Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of questions about training phase length and sequencing for youth hockey players.

This image is of the periodization template I put together for a youth organization I worked with in the past.

For that organization, we divided the teams into 3 groups by age: Group A: U-12 (Mites & Squirts), Group B: ~12-14 (Peewees & Bantams), Group C (Midgets).

Group A’s program was more game-based, so we didn’t have a formal periodization model in place.

The focus for Groups B&C are slightly different, but in both cases, we used the first several weeks of the season to establish a foundation of our expectations for the training process – showing up on time, warming up as a group, how to read a training program, fundamental movement patterns, etc. Overall training stress is low while the players acclimate to higher on-ice loads.

Group B transitions back and forth between accumulation (relatively higher volume work) and intensification (relatively lower volume/higher intensity work). This is done primarily as a teaching strategy – allow the players to accumulate “practice” reps and perfect movements before emphasizing load.

Similarly, Group C starts with 2 weeks each of an eccentric and isometric phase, which are used to help the players learn (and the coaches to teach) more advanced exercises by slowing down the motion and strengthening the “sticking point”, respectively.

In general, exercises would progress or transition to a new variation in each phase.

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 year-round comprehensive hockey-specific training programs for players at different ages, check out Ultimate Hockey Transformation.

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Today’s Thursday Throwback is an appropriate follow-up to last week’s post on the relationship between flexibility and muscle injury risk. If you missed that, you can check it out here: Does Flexibility INCREASE your risk of injury?

This is another short, but important read, as it touches on an idea that I think every youth athlete I’ve ever worked with has been taught incorrectly. Enjoy the post, and please pass it along to any friends or family you think would benefit from reading it!

Should You Stretch After You Pull A Muscle?

Think about the times in your life that you’ve “tweaked” a muscle or slightly strained/pulled it.

What was the FIRST thing you did on your own or were told to do?

If you’re like most people, you immediately stretched the muscle.

straight-leg-adductor-stretch-bilateral

This isn’t always the answer

The very first thing I tell my athletes if they tweak a muscle is NOT to stretch it!

A muscle strain can range from a slight over-stretch to a complete tear. Assuming the muscle isn’t COMPLETELY torn, it’s likely that there is some micro-damage to the muscle and that the muscle feels tight because it’s guarding against further injury.

This means that most people are attempting to stretch an over-stretched muscle AGAINST the muscles’ contraction.

Not only is this not an effective way to speed up your healing, but it’s probably making your injury worse!

Think about your muscle as a rubber band. Now imagine cutting a small slit in the rubber band with a razorblade.

If you stretch that rubber band now, what’s going to happen?

The small slit is going to expand, getting longer and wider.

Does making a slight tear in your muscle longer and wider seem like a smart recovery strategy?

If you tweak a muscle, DO NOT stretch it. You can ice it if you want (although I’m not convinced that ice does anything either). If you’re going to stretch anything, stretch the muscles that OPPOSE the injured muscle.

Many muscles are overworked or strained because of a relative stiffness imbalance with their antagonists, so stretching the opposing muscle can help bring you back into balance.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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Today’s “Thursday Throwback” is a quick one from 2009. This continues to be a trend we see in our assessments today and I think, while basic, highlights that you can go wrong on both ends of the flexibility continuum. Those that are too immobile at one joint are likely to move excessively at another. Those that are too mobile at one joint may be more likely to suffer from injuries as a result of a lack of stability and/or constant attempt to manage the instability (e.g. muscle injuries). This is why optimizing movement is such an important concept!

Optimizing Movement DVD Package

 

Enjoy the post below:

Does Flexibility INCREASE your risk of injury?

A couple weeks ago I did an audio interview with Joe Heiler for SportsRehabExpert.com, one of the most underrated membership sites on the web. I’m really humbled that he asked me to contribute.

If you’ve never been there, check it out. Joe’s a really bright guy and has compiled a lot of great information from other smart, successful coaches and therapists.

SportsRehabExpert.com

One of the things that came up during the interview was what we can do to prevent “groin” (adductor) strains. We’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t had too many adductor injuries in our athletes. This is probably, at least in part, due to the hip mobility and hip muscle activation exercises we use.

We did have a couple athletes complain of adductor pain though, and they all had ONE thing in common:

OUTSTANDING ADDUCTOR FLEXIBILITY!

This trend flies in the face of the “you got hurt because you didn’t stretch or aren’t flexible enough” way of thinking.

In these athletes, we were able to resolve their pain relatively quickly, by having them STOP STRETCHING their adductors, start stretching their glutes a few times a day, and by doing isometric adductor strengthening exercises by crushing a medicine ball between their knees for time.

The rationale was simply that their adductors were weak relative to their abductors (to be overly simplistic: weak groin, strong glutes).

By stretching their glutes and strengthening their adductors, we were able to shift the strength and stiffness relationship between those muscles into more balance and get rid of their pain within a week or two.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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Today’s Thursday Throwback features 6 videos from Dr. John Berardi, the founder of Precision Nutrition. Dr. Berardi has been one of my go-to resources for nutrition information for the last 8 years. Not only does he stay on top of current research, but he’s the best in the industry at delivering nutrition information in a way that people will actually do it. I believe that most people have a general understanding of better and worse food choices, but few actually do. This seems to be a psychology/behavior change issue more than purely an information issue. This is really where Dr. Berardi excels. If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Berardi’s system, check out this link >> Precision Nutrition

If you’re looking for something more hockey-specific, be sure to check out Brian St. Pierre’s Ultimate Hockey Nutrition. Brian currently works for Precision Nutrition and delivers high quality nutrition information in ways that are easy for players at all ages to implement.

Ultimate Hockey Nutrition

6 AWESOME Nutrition Tips from Dr. Berardi

John Berardi is a brilliant nutritionist that has had a ton of success with a wide variety of people from elite athletes to non-athletes. His Precision Nutrition system is still the best nutrition product ever created. I think everyone should own a copy. For more information on Precision Nutrition, click here.

Below are 6 awesome videos of a TV interview that Dr. Berardi did with Christine Williams on the show “On The Line”. Take the time to watch these. Dr. Berardi goes through a lot of awesome nutrition strategies that will help you lose fat, and get lean and strong.

Part 1 – On The Line with Christine Williams
About me, my work, about the differences between athletes and recreational exercisers, and more…

 

Part 2 – On The Line With Christine Williams

How much protein should we eat, the body mass index, how to gauge progress, and more…

Part 3 – On The Line With Christine Williams

Advanced nutrition, healthy food/supplements, metabolism boosting foods, cravings, and more…

To learn more about how Precision Nutrition can help you get in the best shape of your life, click here.

Part 4 – On The Line With Christine Williams

Cutting cravings, metabolic slowdown with age, healthy recipes, fruits and veggies, and more…

Part 5 – On The Line With Christine Williams

Metabolism preservation, ideal rate of progress, crash dieting, loose skin, and we take some calls…

Part 6 – On The Line With Christine Williams

How to exercise, exercise for seniors, day 1 of your program, and more…


To learn more about how Precision Nutrition can help you get in the best shape of your life, click here.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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In this week’s “Thursday Throwback”, I wanted to share another article from 2009 that highlights the progressive differences in fundamental lower body movement patterns and how force production from the involved musculature shifts as body angles change. This idea has been described using different terminology over the last several years, including Mike Boyle’s classification as exercises being more “knee-dominant” or “hip-dominant” or what I describe in Ultimate Hockey Training, simply, as lower body pushing or pulling patterns. Terminology aside, it’s important to recognize how subtle changes in body angle changed the emphasized musculature so that you can choose exercises based on the specific result you want. If you have any comments/questions, please post them below. Enjoy!

Fundamental Lower Body Movement Patterns

This Summer I started working with a ton of new athletes at Endeavor Sports Performance.  These athletes had been training, but not with me.

Part of building a solid training base is learning the three fundamental lower body movement patterns:

Stiff-Legged Deadlift
The stiff-legged deadlift (SLDL) is largely a hip-dominant movement.  You’ll maintain a slight knee bend, but the entire movement involves tilting the pelvis forward, then using your glutes and hamstrings to pull yourself back upright.  The emphasis is almost entirely on the glutes and hamstrings.

Deadlift
The deadlift pattern is similar to the stiff-legged version in that it involves tilting the pelvis forward as far as possible, but is different from the SLDL in that it involves a deeper bend of the knees.  A bend of the knees means more force production from the quadriceps.

Squat
You’re probably picking up on the trend here.  The squat pattern uses slightly less forward tilting of the hips and slightly more knee bend, which involves more force production from the quads relative to the SLDL and deadlift patterns.

These differences in loading emphasis are pretty clearly illustrated by noting the maximal forward hip/torso angle in the “down” position of these exercises.  During the SLDL, the torso is almost parallel to the ground.  During the deadlift, the torso is slightly above parallel.  During the squat, the torso is slightly more vertical than the deadlift.  And during a front squat pattern, the torso is almost completely vertical.

It generally takes less than a month for the majority of my athletes to master these movements.  Then it’s time to “load the hell out of them” and get them strong!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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“…one of the best DVDs I’ve ever watched”
“A must for anyone interested in coaching and performance!”

Optimizing Movement DVD Package

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