A 2013 study from Philippon et al. found that over 1/3 of 10-12 year old hockey players have a structural change in their hips that limits hip flexion range of motion. Roughly 1/2 have hip labral tears.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
SpeedTrainingforHockey.com
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingAdaptation.com

P.S. For more information on how to assess movement and integrate specific strategies to improve mobility and movement quality in training, check out Optimizing Movement. Don’t have a DVD player? Send me a note through the contact page after you checkout here Optimizing Movement and I’ll get you a digital copy of the videos!

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Over the last 10 years, there’s been a wide-spread emphasis on “high intensity interval training” to improve conditioning in team sport athletes.

Recently, there’s been more attention paid to the importance of repeat sprint ability (i.e. clustered maximum efforts with incomplete rest before longer periods of lower intensity activity or complete rest), either as the predominant characteristic of sport or as a key characteristic during critical moments of competition.

Unfortunately, a byproduct of these trends is that the benefits of aerobic training have been either largely overlooked or actively dismissed.

Short sprints rely heavily on the PCr (Phosphocreatine) system as an energy source. One of the major limiting factors to repeat sprint ability is the resynthesis of PCr, which is depleted from max efforts lasting more than few seconds (or short efforts repeated within condensed time periods…like a typical hockey shift).

Aerobic training is one of the primary methods of improving PCr resynthesis rates.

Below is a quote from a paper I reference often:

“High-intensity interval training (6–12·[2 minutes at ~100% VO2max:1minute rest]), can significantly improve PCr resynthesis during the first 60 seconds following high-intensity exercise. In contrast, no changes in the rate of PCr resynthesis have been reported following interval (8·[30 seconds at ~130% VO2max:90seconds rest]), or intermittent-sprint training (15·[6-second sprint: 1-minute jog recovery]), or training involving repeated, 30-second, all-out efforts (4–7·[30 seconds ‘all-out’: 3–4 minutes rest]).“

While the authors use “high-intensity interval training” to describe the 6-12 x 2:00/1:00 interval, this is not a method commonly used by those relying on high intensity conditioning (the later examples in the quote are more representative).

The point here is that even if your goal is SOLELY to support maximum speed efforts, aerobic training plays a KEY role in allowing the athlete to repeat those outputs.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
SpeedTrainingforHockey.com
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingAdaptation.com

P.S. For comprehensive hockey training programs to improve your speed AND repeat sprint ability, check out: Speed Training for Hockey

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There are several notable differences in the stride pattern and muscular contributions of acceleration and max speed – both in running and skating.

I shared some of the differences in skating characteristics in previous posts that you can find by clicking on the #SpeedTraining highlight on my instagram account.

The images above are taken from a terrific research paper written by @kenclarkspeed and his colleagues exploring the relationship between acceleration and max speed at the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

The top graph shows the acceleration profiles of athletes ranging from the slowest to the fastest. Notice that the shapes of the curves are very similar, just shifted up or down for faster or slower max speeds, respectively.

When the acceleration curves are displayed as a percentage of the max speed reached, they are almost identical (bottom graph).

This was one of the key findings of the study – that max speed could very well be a primary limiting factor for acceleration.

In other words – if your goal is to improve acceleration (i.e. “first step quickness”), there is still a place in your program for maximum speed work.

In implementing max speed work, it’s important to recognize both the characteristics of max speed you’re training to improve, and the characteristics of the athlete. For example, many hockey players are not efficient runners. As a result, increasing sprinting distance or speed is likely to also increase injury risk. Running extended sprints (e.g. 40-60 yards) or extended flying sprints (e.g. 10-20 yard build, 15-20 yard flying sprint) may be effective at increasing maximum speed, but the risk isn’t worth the reward.

Two alternatives:

  • Emphasize maximum speed work on the ice, where the patterns are both more specific to the end-goal, and safer for the athlete
  • Perform max speed work on an Assault bike, where the required movement skill is low, and the athlete can focus entirely on maximizing the output.

In both cases, it’s appropriate to use similar methods as sprinting (e.g. longer duration maximum output efforts (4-6s), and flying sprints to allow players to reach and sustain max speeds).

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
SpeedTrainingforHockey.com
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingAdaptation.com

P.S. For comprehensive hockey training programs to improve your speed AND repeat sprint ability, check out: Speed Training for Hockey

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Long-term athletic development models describe themes of training (i.e.,emphasis on fun vs. winning), and phases of accelerated development of specific physical qualities based on stages of development.

This model by Ford et al. (2011), is the most comprehensive I’ve come across, and is particularly valuable because it shows that the stages will be variable dependent on the individual athlete’s gender, biological age, mental/cognitive development, and emotional development (i.e., not all athletes hit the windows of accelerated development at the exact same age).

In using this information to influence training youth athletes, it’s helpful to understand the underlying mechanisms that are driving these accelerated stages of development.

For example, the first speed window is improved largely through rapid changes in development of the central nervous system – so in addition to performing short sprints with kids at this stage, it’s an optimal time to integrate a diverse range of movement patterns/skills, NOT just hammer the basics. This is similar to the shift toward teaching foreign languages at young ages.

Acknowledging these stages can help performance and sports coaches design training programs and practices that best facilitate development for their specific athletes, while also recognizing that a HUGE part of long-term development is creating an environment for kids to fall in love with the sport.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

A lot of attention has been paid to long-term athletic development and strategies to develop elite performers. The inarguable truth is… it takes time, and a lot of work.

Unfortunately, this fact has led to aggressive training and athlete development strategies being pushed on athletes at younger and younger ages, which is counter-productive.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
SpeedTrainingforHockey.com
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingAdaptation.com

P.S. Interested in age-specific year-round hockey training programs? Check out Ultimate Hockey Transformation

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Building on yesterday’s post on the impact of the interaction between conditioning and movement efficiency on performance…

Movement quality and conditioning also impact injury risk.

This 2013 study found that military personnel with slow 3-mile times (i.e. poor aerobic fitness) and poor movement quality (defined as FMS Score ≤ 14) were 4.2x more likely to sustain an injury.

A few quick thoughts on why this matters:

  • If an athlete has restrictions in mobility and/or stability, they have fewer options to absorb force/stress and are more likely to “wear out” something along the path they’re using. Increasing movement variability not only has performance benefits, it allows stress to be distributed through joints and soft-tissue structures in different ways, which is a factor in injury risk reduction (particularly in overuse injuries).
  • If an athlete is poorly conditioned (whatever that means for the task at hand), movement quality and control will break down sooner and they’re more likely to reach an injury threshold and/or rely on passive structures to absorb force, which has both short- and long-term joint health implications.
  • Regardless of movement quality and conditioning, at some point, everyone breaks. Monitoring the volume and intensity of sport demands in some capacity is crucial for ensuring you don’t overlook major spikes in either.
  • Maximizing movement variability and optimizing conditioning levels for a given sport will help improve durability across typical and atypical sport/activity demands.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
SpeedTrainingforHockey.com
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingAdaptation.com

P.S. If you’re interested in more information about how to profile an athlete’s needs and use the profile to individualize a training program, check out the videos at Optimizing Adaptation & Performance

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