the University of Calgary. Here’s what we learned from this study.

This study involved over 7000 NHL players and lasted over 6 years. They defined injuries as being related to the abdominals, hip flexors and hip adductors.

Here’s what they found

There were lots of injuries
617 groin and abdominal sprains were reported over 6 seasons of play. In other words there were over 100 per season around the league. This averages out to almost 4 sprains per team.

This isn’t a freak accident. Or something that is as likely as one of the Sedins dropping the gloves. These types of injuries are quite frequent and should be something is addressed in your off-season training to prep your groins, hips and abdominals to withstand the forces from the game of hockey which if unaddressed lead to these kids of injuries.

Being out-of-shape increased the chance of injury
The injury rate in the pre-season was 5X greater than during the regular season and 20X greater than during the post-season.

Show up to camp out of shape and you are way more likely to be in the IR. Or if you’re a player trying to make the opening day roster you can’t afford to come to camp with less than optimal fitness.

And what about the correlation to the playoffs? Usually the fitter, better prepared players are the ones still playing in May. When was the last time you heard of a groin strain during the NHL playoffs?

More injuries happen during games
There was a 6X greater chance of getting injured during a game than during a practice.

Besides the hitting, one of the key differences of a game is the intensity and chaotic nature of the play.

Sure a practice can be up tempo but it doesn’t compare to the speed and intensity of a game.

As well, there is a certain level of control in a practice. Maybe you work on your PK or PP. There might be some hard skating at the end. Or you work on your breakouts. With all of these you know what is happening and it is controlled to a certain extent unlike a game where anything can happen.

Recovery may not have been complete
Almost 1/4 of the injuries were recurrent.

Teams lose money when players are the IR. Star players anyways. So sometimes there is the urge to get them back sooner than they should.

And players get bored of rehab and missing games. So they may claim to feel better than they actually are.

It wasn’t from getting hit
A high percentage (more than 90%) of the injuries were non-contact.

How you get injured if you’re not getting injured? Usually this happens during the eccentric (stretch) phase of a contraction.

Think of all the stop and go that happens during a game.

Each time this happens your body must eccentrically reduce this force before it can concentrically contract the relevant muscles.

If you haven’t taken the time to develop your eccentric strength and your stabilizers your body will find an alternate way to get the job done. And unfortunately this will be at the expense of your hips and abdominals.

So what’s the take home message?

Don’t wait until just before training camp to develop energy systems. Now is the time to start.

If you do get injured make sure to take your rehab as seriously you would a game.

And with your training make sure to develop the movement patterns and core stability that allow you to control your eccentric muscle actions.

Need a solution right now? 

The Premier Hockey Training Program is designed with these goals, and then some, in mind.

It addresses all the relevant energy systems needed for hockey.

It includes a variety of exercises, with videos, that target the hips and abdominals specifically.

And it ensures you develop incredible eccentric strength to make sure your stops, starts and change of direction as quick as possible.

I want you to have the most statistically impressive season ever. But in terms of your play and not for games on the IR and in rehab.

Grab your copy of today!


Before I get to the training tip today I’ve got ask if you think Chicago can close it out? So far it’s been a home team series. No games have been won on the road. With Chicago being so close can they finish off the Flyers? Or can Philadelphia find a way to come back at home and even up the series? Hard to say. Should be a  great game though.

One other quick aside. Congrats to the Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska on being name an assistant for the Canadian World Junior team. Well done coach.

Core training is a fundamental part of off-season training for hockey. How we going about training our core will be vastly different for a number of players. Some will use planks and bridges while others believe crunches are the way to go. Regardless of what types of exercises and equipment you use it is important to follow a particular progression when training the core. The progression involves core stabilization and core strength. Here’s a little more on each of these.

Think of core stabilization as being able to keep the torso motionless while the limbs are in motion. Core strength on the other hand involves movement through the torso, specifically at the hips and thoracic spine. And it is important to train them in this order.

Once we have achieved a stable core we can progress to strengthening the core. Doing so prior may result in energy leaks and potential injury. Below are a few tips to keep in mind to establish proper posture and thus set your core during training.

The first tip is to establish a neutral spine. At the low back there should a slight arch. Increasing this arch results in lordosis where decreasing this arch results in a kyphotic posture.

Pay attention to what the head is doing. There is something called an ocular reflex of the pelvis and head.  As the head looks down at the toes the pelvis tilts up. And as the head looks up the pelvis tilts down. Test this out by placing your fingers in the small of the back. As you move the head from looking down to looking up you should feel the muscles in the low back relax.

Know how to control your pelvis. To tell someone they have an anterior pelvic tilt may mean nothing to them. Or telling them they  have a posterior pelvic tilt may be equally useless information.

But there is a way to quickly realign pelvic control issues. If you imagine your body chopped off at the torso all you’d have left would be hips and legs.  Imagine as well that your hip and torso are like a bowl of cereal with milk. If the low back has excessive lumbar arch you will be spilling milk and cereal out of the front of the bowl. And if you lack arch in the low back and have a flat back you will spill out of the back of the bowl. Your goal is no spills.

When you stand upright your belt line should be parallel with the ground. As you perform a core drill such as a prone (face down) plank this position of the belt should not change. For most people the low back will over arch (lordosis) and they will spill out of the front of the bowl.

One of the biggest factors influencing your core is your posture. Ensure you have proper posture to begin with before you initiate training of any type. As you proceed with your training pay attention to what happens to your pelvis. Make the necessary adjustments to maintain a neutral position and rest when optimal form can no longer be maintained.

Look to incorporate these core training tips into your hockey training and let me know what you think.


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.


 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.