Are you getting the biggest bang for your buck this summer?
Posted by Dean Holden at June 29th, 2013
By Jack Blatherwick, 6 June 2013
“Train SMART, not just HARD.” – Herb Brooks
You have one life. Do not spend valuable time and energy on a training regimen that may not bring the results you’re looking for. Not all training programs are the same, and I offer three principles to see if you’re on the right track.
1. Age Specificity: Your workouts will probably look much different than those of a pro or college player. Training to play at a higher level (developmental training) is vastly different than maintaining strength and endurance, which is the goal for most NHL players. Therefore, ask NOT how they train this summer. Ask what they did when they were young.
What other sports did they play? Did they develop skill and rink sense playing unstructured pond hockey? Did they sprint and jump a lot, because these are basic off-ice training movements for hockey athleticism?
2. Movement Specificity: In constructive (layman’s) terms, specificity means: The more your training looks and feels like the desired outcome, the better chance it will help you improve.
Strength is just one piece of the puzzle, but consider this quote from a leading expert: “All forms of strength training are different and produce significantly different effects on neuromuscular performance.” (Siff, MC. Strength and Power Training, in Biomechanics in Sport, Vol IX. International Olympic Committee, Blackwell Science Ltd, London, 2000, p.106).
Substantial research has shown that specificity includes: (a) Range of motion; (b) Speed of motion; (c) Amount of effort or force needed to accomplish the movement; and (d) Endurance or metabolic requirements (energy for ongoing quality repetitions).
If someone were to visit your workouts, they should be able to see within minutes that you are training to improve skating and develop quickness, agility and speed.
For example, hip abduction (thrusting to the side) is just as important for skating as hip extension is for sprinting (thrusting straight back). Abduction is the major source of skating power from the hips (not extension); yet it is missing or diminished in most weight programs. Squats are called a “general strength exercise,” and they are excellent for strengthening large groups of muscles, but the range of motion does not fit skating. Squats feature hip extension, not abduction, so this is where you must fill the void with explosive movements requiring abduction. Many strength coaches have not studied skating enough to recognize this critical difference between sprinting and skating, so as a skater, you must inform them.
Another difference to consider: When heavy weight is added to squats, they are done at a slow speed, and feature deceleration in the last half of the range of motion, precisely when the skating stride requires acceleration. Therefore, to take advantage of specificity, or to train your body to accelerate quickly, you must add many exercises (jumps and sprints) that feature acceleration of your body throughout the complete range of motion.
This past week, it was obvious watching the world’s top 100 18-year-old prospects at the NHL Combine that a majority of them have trained for strength and muscle mass in their legs, but they were not able to accelerate their body effectively in the jump tests. Jumping and sprinting are highly related to skating acceleration, but no one has found a test of slow, heavy strength that is. This does not mean you should exclude strength training, of course, but you must add many exercises in which you accelerate your own body weight.
3) To develop athleticism: train MOVEMENTS, not MUSCLES. The goal of every workout is to develop synergy among the muscles and nerves that create athletic movements. Therefore, ISOLATION of muscles (even core muscles) FAILS as a viable method to improve athleticism.
Your training must include lots of highly dynamic movements that feature speed, quickness, agility, coordination, strength and balance. These are the elements of athleticism that determine how far you’ll go in hockey.