For most, the hockey season has begun. This means intense practices, private lessons and games. Now you have to mix in off ice or dryland training into the equation, but how do you do that? A comprehensive in season training program must include modifications throughout the season in order to maximize performance while reducing injuries. Different portions of the season may require different types of training. These sessions must to have a purpose and not just a workout that makes the player want to puke or be so sore they can’t walk the next day.
Each team or athlete may have different needs that have to be addressed, but typically our programs will begin with movement based exercises and conditioning. The movement exercises are implemented so that the athlete moves properly and can get into the positions they will find themselves in during competition. Early in the season, the conditioning is important so the athlete is prepared for the rigors of the upcoming season as fatigue will lead to poor performance and an increase in injuries. As the season evolves, the focus will change more to a strength, power and injury prevention phase in order to continue to stay strong and healthy. Mechanics are still a key during this phase and movement based exercise are still included, especially if they are not mastered yet. Throughout the year there will be tournaments and showcases where some teams may play five games in three days. This needs to be taken in account and the program will need to be modified to include more injury prevention and recovery exercises in order to assist the athlete to feeling fresh again.
The season is full of ups and downs, harder times and easier times and your off ice training must adjust for the rigors of the season. As a strength coach, it is imperative that there is contact with the coach to see where the team is physically and schedule wise, so they can make the necessary modifications. A well rounded program will produce a player who performs well, feels good and resists injury.
Chris Phillips is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 20 years experience in professional hockey, football and soccer. Chris is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County, CA.