Advances in Hockey Development

Last weekend, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2nd Annual Boston Hockey Summit. If you’re in the hockey world and didn’t make the trip, you really missed out. The presenter list was incredible, and included people from all aspects of hockey training and development (power skating, conditioning, recovery, strength training, etc.).

My friend and colleague Maria Mountain recently posted a question on the forum asking what the major take home was.

Hockey Strength and Conditioning

It would be impossible for me to identify one major take home, but there were a few things that stood out:

1) Everyone’s coaching situation (facility size, equipment availability, management/sport coach influence, clientele, staff, etc.) is different and programs reflect that highly. People should examine others’ programs with this in mind. I don’t think there is a such thing as a “perfect program”, only a “perfect program for that situation”. As an example, even if you write a highly individualized program for every athlete you have, something will be lost in the camaraderie of working through the same program with a group of similarly motivated athletes/teammates. There are pros and cons to everything.

2) A few people brought up the importance of teaching and reinforcing proper breathing patterns and emphasizing proper diaphragm function. If nothing else, I think some “diaphragm focused” breathing will work it’s way into some of my exercise tri-sets in future programs (e.g. A1: Reverse Lunge, B1: Lying Belly Breathing, B3: Stability Ball Front Plank). There is also now research supporting the use of off-ice resisted breathing devices to improve on-ice conditioning. Neat stuff.

3) As we all know, hockey frequently involves acyclic upper body movements in concert with cyclic and acylic lower body movements. In the past, I’ve always coached my players to use an arm swing similar to how they would skate while they’re slideboarding. Taking a step back to recognize the need of dissociated movement between the upper and lower body during many hockey movements, I’m considering at least mixing in some intentionally backward, still, or otherwise different upper body movements during our slideboard conditioning.

4) Lastly, recovery is crucial to adaptation. Two major areas to emphasize are proper nutrition (especially around practice, game, training times) and getting adequate QUALITY sleep at night. These are probably the two most overlooked aspects of a comprehensive hockey development program.

Keep training hard. Keep training smart.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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