Posts Tagged ‘training programs’

In the last post I talked about how more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to performing conditioning workouts during the off-season. To continue with this series we’ll look at the how the type of surface factors into your off-season conditioning program.

As a hockey player imagines performing an off-season conditioning workout what type of workout comes to mind? Do you envision riding the bike? Is it running at the track? Or maybe it’s doing drills on a soccer field? What about getting some on ice sessions? Is there anything else you do to develop your energy systems and improve your fitness for hockey?

With each of the options listed above there is a different surface from grass, to track to ice. And you know from a previous post I’ve also mentioned the possibility of running sand dunes. So is one surface better than the other? Does it matter which surface you train on? And what about the order of surfaces used, does that matter?

When we structure our off-season training programs we want to consider certain factors. These include the health of the hockey player, the rate of response when the foot contacts the ground as well as the specificity of the movement. When we consider these factors we then have some rationale as to the type of training surface.

The health of the athlete is an important consideration when selecting the training surface. If an athlete has a lower body injury they are rehabilitating at the beginning of the off-season we may not want to do a lot of high impact conditioning. In fact we may want to minimize loading through the vulnerable joint and put the athlete in the pool.  Being in the water takes much of the load off the body yet still allows for some non-specific conditioning. As the athlete rehabs to 100% they progress from loading in the pool, to riding the bike, eventually running in sand, grass and then the track.  Each of these surfaces add progressively more loading to the joint in question.

In terms of the rate of response when the foot contacts the ground we want this to increase over the course of the off-season. What this means is as the hockey player moves through the various phases of their training we want the rate of contraction to increase.  In other words the foot speed should increase through this continuum.

When we consider the previous example of pool, sand, grass and track the surface is firmer in each condition. While the bottom of the pool is the hardest the surrounding water provides support as well as resistance to slow down the foot speed. If you visualize someone performing tuck jumps in each of these conditions you can see how the ground contact time is lessened in each and the foot speed thus increases.

Lastly we must consider the speficifity of training.  Early with the off-season training program the training may be quite general.  There may some time spent correcting compensatory movement patters.  While these drills may look nothing like what a hockey player needs to be doing during their off-season training they are vitally important.  Compare this to the ice sessions many players try and schedule towards the end of their off-season training program and you can see how the training becomes very specific.

With this in mind the surfaces selected should also progress from general to specific.  The continuum in this regard would be water, to bike to land to ice.  With aquatic training the hockey player doesn’t have to support their body weight if swimming or standing in deep water.  On the bike, again there are not the same ground reaction forces that are developed when striding on solid ground.  And lastly the progression to skating on ice loads the hockey player very specifically and allows development of the skating stride.

Whatever you select for your off-season conditioning drills for hockey keep the above points in mind so that you make the healthiest, most effective and specific choice possible.