Home Posts tagged "Off-Season Training for Hockey"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/13/19

I hope you had a great weekend. After being a bit all over the place on when I published these features, we're back on a Monday schedule with these recommended readings.

Table for One: How Eating Alone is Radically Changing Our Diets - I came across this article on The Guardian the other day and found it really interesting socially and nutritionally.

Speed Training for Hockey - I don't have a big hockey following on this blog, but Kevin Neeld (Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins) is a good friend, former intern, and super bright mind in the hockey training field. He just released this resource, and it's available at an excellent discount. If you train hockey players (or are one), it's a no brainer to pick it up. I actually went through it and found some excellent ideas we can use with our baseball athletes as well.

5 Important Lessons on Balance Training - I wrote this article about a year ago, and a recent social media discussion brought it back to the forefront.

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Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new 10,000-square-foot @cresseysportsperformance FL facility in #palmbeachgardens. It’ll open up this winter. Some notes: 1️⃣ the grassy area in front of the building will actually be a turfed infield and double as a Miracle League field 2️⃣ the West (left, in this photo) end of the roof will extend out to cover hitting cages and pitching mounds 3️⃣ we aren’t renaming CSP as “The Sports Center;” we’re just working through signage logistics 4️⃣ the building will back up to the right field line of a showcase stadium field 5️⃣ this is the view from @lomogram’s parking spot 🤣 We’re excited for what will be a great one-stop shop for athletes and general fitness clients alike. In particular, Palm Beach Gardens is quickly evolving as a training and competitive destination for baseball players from around the country. We’re thrilled to be a part of that evolution. #cspfamily

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The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual: New Site, New E-Book Format

I'm psyched to announce that The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual is now available as a digital product.  Until this point, the book had retailed as a hard copy version for $99.99 plus shipping/handling - but from here on out, you can get it for just $57 since we don't have any production or shipping costs.  This manual includes 30 weeks of sample programming based on the results of your self-tests.  Whether you're looking for off-season training for basketball, football, or some other sport, it's an excellent read.

And, we've got a new site to kick things off with the e-book version; check out www.UltimateOffSeason.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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The Best of 2009: Product Reviews

In my last post, we covered the most popular articles here at EricCressey.com in 2009.  Today, we'll cover my top product reviews of 2009.  Several of these were interviews with authors that came in light of their launch of new products.  In addition to discussion of the products, most of these have a ton of good information you won't want to miss. Warpspeed Fat Loss Results Part 1 and Part 2 - Technically, this was the end of 2008, but had we done a November-to-November year, it would have blown the rest of these product reviews out of the water.  The reason?  Results!  Check out the before and after pictures of one CP client who kicked some serious butt with this program.  For a lot of you who are looking to get on track with your fat loss efforts in the new year, this would be a good product to check out. Strength and Conditioning Webinars - I think this product might be the most useful one of the year for fitness professionals, as Anthony Renna has made sure that there is awesome content coming out month after month.  It's cheaper than traveling to seminars, and you can get educated on YOUR schedule.  I highly recommend checking it out.

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The Best Baseball Resource Out There - This write-up discusses the DVDs of the 2008 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp; I was one of eight presenters on the DVD. Accelerated Muscular Development - This product from Jim Smith was popular among folks who'd completed the Maximum Strength program and were looking for "The Next Step."

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The Evolution of Personal Training (with Alwyn Cosgrove) - In this interview, Alwyn covers some key concepts that every fitness professional should understand.

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Off-Ice Performance Training for Hockey (with Kevin Neeld) - This is an interview with Kevin that covers hockey training tips for both coaches and players. Tomorrow, we'll cover the most popular EricCressey.com exclusive videos on the year.
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Lying Knee-To-Knee Stretch

What the experts are saying about The Truth About Unstable Surface Training “Unstable surface training is many times misunderstood and misinterpeted in both the physical therapy and athletic performance fields. The Truth About Unstable Surface Training e-book greatly clarifies where unstable surface training strategically fits into an overall program of injury prevention, warm-up/activation, and increasing whole body strength. If you are a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or strength training professional, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training gives you a massive amount of evidence-based ammunition for your treatment stockpile.” Shon Grosse PT, ATC, CSCS Comprehensive Physical Therapy Colmar, PA Click here for more information on The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.

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Subscriber-Only Q&A Q: I have a question about your 22 More Random Thoughts article from October of 2008 on T-Nation.  In the stretch for the hips found above #10, I can't tell is that athlete bridging or are the hips on the ground.  Also, can you please explain exactly what is stretched and how a little bit about how it corrects out-toeing of the feet? A: Sure, no problem. Here's the lying knee-to-knee stretch, for those readers who missed the original article:

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First off, it's a stretch for the hip external rotators, and the athlete is not bridging up.  However, it's also useful to do the stretch in a more hips-extended position, as a small percentage of athletes will feel it more in that position.  To perform this stretch, we'll do the exact same position, but have the athlete set up atop a stability ball (which keeps the femurs in a more extended position). Poor hip internal rotation range-of-motion is something you'll see quite frequently in soccer players, hockey players, and powerlifters, as all spend a considerable amount of time in hip external rotation.  Likewise, I monitor this closely with all my baseball pitchers, as front leg hip internal rotation deficit is a huge problem for pitchers.  When the front hip opens up too soon because of these muscular restrictions, the arm lags behind the body (out of the scapular plane).  As such, it isn't uncommon for pitchers with elbow and/or shoulder pain to present with a significant hip internal rotation deficit. There is also a considerable amount of research to suggest that hip rotation deficits - and particularly, hip internal rotation deficits - are highly correlated with low back pain.  There was a great guest blog post at Mike Reinold's blog recently that highlights all this research; you can check it out HERE.  My personal experience with hundreds of people who have come my way with back pain overwhelmingly supports this "theory" (if you can even call it that).  It's my firm belief that this is one of the primary reasons Mike Robertson and I have gotten so much great feedback on our Magnificent Mobility DVD from folks who have seen a reduction (or altogether elmination) in back pain.  Teach folks to move at the hips (particularly in rotation) instead of the lumbar spine, and whatever's going on in their low backs calms down.

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Our goal is a minimum of 40 degrees of hip internal rotation.  This is measured in the seated position (hips flexed to 90 degrees). In addition to the classes of athletes I mentioned earlier, we also need to watch out for hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD) in the general population because of what happens further down the kinetic chain.  We all know that overpronation at the subtalar join is a big problem for a lot of folks.  This can occur because of a collection of factors, from poor footwear (too much heel lift), to muscular weakness (more on this in a second), to mobility deficits (particularly at the ankle), to congenital factors (flat feet). To understand how pronation affects the hip external rotators, you'll need to listen to a brief synopsis of subtalar joint function... During the gait cycle, the subtalar joint pronates, to aid in deceleration.  Basically, the foot flattens out to give us a bigger base of support from which to cushion impact, and from there, we switch back over to supination to get a rigid foot from which to propel.  The picture below shows what our foot looks like when we have too much pronation.

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Here's where our hip gets involved.  Physical therapist John Pallof once called the subtalar joint a "torque converter," and it really stuck with me.  What that means is that while the subtalar joint allows motion in three planes for pronation/supination, it converts this motion into transverse plan motion where it interacts with the tibia.  And, as you can imagine based on the picture above, when you pronate, you increase tibial internal rotation. This, in turn, increased femoral internal rotation.  Taken all together, we realize that increasing pronation means that there is more tibial and femoral internal rotation to decelerate with each step, stride, or jump landing. The hip external rotators are strong muscles with a big cross sectional area, so they can take on this burden.  However, over time, they can get balled up from overuse.  As a result, the hip will sit in a more externally rotated position all the time - and the feet simply come along for the ride.  That said, as I wrote HERE, it isn't the only cause of this foot position, so be sure to assess thoroughly and individualize your recommendations. Also, a quick side note, be careful using this stretch with individuals who have previously experienced medial knee injuries, as the valgus stress can be a bit too much for some folks. New Blog Content Random Friday Thoughts For High School Pitchers, No Grace Period Doga?  Seriously? CP Athlete Featured at Precision Nutrition I encourage you to check out this Precision Nutrition Athlete Profile on Cressey Performance athlete and Oakland A's minor league pitcher Shawn Haviland.  Shawn completely changed his body this off-season and had a nice velocity jump from 87-89 to 91-93mph - and he's off to a good start for the Kane County Cougars. A lot of this can be attributed to him making huge strides with improving his nutrition. Have a great week! EC
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21st Century Nutrition: An Interview with Precision Nutrition Creator, Dr. John Berardi

Normally, my newsletters are "hidden" pages available only to our subscribers, but with the content today, I thought I'd open it up to the rest of the world.  After all, it's not like you can just get a rock star like Dr. John Berardi to do an interview for your site.  JB has been a friend and incredible resource to me for almost ten years now, and he's always got great information to share.  So, without further ado, here is EricCressey.com's exclusive interview with Dr. John Berardi: EC: First off, it's hard to believe that over the course of almost 150 newsletters, I never got around to interviewing you.  Thanks for taking the time to jump in on this. JB: Yea, tell me about it.  I've been waiting by the phone for, like, three years now. EC: Well, now that you've gone through all that therapy to get over me neglecting you, we might as well right to it.  To start, fill us in on what you're up to these days.  I know you moved back from Texas to the North Pole a while back, but I'm guessing that you aren't building toys and stuffing stockings all year.  What's new with John Berardi and Precision Nutrition? JB:  Well, although working with high-level athletes is cool and all, when Santa calls for nutrition advice, you drop what you're doing and you head north. In all seriousness, though, I'm actually splitting my time between Austin, Texas and a town called St. Catharines in Ontario.  St Catharines is about 50 min outside Toronto and is basically the Napa Valley of Canada.  The area is a tremendous agricultural gem and because of this, I have a never-ending supply of locally grown produce and wines as well as local, hormone-free, and often grass fed meat.  So now, I've got two great towns to call my home. EC: I hear you.  When I was considering the move to Boston, the lack of grass-fed beef and local wines was a bit of a turnoff, but it was a sacrifice that I was willing to make because I just couldn't wait to sink my life savings into the Big Dig and the most inefficient state government in the United States - but I digress... How about the professional side of things? JB: On the professional side, I just did a tally.  As of last week, the Precision Nutrition community has grown to over 46,000 members in over 97 countries.  I can't tell you how proud I am that we've been able to help out that many people. And beyond this, we've also launched a couple of new programs for members of the community - our Lean Eating Coaching Program and our Clinical Services Program. EC: 97 countries?  Don't you want to just give out a few freebies in a few lesser known African nations to bring it to a cool 100?  I would. Anyway, tell us about these two new things. JB: First, our Lean Eating coaching program.  Over the last few years, we've become coaching experts, working with everyone from recreational exercisers, to folks suffering from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to multiple Olympic medalists. And as a result of this experience, we've developed intensive group coaching programs for men and for women.  Each coaching participant gets to work with us for 6 months.  And the feedback we've gotten is tremendous - and so are the numbers.  The average fat loss is 2-3lbs per month while following the program! In addition, we're in the process of launching a clinical services suite where we're taking individualization to a whole new level.  Using things like psychometric profiles, wellness-based blood analysis, and nutrigenomics profiling, we're now able to take a peek inside people's psychologies and physiologies to determine the absolute best way to coach them to success.  This is like nothing our industry has seen before and I promise it's going to shake things up quite a bit. EC: Very cutting-edge - but I think that's an adjective we've all come to associate with your name over time.  To that end, I was chatting with a colleague recently and your name came up in the conversation.  I told him that what amazed me was that you have not only taken a seemingly "boring" subject - nutrition - and made it "sexy" and "fun," but have actually done that for close to a decade now.  What's the secret to your success? JB:  Well, thanks for saying that, although I don't know if it's actually true.  However, if it is, it might be because of a few reasons. First, I can't tell you how many "nutrition experts" I've met that wouldn't know a healthy diet if it came up and bit them on the ear.  They may study nutrition.  And they may teach nutrition.  But they don't practice it.  And that's why they all seem to possess the same ability to make nutrition super-boring.  It's not real to them.  They don't live it day in and day out. On the other hand, I actually live the Precision Nutrition lifestyle.  365 days a year, I practice what I preach.  And, I've been doing exactly that for about 20 years now.  Plus, I've worked with a helluva lot of clients, at all levels.  So I pretty much practice nutrition and think about nutrition all the time.  Trust me, it makes a huge difference. EC: I can definitely attest to that.  Like you, I own my own business and have a lot of competing demands in my professional life, so it often seems that there aren't enough hours in the day.  In other words, working efficiently and having energy all the time is of paramount importance.  I've been following your work since the late 1990s and it's not only shaped my own personal nutrition practices, but also those of all of Cressey Performance's clients. JB:  And, you know, the funny thing is this.  When you do what I do, and you've done it for this long, you realize that there are a lot of nuances to eating well.  Sure, there's the what to eat, the when to eat, and the how much to eat.  And these are all very interesting.   But that's only scratching the surface. There's also the psychology of eating, which is quite fascinating.   There are genetic and individual differences associated with how each of us processes and tolerates foods.  And we haven't even mentioned supplements yet.  Nor have we talked about all the great new research that's coming out on food and nutrition every single day!  By exploring each of these very interesting areas, it's pretty easy to keep things fresh, new, and, hopefully exciting. EC: That's a good point. JB: Also, I always try to keep in mind that nutrition in the present deals in generalities.  There are recommended dietary intakes.  There are food pyramids.  There are general calculations for energy intake. However, nutrition is evolving in exciting ways.  It's becoming more individual.  And with blood analysis, genomic profiling, and more in the very near future, we'll be able to prescribe highly individualized nutrition plans for folks based on just a few simple tests. Indeed, the future is really exciting when it comes to nutrition.  And I'm happy that I'm in the prime of my career so I can ride the wave of this new nutrition information and technology. EC: Speaking of "evoluation," you've recently introduced Precision Nutrition: Version 3.0, which piggybacks on the first two installments.  What's new in this version? JB:  As our 46,000 members can attest to, I'm relentless about keeping the Precision Nutrition System, the cornerstone of all of our nutrition recommendations, up to date.

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So, every year or two, we release a new version.  This time, it's our 3rd edition and this edition has improved upon V2 by an order of magnitude.  Now, don't get me wrong, V2 was great.  However, we've completely revised the content, we've added three new manuals/sections, and we've even given the whole project a facelift. As of V3, here's what folks can find:
  • The PN Success Guide
  • The PN Diet Guide
  • The Quick Start Guide
  • The Super Shake Guide
  • 5 Minute Meals
  • The Individualization Guide
  • The Measurement Guide
  • The Plant-Based Diet Guide (Brand New)
  • The Maintenance Guide (Brand New)
  • The Support Guide (Brand New)
In addition, we're now including Gourmet Nutrition V1, the Precision Nutrition Audio Collection, the Precision Nutrition Video Collection, and The Precision Nutrition Online Library.  It's a ton of great stuff.  Indeed, it's everything folks need to know to get the body they want. EC: Absolutely.  Thanks for helping out with the interview; sorry it took so long for us to make it happen! JB:  My pleasure.  Thanks, Eric. To find out more about Dr. John Berardi and his renowned Precision Nutrition System, head on over to PrecisionNutrition.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a detailed deadlift technique tutorial!
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Off-Ice Performance Training for Hockey

Cressey Performance was lucky to have Kevin Neeld around the facility last summer, and all our coaches were much better off thanks to this experience.  Kevin always makes some great points and is never afraid to question the norm - and do a ton of research.  Kevin's specialty is hockey, and he recently introduced an Off-Ice Performance Training E-Manual for hockey players and coaches that is absolutely fantastic.  I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy, and it was so good that I couldn't wait to get an interview with him up here at EricCressey.com.  So, without further ado, here it is. EC: I'll be the first to admit that if I see another seminar presentation or article on "core training," I'm going to lose my lunch.  Interestingly, though (and to be blunt), yours in this product doesn't suck.  In other words, there is a lot to be learned both specific to hockey and in a general sense.  Can you explain for my readers in a bit of detail? KN: Sure thing.  In my experience, the reason core training is so poorly practiced is because people don't understand what muscles are involved in the core and what their collective function is.  Beyond the rectus abdominis ("6-pack" muscles) and the external and internal obliques, the core encompasses over a dozen other muscles that attach to the hips, rib cage, and spine.  Collectively, these muscles serves a few major, inter-related functions: 1) Control movement of the hips; 2) provide a stable base for leg and arm movement; and 3) create stiffness for efficient force transfer between the upper and lower body. My approach to core training is pretty straight forward: 1) Teach athletes awareness-what core stability is and feels like; 2) Train for core stability; 3) Progress to dynamic stability (stability challenged by internal or external forces); 4) Progress to training core stiffness and force transfer; 5) Combine force transfer and dynamic stability into one exercise. The progressions are explained in more detail in the course, but to give you an idea of what that looks like: 1) Abdominal draw-ins (for awareness, NOT transversus abdominis isolation...which is a stupid concept), and simply having the athlete put their hands over their stomach, fill their belly up with air, squeeze their core and continue to breathe. 2) Planks and bridges 3) Planks and bridges with partner perturbations 4) Medicine ball throws, tosses, and slams 5) Combined med ball exercises with holds in various positions challenged by a partner perturbation I hope that all makes sense.  The course doesn't go into full detail on medicine ball exercises because I really wanted to make the exercises and progressions realistic for a team setting, and typically there isn't a lot of equipment available. EC: Along these same lines, what are the specific injury issues that you prioritize in this e-manual? KN: Hockey players are plagued by hip and lower abdominal injuries.  What's scary is that the true causes and predisposing risk factors to these injuries are only starting to be explored in the research community.  Usually, creating an appropriate balance within and between the hip and core musculature can prevent these injuries.  For example, if you have a strength imbalance between the muscles on the outside and inside of your hip, your risk of adductor (commonly referred to as the "groin") strain increases.  If you have a strength imbalance between your adductors and your anterior abdominal musculature, your risk of lower abdominal injury increases.  As with most injuries, the key is creating a balance. As a quick note, creating balance often means utilizing unbalanced training.  Your readers may know this already since you talk about the same things with your baseball guys.  Hockey players take several dozens shots every week.  These shots usually involve forceful rotation in the same direction.  The best way to create balance would be to use an unbalanced training program with more rotation or anti-rotation exercises in the direction OPPOSITE to that in which they shoot.  This is where sport-specific training really threw people off.  Training "sport-specific" patterns again and again off the ice is likely to increase injury risk, not performance. Getting back to hip and lower abdominal injuries...Typically these injuries are a result of under-preparation or overuse, both of which can be addressed with similar training methods.  I first implemented some of the dynamic warm-up and core training exercises outlined in the course with the University of Delaware Men's Ice Hockey Team in 2006.  We had ZERO pre-season hip flexor or "groin" injuries.  Not a single player missed a single practice or game.  I've refined a lot of things since then, but a lot of the concepts are still the same.  Warm-up appropriately by improving range of motion around the right joints and activating the right muscles, and train the core for its true function, and you'll likely avoid these injuries. EC: Hockey players, like all athletes, have loads of competing demands - from on-ice technical work, to energy systems training, to resistance training, to flexibility training.  This manual does a great job of integrating all these features.  Where do you feel that most people make the biggest mistakes in this regard? KN: It really depends on the team, but the three things that seem to come up most often are: 1) The training of most youth programs involves a couple laps around the rink, a long stretch, maybe some jumping, push-ups and sit-ups.  These programs leave out a lot of important forms of training (e.g. dynamic flexibility, core stability, reactive agility, acceleration/deceleration, etc.). 2) Conditioning is still horribly misunderstood.  The idea that hockey players need to train for a well-developed "aerobic system" by going for long runs is pretty ridiculous.  We're talking about a sport that typically involves 30-45 second shifts, followed by several minutes of rest.  Within each shift, there are typically a few bouts of 3-5 second all out efforts, followed by periods of gliding, and usually a stoppage or two.  This breaks down into something like 20 seconds of high intensity effort every five minutes.  Repeated 20-minute jogs around the rink will make you well-conditioned for the wrong sport. 3) The largest problem I see in team settings is a complete disregard for the QUALITY of movement.  Hockey players and coaches are very driven, which usually means they want more, not better.  The first thing I do when working with a new team is sit them all down and tell them that focus will be placed on quality of movement before intensity or quantity of movement.  Moving the wrong way, at a high intensity or volume, will only make bad patterns worse.  I made a strong effort in the course to emphasize proper movement and technique and provide simple coaching cues so that people without a background in sport biomechanics can still move the right way. EC: A large percentage of the folks reading this resource are going to be high school athletes and coaches - many of whom play multiple sports.  What pieces of advice do you have for these folks?  How can they make the most of this training when they've got other sports on top of the competing demands we discussed above? KN: My advice: Keep playing multiple sports.  Early specialization (only playing hockey from a young age) will have detrimental effects on your development and movement quality as you get older.  Typically these are the players that dominate when they're 12-14, then drop off the map or are plagued by injuries at 20. To get to the heart of your question, good training is good training.  The course outlines quality training in the context of hockey, but the principles are mostly the same for all sports.  A strong, functional core will improve performance in all sports.  Training to improve acceleration, and your ability to rapidly decelerate and change direction explosively will improve performance in all sports.  I use many of the same dynamic warm-up progressions for hockey players as I do for athletes in all other sports (rowing, soccer, football, basketball, lacrosse, etc.).  All team-sport athletes need to be mobile, stable, strong, explosive, and quick.  I honestly can't think of a sport that wouldn't benefit from the training outlined in the course, which details how to alter the intensity and volume of your training in preparation for more important games (which becomes an increasingly important concept for athletes playing multiple sports at the same time). EC: Thanks for taking the time, Kevin.  Great points - and definitely a great resource, too. For more information on Kevin's Off-Ice Performance Training Course, head over to HockeyTrainingU.com.

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Random Friday Thoughts: 3/6/09

1. Last weekend, my girlfriend and I headed down to Florida for a quick three-day escape to warm weather, but today, we'll be shooting up to Southern Maine to visit with my mother's class.  She's a teacher at my old stomping grounds, Kennebunk High School (Go Rams).  I'll be chatting with her students about fascinating topics such as: a. how to make a fried egg without a spatula b. how I became a ninja without ever receiving a degree in ninjalogy from an accredited institution c. why Tony Gentilcore's knee sleeves smell worse than...well...anything d. why they should wear belts and stop turning the brims of their baseball caps off to the side 2. I had a new article published yesterday at T-Nation: Seven Habits of Highly Defective Benchers In reality, this article could have been called "Why Kevin Larrabee has missed a 300-pound bench press 931 times."

And, a second attempt, just because the first one was sooooo close...

Don't worry, Larrabee; you're still my boy.

3. Speaking of writing, I actually got started on a new project this week.  Things quiet down a bit for me during the high school baseball season, so it is when I focus more on seminars, writing, and rescuing kittens from trees.

4. This week's 16x16 sled relay went a lot more smoothly than last week.  In fact, we beat our best time by about 45 seconds.  We've got one more week of this madness, and then we'll find something new for the Thursday insanity.

5. Just a quick note of congratulations to the Lincoln-Sudbury hockey team, whose season came to an end with a tough loss in the state semifinals last night.  Nine guys from the team trained with us last off-season, and these guys deserved all the success that came their way.  Nice job this season, fellas.

Have a great weekend!

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Unstable Surface Training for Hockey

In a blog last week, I discussed how important it is to differentiate between unstable surfaces and destabilizing torques applied further up the kinetic chain, as they comprise different kinds of instability training.

I receive a great question in response to the blog:

“Eric, what do you think about unstable surface training for hockey? I’ve been using half-dome stability balls for a long time now in many settings (high school through college) with my trainers. I can’t tell if the effect wouldn’t be the same if I were doing something else but skates do wobble under weak players when pivoting and stopping quickly under loads up to 2-3 times body weight, and ankles do adjust to become more stable after training like this. What’s your experience? Thanks, Boris”

It’s an interesting case, as the blade of a hockey skate is certainly different than regular flat surface.

Even more interestingly, though, is that Boris – through his question and also his personal experience – has directly highlighted some important research that was done in this regard.

In 2005, Behm et al. (1) examined the correlation between hockey skating speed and performance on a 30-second wobble board test. Interestingly, they found a significant correlation in players under the age of 19. However, no such correlation existed with players age 19 and older. So, how does this occur?

Here’s an analogy: go to a little league park, and find the kids who have the best fastball velocity. Chances are that they are also the kids who run the fastest, jump the highest, do the most chin-ups – or any other physical test that you throw at them. Very simply, this difference can easily be attributed to different levels of motor development in young skaters.  Heck, with just a quick Google search for "youth hockey," I came across this picture.

You'll notice that the physical development is markedly different across the board.  In fact, the 6-4, 230-pound goalie drove all the other 11-year-olds to the game, taught them how to shave, and then hit on all the hockey moms after the game at the local bar.

Moving back to the aforementioned Behm et al. study, the researchers noted, “The complex skills associated with skating would necessitate a more refined balance that would improve with maturity and perhaps training. Since skating is performed on a very small surface area (blade) in contact with a low friction surface, younger individuals with greater stability may have an advantage in executing the specific skating skills” (1).

So, in reality, we’re comparing physical development and not necessarily performance on a specific test – until we level the playing field and physical maturity is roughly equal for everyone (after the age of 18). At that point, you don’t see a correlation, so I’d be very reluctant to endorse lower-body unstable surface training as a useful training implement for hockey outside of specific rehabilitation situations.

Also, to take this a step further, I need to make a clarification with respect to this statement from the original question: "ankles do adjust to become more stable after training like this."  This should actually be rephrased as "previously injured ankles do adjust to become more stability after training like this."  The truth is that nobody has really verified the incremental benefit of such training in healthy ankles (read: no previous history of injury) with a truly functional outcome measure.

The long-term studies examining the issue have been poorly controlled in the sense that they've looked at ankle sprains over the course of an extended period of time with an unstable surface training intervention, but haven't taken into account previous history  of injury.  So, the athletes engaged in the unstable surface training group may simply have been rehabilitating previous ankle injuries with longstanding functional deficits rather than "fortifying" already healthy ankles to prevent injuries.  Interestingly, in one study of elite female soccer players, balance board training did not decrease the rate of traumatic lower extremity injuries.  The frequency of major injuries - including four of five anterior cruciate ligament tears - was actually higher in the intervention (unstable surface training) group than the control group (2).

For more information, check out my new e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.

References:

1. Behm, DG, Wahl, MJ, Button, DC, Power, KE, and Anderson, KG. Relationship between hockey skating speed and selected performance measures. J Strength Cond Res. 19(2):326-31. 2005. 2. Soderman, K, Werner, S, Pietila, K, Engstrong, B, and Andredson, H. Balance board training: prevention of traumatic injuries of the lower extremities in female soccer players: a prospective randomized intervention study.  Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 8(6):356-63. 2000. New Blog Content Random Friday Thoughts Unstable Ground or Destabilizing Torques Built for Show That'll do it for this newsletter. All the Best, EC
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Maximum Strength and Interval Training

Q: I do intervals as part of hockey training, which is basically year-round – but especially now in pre-season. In Maximum Strength, you use a pattern of high-medium-very.high-low training stress for weeks 1-4. Would the interference with intervals that you talk about decrease if I do interval work mainly during the medium and low intensity weeks? What is your experience? A: I certainly wouldn't increase the volume of the intervals during the medium and low-intensity weeks. If you do, you simply negate the effects of the deloading period; it’s still stress on your body. Instead, I'd just keep the interval work constant and make all your training stress fluctuations occur within your weight training. That said, interval training isn’t necessary year-round if you are a hockey player. Check out my Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual for more information on that front.
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