Over the last several years, I’ve become a strong believer in developing individual-specific ideal movement patterns both to improve performance and to minimize injury risk. I have to put the “individual-specific” disclaimer in there to highlight the fact that everyone’s joint anatomy is a little different and you can’t always expect the exact same movement patterns from every player.

With that said, a lot of the hockey players we see need work in a few movements. Three big ones are:

-Pelvic stability during lateral miniband walks
-Scapular stability during pressing movements
-Knee/hip control during double and single leg landings

Grooving new movement patterns generally follows this progression:

1) The athlete needs to understands EXACTLY what you want them to do and can picture themselves doing it the right way in their heads.
2) Once they have that, focused coaching/cuing is necessary to get them to FEEL themselves doing it the right way.
3) The volume of the movement needs to be steadily increased to help reinforce the correct performance of the movement

One of the biggest problems I see in the proper execution of this progression is that, especially in youth team settings when proper movement technique learning is most important, massive amounts of volume are loaded on top of an improper movement base.

I think of grooving new movement patterns like starting a new river. Picture drawing a line in the sand with your pointer finger about a foot long. Imagine what would happen if you slowly poured water in one end of that line. After some water was absorbed the sand, the rest would trickle along the rest of the line to the other end, bringing some sand from the border with it, and ultimately making the line a little wider, deeper, and longer. If you kept doing this over and over, you’d get a strongly grooved water pathway.

Now, play that tape back in reverse. Imagine you just drew the line in the sand with your finger. Instead of slowly pouring water in, somebody’s kid runs over and dumps an entire bucket of water on the end of the line.

Can you picture the explosive ruining of your line-signifying movement pattern?

As you’ve heard me say before, it comes down to QUALITY being a prerequisite to QUANTITY. I’ve heard the idea that it takes 10,000 repetitions before something is “perfected” and can be performed without much thought, but those 10,000 repetitions need to be performed at a HIGH quality, and doing them all in one day won’t get you very far.  Sometimes less is more. “Do less.”

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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