3 Hockey Training Myths about Squatting

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Not too long ago I wrote a post outlining some myths about training for hockey players.

I spend a lot of time trying to break some of these ideas and whether the kids like it or not it is usually for their best interest.

Without further ago here are 3 more ideas that hockey players need to let go of about the squat.

Squatting is an exercise that a lot of people hold in a high regard. This is because it is one of the best exercises to build lower body strength.

Athletes have been using squats to train since the beginning of training so they obviously work.

The only issue is that not every athlete is capable of squatting nor should they all squat the same.

The squat is one of those exercises where everyone who has ever put a barbell on their back has an opinion on the matter. It is probably the most complex movement that athletes can perform.

This is where we get debates on squat depth, high bar vs low bar, front squats, and those that have pain from squatting. The better coaches figure out where their athletes are going to succeed and hammer on that pattern.

Each athlete is individual so a different variation might work a lot better for certain athletes over others. Some athletes are great with the back squat from the first time they do it and others may never progress beyond a goblet squat.

  1. Everyone should squat the same

I find that a lot of athletes are awesome at the front squat and brutal at the back squat. So why make everyone back squat?

If the athlete is going to get more good quality work out of front squatting then that should be the go to movement. The amount of time it would take to work on mobility and stability might not be enough to get the athlete to maybe squeak out some decent back squats.

Unless their sport requires a specific squat variation then most hockey players should pick the best variation for them and load it appropriately for effective training.

There should not be a blanket statement when it comes to squat variations and which one is best.

Oh and that does not even mention different foot positions and width while squatting, all of which can change depending on the person.

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  1. Everyone should squat

Not everyone should squat.

Hockey players are one population where there are two injury concerns when it comes to the squat.

One is extension based back pain. Hockey players play their sport with an increased arch in their low back. This can be very painful and potential damaging to the structures of the spine.

Adding a significant load with the bar could make symptoms worse and further injury could be a result.

Hockey players are also at a high risk for FAI. This is a bony overgrowth in the hip socket and can be very painful.

When the bone grows, we get bone to bone contact in the hip. Last time I checked you cannot stretch out or foam roll a bone. The only fix for this is surgery.

Luckily we can find out those that are at risk for FAI and eliminate the squat before more damage occurs. A lot of athletes that seem to get stuck with depth or complain of hip tightness when squatting or skating could be candidates for this.

These athletes will only do more harm by performing forcing squats. Instead they need to add in some single leg work. Lunges and split squats can be loaded up significantly in order for athletes to continue training hard.

  1. Squats are good, deadlifts are bad

Hockey players need to have strong glutes and hamstrings. It is really important for injury prevention and performance.

Having a strong posterior chain is essential to skating fast.

Deadlifts are one of the best ways to build this kind of strength. A lot of hockey players think deadlifts are so bad for their back that they should do them.

If they have some kind of back injury, then agreed that heavy deadlifts are probably not the answer.

All other athletes need to deadlift. The athletes that are worried about their back should only be concerned if they have bad technique.

Deadlifts are also part of a well-rounded program. Squats are much more of a knee dominant movement and deadlifts are much more of a hip movement.

They create balance among the big lower body lifts.

Great hockey players are also really strong deadlifters. Don’t skimp on what’s important.