Being a strength coach is not always the easiest job in the world.
We are not saving lives with the work we do, but we are usually trying to change public opinion.
Fitness is an area where anyone who has ever stepped foot in a gym feels as though they are an expert on training.
We are also still stuck on old school body building programs that are being used incorrectly.
More often than not, I am not someone’s first/only encounter with lifting weights or training. Getting that buy-in is key for getting the athletes to trust the methods.
Hockey is a realm where there is a lot of potential for athletes to take their performance to the next level.
Unlike sports such as football, not every head coach serves as strength coach and providing the team with his own workout from when he was in school.
The times have changed and so has lifting practices.
Hockey unfortunately is still stuck with misguided notions:
- Lifting will make them bulky, slow, and/or injured
- Riding the bike is more important than lifting weights
- Calf raises are a necessity in training
Despite having a little bit of fun with this, all of those points have come up many times.
At the end of the day, off ice training benefits on ice performance.
There are a few simple ways in which this is true that are important for hockey players.
Off Ice Training Benefits the Skating Stride
The skating stride requires a couple of working parts to increase efficiency and speed.
First and foremost we need to have the hip mobility to get into a good position. A good skating position requires the hips to be back, knee bent, and chest up on one leg.
If the hips are too tight and this position cannot be achieved, the skating stride will suffer. The result will be a tall starting position. The taller we skate, the less force we can put into the ice to propel ourselves forward.
If we can lower the position down, then we have more to push from.
Strength is also required to hold this position. Once we get into a good striding position, we have to hold it to allow the opposite leg to push.
Without adequate strength, we will get into a taller position, which is more advantageous for the muscles.
Strength is also essential for the leg that is pushing off. The stronger the legs are, the more force that can be produced. More force production means that we will skate faster by pushing into the ice.
Strength cannot be ignored because it is the driving force and foundation for skills to be built on.
Power, explosiveness, and other terms associated with sports all mean the same thing. Athletes seek out the ability to display strength quickly. This is power and the more powerful athletes are better athletes.
Athletes can strive to perfect the lateral lunge. This is a movement with direct transfer to hockey.
The positioning closely replicates the stride and builds strength in the pattern.
The Problem with Only Training on the Ice
Skating, shooting, and other aspects of hockey are skills. Skills must be trained.
There needs to be some kind of on-ice application when developing hockey players.
I just want to shed some light on what only training on the ice can do.
Think about young athletes in a power skating session. You can tell them to get lower, push harder, try harder and it might not click. They can be put into the good skating positions they need to be in and it might not work.
What other options do you have?
On-ice options are limited but off-ice training can help with this.
An off-ice program can work primarily on mobility and strength allowing the athletes to get into position, hold the position, and develop power out of the position.
Off-ice work is going to complement on-ice work in a good program.
The idea that lifting weights will make athletes big and slow is about as old as the programs that bring about such change.
The field has advanced tremendously and the athletes that are in sports performance programs are benefitting.
There is no need to be afraid of getting stronger and more mobile.
What we can be afraid of is what the consequences of not training are.