The winter season is now in full swing for high schools, not to mention other levels which have been playing for a few months now.
This is about the time when the players rejoice because the horrendous shotgun of pre-season conditioning is over. Nothing is worse than the weeks leading up to the first game because there is a lot of skating to be done in a short amount of time.
Once you’re past that its time for the fun to begin (unless you do not play up to your expectations and then its more skating) with the beginning of the regular season.
The season of any sport is going to bring about wear and tear on the players. Luckily there are ways to reduce the toll that a season takes.
Hockey has some considerations that need to be addressed even while the teams are still playing.
Foam rolling, work on a baseball/lacrosse ball, and massage therapy (if necessary) are all ways to maintain or improve tissue quality during the season.
The reason sports beat on the body is because they are repetitive in nature. This constant use of the same muscles results in knots, adhesions, and tightness in the fascia.
Hockey players tend to have overuse in their quads and glutes especially. This is the fee to play the sport and rolling these areas, among others, is going to go a long way in making it through the whole season.
Rolling will promote the return of fluid to the fascia and the release of tension in the muscles.
When the season arrives, mobility is most areas is going to suffer because of the reasons above.
The glutes are going to be stiff from all of the use, the hips flexors are going to be tight since they are never in an extended position, and the ankles are going to lose mobility since they are locked in a boot.
Doing some low level mobility drills will be important in ensuring health in the different joints.
Activation of the groin muscles
As mentioned before, the glutes do a ton of work because they are responsible for extending the hip. Every hockey stride is a forceful hip extension and the glutes become overused over time.
Opposing the gluteal muscles is the muscles of the groin and hip flexors. The hip flexors are constantly in a shortened position and therefore they will not be able to generate optimal force. This pushes dominance towards the muscles of the posterior hip.
The groin becomes very weak in comparison to the hip extensors. This strength imbalance makes it a risk factor for groin pulls and sports hernias.
An exercise that I found good for activating the groins is a slideboard reverse lunge. A slideboard is actually not necessary since a towel that slides on a floor will do the job. Put one foot on the board/towel, slide it back into a lunge, and slide back to the starting position.
Strength levels will deteriorate when training is stopped. It is important to continue to lift when possible. Performing squats, deadlifts, lunges, chinups, and bench presses will be important for maintaining strength.
The key to in season strength work is that the exercises should be familiar and the volume needs to be low. This will help in reducing soreness from training.
In season is not the time to be doing anything new that you found on the internet.
3-4 sets of 3-5 reps is a good range to stay in with the main lifts of the program. This will help to maintain strength for the whole season and not just the first 4 weeks of it.
Non specific power
Like strength, power is also lost when training ends. This does not mean that power needs to be trained in the manner of the sport, however.
An example of this would be doing lots of rotational throws during the season. Hockey players are taking thousands of shots per week. They are not going to improve that much by doing more rotational work.
Instead, they should be working on general power production. This can be done through regular med ball slams or chest passes.
It is also not the time to work on off ice sprinting. They will get plenty of this in during practice.
Working on these aspects is going to help the players be prepared for the whole season.
In season training is not the time up the intensity in the weight room. Instead time should be focused on what is going to keep the players healthy for the playoffs. Working on the aspects above 2-3 times a week will help with the success of the team.