The Three Things Every Beer League Hockey Player Wants…
There are three things you can give a beer league hockey player that will make them your friend for life – and no, it isn’t BEER.
Beer league hockey players are some of the most passionate recreational athletes you will ever find – they know they are not going to the NHL (well most of them know anyway), but they still dream of winning their version of the Stanley Cup and many of them are prepared to do what it takes.
So, the next time you are training with your favorite beer leaguer -give them the gifts of mobility, stability and functional strength with these three simple exercises, that they can even do at home if they have resistance band.
You might be surprised that it is not some sort of hip stretch, but I know if you are reading Dan’s blog that you are quite a few notches above ‘average’ so I trust that you have already looked after that.
Let’s look up the chain a bit to their thoracic spine. Most hockey players are stiff in their thoracic spine in part due to the position on the ice and in part due to poor posture the other 15 waking hours of the day.
Hockey demands a good amount trunk rotation, not just when shooting, but also when skating and looking for your winger or keeping an eye out for the D-man just hoping to catch you with your head down.
So let’s make sure you are getting most of that from the portion of you spine that is designed for nice rotation – the thoracic spine, this will help spare your lumbar spine the added wear and tear.
Quadruped T-Spine Rotation is a great exercise to start with, but I want you to do something a little different. I want you to add a breathing component to it.
So as the player rotates his thoracic spine, get him to breathe in all the way up – breathe in and rotate to a count of four. Cue them to take in as much air as possible, expanding the rib cage and abdomen. As they rotate back down to the starting position, have them exhale to the count of 6. Have them do 6 reps on each side.
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So now they are actually experiencing a full breath, you will be surprised at how difficult it will be for some of them to stick with the tempo. That expansion of the rib cage upon inhalation will further improve the thoracic spine mobility.
I know you have already looked after static stability with planks and their variations, so now try integrating the hips and torso to stabilize against dynamic movements with the upper body? Why the heck not?
That is exactly what the Inline 1/2 Kneeling Chop delivers to a hockey player (and this is one I routinely use with the Junior and Pro players I train as well).
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When the player gets into the 1/2 kneeling position, make sure their front foot and back foot are directly inline – that means one is directly in front of the other. Your players will cheat on this big time and then look at you like ‘Uh, YOU said this was hard. This is easy for ME’.
Once they have the inline position, cue them to stay tall in their torso. They will grab either a resistance band or cable column just above shoulder height. The foot closest to the cable or anchor point of the resistance band will be forward.
Using both hands, have them chop from just above shoulder height on one side to hip level on the opposite side, so it will be a down and across pattern. Make sure they pause at the top and bottom to establish stability before making the next movement.
Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps each way.
Of the hundreds of strengthening exercises you can use to help hockey players get the powerful skating legs of a Sidney Crosby, I love this one for the beer leaguers because it helps them get the feel of using their glutes, of pushing through a full stride, while keeping them in a low skating position.
Just like the AAA players, once a beer leaguer gets some burning in their legs, they are going to want to stand up, thus giving up their power (and speed) potential.
I haven’t even mentioned the great hip stabilization workout that the ‘non-working’ leg is going to get.
The Low Strider can be done with a simple resistance band or low cable column. The player will position himself at about a 20 degree angle to the line of pull (the video shows it well), to more closely mimic the direction of push and so the band or cable are not sawing across their leg with each rep.
If the cable or resistance band is attached to the left leg, the weight stack or attachment point should be on the player’s right. Have them get low in the legs and stay there; they will not pop up and down with each rep. My goal is to have the player hold a 70-90 degree angle at the knee (I might let the beer leaguers creep up toward the 70 degree position).
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The knee on the ‘non-working’ side should stay pointing straight ahead, it should not be wiggling in and out with each rep as the player strides. Make sure they are getting a full push with each rep.
Start with 3 sets of 12 reps on each side, but adjust that based on what the player needs – muscular endurance, stability or strength.
So, now that you have a friend for life – count yourself very lucky because I have worked with hundreds if not thousands of hockey players over the years and you will not find a more loyal friend than a hockey player.
Whether she’s training Olympic Gold Medalists, kids at hockey camps, or Stanley Cup champs, Maria Mountain has one goal: to help athletes live their dreams. At her gym, Revolution Sport Conditioning in London, Ontario, Maria designs quality training programs for pro athletes and weekend warriors alike. Online, Maria helps hockey players around the world win more games with fewer injuries at HockeyTrainingPro.com.