Hockey players are often movement nightmares.
The ones that do not take care of themselves can easily display the mobility of the tin man.
I think that now, the athletes are making a shift toward actually caring a little bit about how they move. It’s almost as though they are fed up with being tight all of the time.
Some of the areas that hockey players end up being tight are in the hips and legs. The quads, glutes, low back and hip flexors are all usually shortened and tight. The groin is often tight and weak. The hamstrings are another story all together.
No part of the hip is safe in this regard.
Being able to open the hips up is really important for hockey players that want to skate well.
A good skating position requires one leg to bend at the knee and hip to support the weight of the body as the other leg pushes out. The other leg needs to have the mobility to fully extend to create a powerful stride.
Skating too tall means that each stride will be weaker and you will not be able to skate as fast. You will also have a higher center of gravity which makes it easier to be knocked off of the puck.
The best skaters are low to the ground and can put a lot of force into the ice.
Two ways that we can slow ourselves down when skating is through a lack of hip extension and inability to sit into a good position. Poor hip extension can be caused by tight hip flexors, groins, or glutes and poor abdominal control.
The inability to sit into a good position is also affected by hip mobility.
Note: There will be an article about core control and skating ability coming soon.
When we are training for hip mobility, one of the most important things to look for is a neutral spine. Rounding the back can create a false sense of hip mobility. More depth can be achieved by rounding the back but the range of motion is not in the hip.
Here are some good exercises for opening up the hips.
This is a simple exercise that is like a squat on all fours. Pushing the hips straight back helps to get the mobility ball rolling.
- Adductor or Groin Rockbacks
This variation on the above rockback targets the groin. A lot of people will feel much tighter on the right side and may not move as far through the range of motion. That is ok because the body isn’t all that symmetrical, especially in the hips.
- Kneeling Glute Mobility
This is my personal favorite, but it is easy to screw up. The front leg has to be pushed into the ground and then the hip turns out. The back also cannot round.
The idea on the kneeling glute mobility is to drive the femur back into the joint, creating some space to move.
- Hurdle Mobility
This drill is integrated and gives feedback by forcing someone to get over the hurdle. A lot of people will struggle with this.
- Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Mob
Your hip flexors will be screaming through this exercise. The key is to push the hips forward and then squeeze the butt. By activating the glutes, it will allow the hip flexor to get even more range of motion. This is a crowd pleaser, once it’s over with of course.
This can be turned into a circuit or done in the warm up. These 5 exercises should be performed 1-2 times a day for serious hockey players that want to perform better.
More mobility means better skating and I have yet to meet a hockey player that doesn’t want to improve their skating.