Questions as You Plan Your Off-Season Development
Posted by Dean Holden at August 22nd, 2015
by Jack Blatherwick, 19 March 2015
Sixty years ago, Soviet Coach Tarasov included skating-specific exercises using ABDUCTION from the hips, in this case jumps side-to-side.
Chip Kelly, coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and former coach of the University of Oregon Ducks, said this about every workout, even offseason strength training: “People should be able to come, observe you and in five minutes know what you stand for.”
Among other team qualities of character and focus, the Ducks’ priorities are SPEED and speed-endurance that is uncomfortable for their opponents. Kelly played college football and was also a hockey player through high school. He might ask, “If hockey is your passion, and someone watches you train for five minutes, do they see that your effort is making you a better hockey player?”
Do they see explosive athleticism and read-react decisions? Do you play dynamic, fast-moving sports like tennis, lacrosse, soccer or football? Sprinting in track is excellent for developing speed, but doesn’t have creative decisions like other sports. Baseball has many great athletic qualities, but you’ll need to add some extra sprints – not wind sprints for endurance, but short, all-out races with plenty of rest.
Are you shooting pucks and stickhandling off-ice? When you get on the ice, do you practice creativity? Are there plenty of chances to try things that might not be allowed by your winter coach? After all, winter hockey is becoming way too restrictive for development of playmaking skills, so take advantage of the summer.
Can an observer tell in each five-minute segment of your strength workout that speed and quickness are high priorities? Are you moving your body explosively, not just moving a barbell? Many programs are nothing but heavy, slow barbell movement, restricted to one plane and featuring deceleration in the last part of the lift – at precisely the moment you’d like to accelerate during your skating stride. Some of this is helpful for sure, but you also have to move your body explosively if you want to get quicker.
Are many of your exercises designed to make you a better skater? Does the range and speed of motion look and feel like skating? For example, abduction is thrusting to the side from the hips, and it is critical for skating power. Some weight rooms don’t include any explosive abduction. They feature extension at the hips – straight down or backwards, as if hockey players have toe picks like figure skaters.
Besides spending your time and energy wisely, make sure it’s fun, so you are passionate about improvement – even when it’s hard.