Building the Training Session
The primary training purposes at each level can also be used to construct a training session template. Templates are helpful in dictating the flow of the training session. It is often the case that the facility is (or should be) set up so that athletes move from one area to the other. Especially with relatively large groups and overlapping training schedules, it’s important that suboptimal space is used efficiently. Using a training template that is designed using a logical progression through physical qualities (e.g. power before conditioning) and driving the flow through the session is a great starting place. It also provides a means of replacing exercises if equipment is not available. For example, if “C1” on a program is a suspended row, and the suspended row handles are unavailable, you can return back to the template, which would read either “Upper Body Pull” or “Horizontal Pull” and swap it out for a similar exercise. Similarly, understanding the intended physical quality or pattern will help make it that much easier for a coach to instantaneously regress or progress an exercise based on an individual player’s needs.
In our case, we utilized the following templates:
GROUP A (’02’00)
GROUP B (’99-’97)
GROUP C (16U-18U)
In each case, the template can be justified by or directly related to the primary purposes for the given group.
In the purest sense, training periodization refers to the purposeful alteration of the imposed stresses to the body. Periodization is necessary to optimize both development and recovery. While there are several periodization models out there, most have been designed in the interest of helping extremely well-trained “elite” athletes continue to break plateaus. In other words, they’re largely irrelevant when it comes to training youth hockey players with minimal training backgrounds. In general, the periodization model we follow can be described as “emphasized concurrent” as multiple physical qualities are trained simultaneously, with either linear or undulating progressions depending on the level. Describing the program as fitting a particular model can be misleading as the program may seemingly focus on only one quality (e.g. strength), but in reality considers the other qualities emphasized on the ice (e.g. speed, conditioning, etc.). If you’re not familiar with the terminology, don’t let it confuse you. The important considerations are:
In both Group B and Group C, each 4-week phase alternates between having a slightly greater volume (e.g. accumulation phase) and intensity emphasis (e.g. intensification phase).
An underlying goal of training at each level is to prepare the player to meet the expectations at the next level. Younger players need to master the process and body weight exercises before moving on to external resistance. The middle group needs internalize the importance of warming up and develop proficiency at the basic lifts before progressing to more advanced exercises. The older group will be well-prepared for the rigors of a long junior season and/or the expectations of a collegiate strength and conditioning program after spending a year or two following a comprehensive program that includes a significant amount of practice in more advanced exercises (e.g. single-leg variations, Olympic lifts, etc.).
At all levels, it’s important to recognize the stresses the players face while playing. In most cases, the physical qualities that are emphasized most on the ice do not need to be a large emphasis off the ice. In fact, typically specific precautions need to be taken to facilitate recovery from these stresses and restore structural balance. This is especially true as players progress through the levels and accumulate more wear and tear. More than anything else, it’s important that players are taught PROPER movement and positioning. Remember, it’s important to move well before moving quickly or often.
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To your success,
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.