Posts Tagged ‘velocity’

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.


It is becoming more common to see hockey players realize the importance of power training for their sport. Traditionally, of the four major North American sports it was football teams that embraced the necessity of power training and incorporated this into their weight room workouts. Hockey players have more recently turned to addressing the need for power production. And when you think of this addition to the program it makes sense.

If you think about it what do all the ‘plays of the day’ have on the sports broadcasts? They usually involve a demonstration of power. In baseball this may be the game winning home run. Or in basketball it may be a slam dunk. Football and maybe hockey as well will involve a huge hit or explosive play. So unless Morgana the Kissing Bandit sneaks past security and plants a wet one on an unsuspecting pitcher, the play of the day usually involves a demonstration of power.

And so players look to increase their power. The start doing med ball throws, plyometrics and Olympic lifts. But unfortunately as with any tool unless the proper instructions are provided there may be poor habits developing or worse, injuries happening.

One of the most common mistakes I see with respect to power training involves the use of the Olympic lifts. Whether it be the clean or the snatch, or variations of either there are common mistakes occurring far too often. Here is a quick list of the Top 5 hockey power training mistakes.

Photos: China's Liao Hui wins Olympic Men's 69kg Weightlifting gold

Mistake #1 – The weight is being muscled up. Bodybuilding, as opposed to Olympic lifting, is about isolating muscles and focussing on the part doing the work. For example when performing a biceps curl a bodybuilder will focus on the weight in their hands and originate the movement proximally or close to the weight. With Olympic lifts we want to generate the force through the ground, or distally from our attachment to the weight. This ensures that the big muscles of the body are involved and pull the weight up.

Mistake #2 – The weight drifts out in front of the body. Power training involves moving a load as quickly as possible. The way to generate more power is to increase the load or the velocity or both. When performing an Olympic lift we want to ensure that the bar travels as close to the body as possible. If the bar drifts out in front of the body this increases the distance the bar must travel. Greater distance means greater time to travel that distance and thus less speed.

Mistake #3 – The catch phase involves a reverse curl. With this example I am referring to a clean. Upon receiving the bar the arms should rotate under the bar to allow the bar to complete its path at the top of the chest near the clavicle. Unfortunately, some hockey players complete the movement by performing a reverse biceps curl which causes the bar to drift out and away from the body. This replicates mistake #2.

Mistake #4 – The elbows bend. This is tied in with #1. Too often I see hockey players performing Olympic lifts and the elbows start to bend too soon. As a colleague was fond of saying ‘when the elbows bend, the power ends’. Here why.

Think back to high school physics. Never took physics? No problem. Newton’s third law tells us that for every force there is an equal and opposite force. So if I push my legs hard into the ground to perform a vertical jump the earth pushes back equally hard so that I can leave the ground.

Now consider if I’m trying to do a vertical jump but I start pulling a weight on the floor just before I can push my feet into the ground. When my elbows bend from beginning the pulling the bar upwards with my arms this creates an upward force on the bar. At the same time this creates an equal and opposite force at my feet.

So while I’m trying to drive my feet through the floor (not really, just a visualization technique) by pulling the bar too soon I am working against myself and driving my feet down. So this is why when the elbows bend, the power ends.

Mistake #5 – Using too much load too soon. The Olympic lifts are about developing a timing and a rhythm for the movement. It is about training the nervous system to fire quickly. Unfortunately, hockey players, sometimes under the misguidance of their trainers, are using too much load before they have mastered the movement. The hockey player begins to develop poor habits. They will do whatever it takes to get the bar from A –> B regardless of whether this involves the development of power or not. As was stated earlier, power is the product of force and speed of movement. As soon as technique is compromised, poor motor habits are ingrained, speed is limited and power production minimalized.

While power training is a vital component of the complete training program of a hockey player it is important that it be coached properly, that loads be appropriate and that progressions be introduced only once mastery has been demonstrated. If these conditions are not satisfied the hockey player who makes the above mistakes will not only not be getting more powerful but may actually be getting slower.