Posts Tagged ‘thoracic’

I just got back from a trip to Hawaii. My wife and I like to go at this time of year as it allows me to refresh before the busy summer begins and all the hockey players roll into town.

While I was away I did a lot of snorkelling.

And this got me thinking about hockey and training.


What does tropical weather, warm water and snorkelling have to do with hockey and training? It’s the breathing actually that makes me think of how this could improve training and performance.

If you’ve never tried snorkelling it may be a little un-nerving to have your nose inside the mask and then to only be able to breathe through the snorkel.

First timers may panic in this type of set up which leads to:

* increased respirations

* increased gasping

* increased thoracic breathing

* decreased diaphragmatic breathing

The list goes on.

To really enjoy snorkelling you need to relax. You need to slow your breathing down to a comfortable rate and then move. You need to relax your chest and shoulders and let your belly expand and contract as you breath diaphragmatically.

And being in water really facilitates this in one regard. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce tension on the upper body and arms and makes it easier to just  focus on belly breathing.

So how do we apply this your hockey training?

Well you don’t necessarily have to grab some fins and a snorkel but we do want to start with the basics. Below are four progressions you can try.

1. Supine

This would involve learning to breath from the diaphragm while on your back. Place one hand on your navel and one on your chest. Take 10 breaths making sure that your chest does not rise. As you inhale your stomach should rise and fall as you exhale.

2. Lateral

On your side put your fingers in your side just above the hips. Now as you inhale try and get lateral expansion of the abdominals. As in the supine position you want to minimize or control chest breathing.

3. Prone

Flip over to face down. Some will cross the arms and rest the head on the forehead. The goal now is to get the back side of the trunk to rise and fall. This is a little more difficult and we’ve found it easier to cue by placing a foam roller across the low back. This provides a physical cue of where to push against to get expansion.

4. Training

You don’t need to go straight from the ground to standing with all these drills. You can go from tall kneeling, to half kneeling and eventually to standing.

But the goal remains the same regarding of how you position your body. Neutral posture, breath properly and brace when necessary.

In the picture above, notice the elevated chest and shoulders. When we breath we want as much distance between the shoulders and the ears. In this picture it looks like his right shoulder is almost tough his ear.

Because as breathing breaks down in training or in hockey we see:

* changes in posture

* changes in technique and movement

And with just these two changes there are a couple of other side effects that accompany breakdowns in posture and improper technique. These side effects would be reduced performance and increased chance of injury.

I’ve always liked simple things which enhanced performance. And nothing is as simple or basic as breathing. But it has to be done properly. Give these drills a try to work on improving the quality of your breathing and ultimately your on ice play.





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.