I’ve had the chance to grow-up through many generations of training approaches, and it’s amazing how things have changed over my 50-ish years as both an athlete and a coach.
I’m actually shaking my head at the atmosphere and thinking that dominated my youth — mainly through the 1950′s and 1960′s. Back then it was believed that work with weights would slow a skilled athlete. (Ha!)
Even years later — when elite athletes began seriously training for strength during their off-seasons, a prevailing belief was that the weights should be abandoned as athletes played and practiced during their regular seasons. Ya, that was the case until some studies were done (within the NFL, I believe) that showed most players “de-trained” or lost body strength during their playing seasons.
With that, most pro sports teams (and other elite athletes) have shifted to “maintenance programs”, or programs aimed at maintaining strength levels over the course of a long regular season.
Then, I love the point Scott Umberger makes below, in that an in-season program will help an athlete take-off from a much higher level once he or she ends the season and heads into the off-season. So, have a read, ’cause I have a sense this is going to put you far ahead of what most other amateur hockey players know.
– Dennis Chighisola
In-season Hockey Strength Training
Umberger Performance LLC
So you have busted your butt to get into shape for camp. You were “jacked” and strong when the season started and you end the season smooth and all sucked out. Maintaining your strength levels are vital to your post season training as well. If your strength levels are down it will take 4-6 weeks to get ready to train hard. If you are “familiar with the bar” by having trained all season, that time can be cut in half.
Here are my thoughts on keeping your weight up and trying to maintain your strength levels throughout the season:
- At minimum you must continue to squat, press (bench, dumbbells, etc), and clean or snatch. I prefer box squatting closer to games (2-3 days before a game) over back squatting, due to the potential soreness from squatting.
- Keep reps on the lower end with these lifts. I’ve slowly dropped the hang clean and squatting reps for my hockey players. We are performing around 5-6 sets for 2-3 reps depending on their game schedules. This will eventually drop to single reps.
- If you feel great on an off week you can go over 75-80% of your pre season maxes. Don’t go crazy here, you aren’t maxing out. I’m simply saying that if you have on off week and you feel great, it’s ok to go a little heavier.
- Don’t start incorporating new exercises that you haven’t done in a while and get out of control with them. If you haven’t lunged in a while, take it easy on the weight and volume (sets and reps) for the first week. The new movement alone will get you sore and you don’t want to be to sore during the season.
- Always perform a dynamic warm up before practices and games. These warm ups really help keep the body working like it should. Let’s face it, skating isn’t a natural movement.
- Make sure that you continue to perform assistance or accessory exercises that maintain wrist/grip strength, ankle mobility and strength, hip mobility, and shoulder mobility and stability.
- Buy and use a foam roller.
This insert is courtesy of Dennis. Scott and I knew you might not be all that familiar with the foam roller, so I found a few videos on YouTube that should prove helpful…
Although Scott and I can’t necessarily endorse a given foam roller, Scott prefers the shorter one over the longer, because he feels it easily fits into your hockey bag for weekend tournaments, etc. Anyway, Dennis has done a little of the work for you… The image on the left (below) is linked to a popular model, while the image on the right takes you to the results I received from a Google search. (Neither Scott or I have any commercial interest in a certain roller brand, and we even suggest you comparison shop after looking at these)…
- Do workouts to recover from long weekends. My guys hate life when they walk into Umberger Performance after playing 4-5 games at a weekend showcase. After a complete dynamic warm up they feel a little better. I’ll have them perform a few sets of a barbell complex and they’ll feel much better and on the road to recovery. A barbell complex can be many things…. A typical complex can be a dead lift, Romanian dead lift, push ups on the bar, bent over row, push press, and back/front squat. You can also add some Olympic movements if you prefer. Perform all of the movements until you have gone through every exercise. Perform 5-10 reps for 2-5 sets in a workout. They are tough but they won’t kill you.
- Don’t forget to eat the right food at the right time. Post practice and post game meals are very, very important. Shakes are a great and convenient way to maintain vital nutrients and calories during the long hockey season.
I know the season is long and it’s very hard to stay on top of the things that I’ve just outlined. If you can stay disciplined and maintain a training and eating schedule you will finish the season the strongest and healthiest that you have ever been. Remember that players get “paid” for consistency. Point a game is great production in any league. However, it’s hard to be consistent if you loose 70% of your strength and 10 pounds over the course of the season.
Good luck and shoot me an email if you have any questions,
Umberger Performance LLC
Be a friend: EVERY worthwhile Comment really helps us!
I was psyched to receive the following article — about hockey warm-ups, and I was even more excited to see the awesome videos Maryse Senecal produced for us!
To be perfectly honest, though — and as much as I learned from the following, I ended-up having a ton of questions (let’s face it, a lot of this stuff is quite different from what most of us coaches have been doing). And my guess is that a lot members will similarly want to know more. That pretty surely being the case, please see my note at the end once you’ve gotten a grasp of what Maryse is showing us.
– Dennis Chighisola
(A Different Kind of) Hockey Warm-ups
By Maryse Senecal
As an orthotherapist, I see many athletic injuries. A few weeks ago, I received a 13 year old athlete in my clinic. She had sprained her lumbar spinal region during the pre-game warm up. (During a warm up?) As I treated her with heat, massage and mobilisations, I asked the questions:
How do you warm up?
How much time is allotted for warm up?
What is the warm up routine?
True to all thirteen year olds, the answers were vague. So I decided to go see for myself. I should have stayed home, because what I saw made my skin crawl. I strongly believe that the coaches who take on that position at that level should be commended for their dedication and their time. Without them, we wouldn’t have organized sports, and let’s face it, it’s all volunteer work. What amazes me is that there is very little training for these coaches. One weekend certification program is all they get. They love the game, they love the kids, but.. They only know what they know.
I decided there and then to give of my time and expertise to the local hockey and ringette associations to help their coaches build stronger programs for their young athletes, keeping in mind the therapeutic limitations to training young bodies. These athletes are still growing, we are dealing with loose ligaments to support the joints and uncalcified epiphesial plates (growth plates).
Click on a thumbnail image to see the video.
Here’s what I suggested to them:
1 – Activation
Always start the warm up with activation. It doesn’t have to be long or too hard, just a few laps around the arena or the parking lot, or jumping jacks for example, a few slow lunges –- get the heart rate elevated and ready for work.
2 – Body Connection
This is by far the most important aspect when coaching children. Remember that these young bodies change almost weekly. Their arms and legs get ganglier, the joints get looser, then they tighten up to start over again. It may seem a little odd, the kids lose perspective of their bio-mechanics. Sure, the big stuff is easy, like walking or running. But those internal stabilizers that guide and protect the skeletal mass get off kilter.
I suggest a stretch yoga style. I know, I’ve researched the arguments, we shouldn’t stretch before the game, it takes away from the performance. I agree! I wouldn’t suggest just a slow deep stretch; that just serves to calm the body. What I prefer to see are activated yoga poses:
- a) the warrior – hold the position, let gravity take over to deepen that lunge, activating the hip…
- b) the triangle – this will help warm up the torso…
- c) upward and downward dog – connects core strength and engages the body as a whole…
- d) here, all the exercises are shown strung together…
Remember that the athletes will reactivate strongly once on the ice. This is a great time to talk the athletes through a little focus time. Without realizing it, they start to connect with their body, engaging the muscle chains in synergy. As the body prepares for the upcoming work-play load, the excitement will slowly build with focus.
So I was asked: What about the adults who play the game? It’s all the same! It works for all athletes. The reason I have targeted the young is because they are at risk of injury due to their continuous growth.
Work hard, play hard, prepare your athletes by being prepared!
I hope you found that all as interesting as I did. But then again, those questions…
Yes, I must have emailed Maryse about 5 or 6 times as I was preparing to post this to our site. Finally (despite my thinking I was the Head Coach here), she thought we ought to carry-on our discussion in the Comments section “… so members get to see those questions and answers!”
Okay, so — besides being a great personality in front of the camera, Maryse is a pretty smart lady. And we’re going to do just as she has suggested. Just drink-in what you can from the above, watch for our exchange over coming days, and be sure to join-in with us!
– Dennis Chighisola
A new section debuts in late-October of 2009, this aimed at advising members on the very latest known about stretching and warming-up in preparation for hockey practices and games.