Posts Tagged ‘posture’

So what did you think of game 2?

I couldn’t believe that finish. So few goals allowed during the first 120 minutes and then an overtime winner in 11 seconds.

But that’s the great thing about the game of hockey. Things can change so quickly and anything on net in OT has a chance.

You have to wonder though if Thomas’s overly aggressive style cost the Bruins the game? Because whenever the Canucks are in the offensive zone it seems like Thomas is anywhere but in the blue paint.

It’s one thing to be challenging the shooters, cutting down angles and getting close to the man in front to minimize deflections on shots from the point.

But Thomas is well out on every shot. And he interferes with the Vancouver forwards who aren’t expecting the goalie to be a few feet outside the blue. They’re used to gliding across the top of the crease to provide a screen but not take an interference penalty.

And in OT it cost him.

At least that’s what I would argue.

By playing out so much he was able to lured wider than if he was deeper in his net.

Plus had he been a normal distance from the goal line there would be have been less chance that Chara would have pushed him away from his goal.

So what does this have to do with off-season training for hockey? What can you learn from Thomas on this play?

Well, you need to recognize where your ‘home’ is. And by home I mean your centre, your proper posture, your core or your base of support.

Your goal should be to perform all lifts and exercises as intensely and or as quickly as possibly with ideal technique.

What defines ‘ideal technique’?

Well lots of things but one in particular is a neutral spine. And this is more than simply trying to maintain a slight curve in your low back. Unfortunately for some hockey players they don’t even achieve this much as they lose pelvic and hip control during many of the movements done in the gym.

But back to neutral spine another way of thinking of this is to lengthen the spine. All the way from your tail bone through the top of your neck.

Your neck? Why do I have to worry about my neck? Aren’t we worrying about developing strong legs, explosive power and a stable core?  Who said anything about the neck?

These may be some common responses by hockey players when additional emphasis is placed upon ensuring the head is in a neutral position.

Because when we have a neutral head the spine is long, the spine is neutral, the core works better and we have better hip and pelvic alignment.

And when you think about the number of hip and pelvic injuries that are happening not too mention the increased incidence of concussions wouldn’t proper head and neck alignment be one of the first things to address?

We all know the brain is CPU for the body and reigns supreme. As you continue on with your off-season hockey training make sure to give your head and neck positioning an appropriate amount of care and consideration.

Because if you don’t you’ll deviate from neutral and come away from your base or your home. And then bad things happen such as injuries or getting scored on in OT.


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.


Hi there: I just got back from California where I was able to meet up with a notable NHL strength and conditioning coach. It’s always good to check in with what’s going on at the NHL level for a number of reasons. First it allows you see other ways of doing things to accomplish a common goal. Secondly it affirms what you are doing if it is similar to what you already use on a day in day out process. Lastly it provides the opportunity to talk shop with a colleague. You’re able to bounce ideas off each other. You can pick each other’s brains about a certain question or topic. And you get a chance to rant as well with someone who understands the constraints, demands and challenges of one of the most rewards careers there is. But enough about my trip down south. On to the article.

You can usually tell a lot about what a player needs to work on by watching them play. And more importantly you can tell more precisely about what a player needs to work on later in a game, specifically in the third period or over-time. Here’s why.

When we are fresh and energized we are more capable of doing everything right and minimizing our mistakes. Picture the first few minutes of a playoff game between heated rivals. The tempo is quick, the pace is fast, the hits are intense and the play is exciting. Contrast this with the latter part of the game and everything slows down a little bit. Picture an NHL hockey game that goes to multiple over-time periods and the play is definitely slower and sometimes can get a little sloppy. Teams know to throw everything on net to take advantage of this deterioration in play.

A colleague once taught that there are four levels of learning. The first is unconscious incompetence. This basically means we don’t know we are doing the wrong thing. But then a coach enlightens us as to our mistake. Now we are consciously incompetent. We know are making a mistake but don’t know how to fix it. So now the coach spends some time using a variety of drills to teach us the correct way. And under controlled situations and focused attention we can perform properly. Lastly with enough practice and time we can develop the athletic abilities that become automatic for us. They happen almost as a reflex. This is known as unconscious competence.

Except for the truly great ones most athletes operate somewhere between conscious and unconscious competence. When their focus is broken or they fatigue they will falter and mess up. The great ones thrive under pressure, don’t get rattled when the stakes are high and continue to perform even under the bighest circumstances and fatigue.

Recently while taking a game featuring one of the athletes we coach I noticed his body position change toward the end of the game. As this player fatigued I noticed the upper body bent more forward. Was this the result of tight hips? Or maybe from a weak posterior chain that isn’t stabilizing the upper torso as it should. Hard to say for sure but it definitely something I made a note of and we will be sure to assess and address this off-season training.

There’s a lot of info you can get from watching a game. You can assess the fitness level of the player. You can see how they compete. You can see how they relate to both teammates, opponents, coaches  and officials. You can gather a ton of info that will help you do a better job helping that player with their off-season hockey training program. But you get the best and most accurate info towards the end of the game when the pressure and fatigue are highest.