Random Thoughts

I get into ruts sometimes about writing.  Often,  I can’t look at the screen and start to write when I have no clue of what I want to write about.  Here though, I am going to borrow from some (such as Eric and Charlie) who consistently  post their “Random Thoughts”:

-          I am enjoying my new opportunity in the Strength and Conditioning profession. The pre-season is imperative for the teams’ long term success.  The kids are buying in and they all have an unbelievable work ethic.

-          Since when (and this could be an article in itself) did Strength and Conditioning Coaches not be considered to be sport scientists? Aren’t we evaluating and monitoring our athletes on a daily basis?  I think that personal communication with athletes is huge.  Is there a disconnect between applying sports science and personal and effective communication with athletes?  I like testing and measuring my athletes and think it’s important to install change if necessary to individuals- but isn’t that coaching?

-          I remember at the end of my talk at the BSMPG conference back in 2012 when an attendee asked me “How do you measure fatigue?”  I don’t think that he (or probably lots of others in the audience) liked it when I told him that I communicate with and observe my athletes on a daily basis. I think that he was looking for what latest technological tool I was using.   I always ask how their days go, how things are going on at home, is there any changes that we think we should make to the program, etc.  However, I also see how technology and other methods can tighten things up and help us to do a better job.  I still think human interaction and coaching is key.  Would like to see those who blend sport science concepts and strength and conditioning concepts successfully in terms of wins and injury prevention because correct me if I’m wrong- There are lots of injuries still occurring and teams are still losing tons of games.

-          Years ago, I attempted to read the book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers by Dr. Robert Sapolsky.  Honestly, I either didn’t get it or I thought it was boring- probably both.   I proceeded to put it away and not even think about it for several years.  When I heard other coaches or people who are smarter than me talk about stress and the Autonomic Nervous system, I had a deaf ear.  Maybe because I thought what I was doing was pretty good.   But I was intrigued on what was others were talking about.  I’ve now read the book and continue to read some of the chapters again and again.  I have changed my perspective on how I apply a training program/stress to my athletes.


-          Is there a better method of applying stress to high level athletes than the High-Low method that was advocated by former Canadian Sprint Coach Charlie Francis?  To me, it makes too much sense.

-          Running tempo’s and applying work capacity/GPP work on “low” days will not make my fast athletes with high vertical jumps slow.

-          When I think of the best athletes that I have been lucky to have worked with, their personalities were real laid back at all times other than when practice or games are going on.  Do they just have a better system of managing stress? I don’t know.  But again, reading the book and looking at things a little bit differently have made me ask some questions- which is a good thing.

-           A recent Vern Gambetta blog post was really good in regards to voting for Strength and Conditioning coach of the year.  He is bang on here and I agree with him.  Should an award as such be based on votes and popularity?  How can you actually determine who the best coach is?  When I see SOME of the stuff on YouTube whether it be athletes performing circus tricks or having absolutely awful form on lifts with the intention of making it look like their athletes are strong; I don’t think it is good for the profession.  Would like to see coaches who get more with less get more recognition.

Hockey is a game that is played throughout the world by people of all ages and skill levels.  It is common for local ice rinks to have adult aged recreation leagues (some would refer to as beer leagues) in place.  There are enough people who enjoy the game that there are different divisions comprised with many teams at these rinks.

Over the last few years, I have been asked by other adult hockey league players- “How can I get in shape for hockey?” or, “Can you give me a program?”.  Usually I will give a general answer that may include instructions to add strength training and possibly change their diets.

What I want to share is a few simple things that can help people enjoy the game for as long as they can.  The ability to play hockey for it’s enjoyment and being pain-free is what has inspired me to write this piece.  I understand that some people may skate for about an hour per week.  However, I also see many folks who participate in multiple leagues and pick-up games on a weekly basis.  Also, I have come across several people who have sustained injuries both from acute and overuse nature.

The reality is that hockey is a fast paced game with frequent changes of direction.  Hips, backs, and knees can become sore and injured while playing.  Personally, I realize that as I get older, I need to be fit to play hockey instead of using hockey as a way to get fit.

Foam Rolling

First, I think it is important to invest in a foam roller.  These are now considered to be must-haves for all of the players that I work with.  I recommend a half foam roll because it can be used both at home and at the rink because it fits in a hockey bag.

Foam rolling is recommended to be done for a few minutes prior to stretching and warming up.  Players that I work with love the foam roll because they can address their muscle trigger points which are those little knots of tenderness that you may feel in different muscles.  The more that you use it, the more you will know where to use it on your body- especially when crunched for time.

Foam rolling is recommended for the quads, hip rotators, IT bands, glutes, hamstrings, pecs, lats, and any other muscle groups that you would need to address.


Static stretching should be done more often for the older hockey player. Not only should you stretch while at the rink, but you should stretch while at home as well.  You must think about all of the work that the muscles like the hip flexors, quads, and hip adductors do during the course of a hockey game.  The more games that you play, the more time you should spend stretching.  With the fact that many recreation level hockey players have jobs that require them to sit for long periods of time, stretching is even more important.

Stretches for the Hip Flexors, Rectus Fomoris’ (Quads), Adductors, and Hip Rotators can all be addressed during a short period of time.

Warm up

From a practical perspective, a proper warm up for a recreational hockey is hard to accomplish.  It is common for people to roll out of bed and head to the rink, or go to the rink immediately after work.  Although I understand that it can be difficult to get to the rink; there should be a semi-conscious effort to get to the rink a little earlier for a proper warm up.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that can be done for 5 minutes and can be either done in place or over 10-15 yard space.  If you have only a few minutes to warm up before you go on the ice, at minimum I would recommend the dynamic warm up.  Skip the foam rolling and static stretching, but don’t skip the dynamic warm up.

Knee Hug

Heel to Butt with Reach

1-Leg SLDL

Hip Rotator

Reverse Lunge

High Knee Run

Heel Ups

High Skip

Backwards Run

When you look at the time spent for foam rolling, stretching, and warming up, we are talking about maybe 15 minutes total.  Doing this prior to taking the ice will go a long way in preventing injuries.

Strength Training

Strength training for hockey can be an easy process.  It can help reduce the chance for injury while also increasing performance.  How many players do you know who would like to stay healthy and get faster on the ice?  While it may seem confusing due to a large number of exercise possibilities, it can be broken down to a really simple, yet effective method.

A few good exercises might be all that you need for a good strength training program.  Sure, high level athletes might want to add some plyometrics, sprints, and some Olympic lifts, but I think this is where we may draw the line.  The goal is to be a healthier and fitter hockey player that plays for fun.   Strength training can be done simply and have outstanding results.  Here is an example of a 2-day strength training schedule:

Day 1                                                             

Split Squat (Progress from body weight only to holding dumbbells)

Pull Up

Ball Roll Out

Push Up

Back Extension

Day 2

1-Leg Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (Progress from body weight only to holding dumbbells)

1-Arm DB Row


1-Leg DB Straight Leg Deadlift

DB Incline Bench Press

These strength training sessions could be done twice per week.  I would recommend 2-3 days between sessions.  The most important aspect of strength training is having proper technique in all exercises.  If you don’t know how to do an exercise properly, please get with someone who knows what they are doing.  Start light and do the exercises correctly.  Then as you get stronger, add some more weight and continue to progress.  Keep it simple.

Videos for the exercises listed above can be found at my youtube site- www.youtube.com/SeanSkahan

It’s been a long time since my last post to this site.  For those who know me, you know that I am in the process of a change within my career.  As  I make the transition from one coast to the other, I wanted to revisit and update the blog with something current.

A big reason why I haven’t been posting as consistently as I would like to is because I’ve been working on something else when time permits.  One of my goals has always been to write a book on training for hockey.  Well, it is now starting to become a reality. I also want to clean the dust off this blog and start posting again.

Total Hockey Training is due to be released by Human Kinetics in February 2016.  To say that I am excited is an understatement.  I really enjoy the grind of writing and re-writing as we go along until the finish. It will be available both as paperback and e-book.

I wanted to share a post that was written by my friend/mentor Mike Boyle on his blog StrengthCoachblog.com.  Mike has been posting really good content in regards to his thoughts against year-round specialization in youth sports.  I think it’s important to help spread the message all over North America- including here in Southern California.

It just seems that the more that I read what Mike has been sharing along with the fact that I continually speak to professional players about what additional sports they played as youths- the more I am convinced.  A multi-sport approach as a kid is beneficial in the long run when/if they decide to specialize on 1 sport.  For the record, I have spoken to only a few hockey players who didn’t play any other sports. Most “put the bag away” at the end of their hockey seasons.

Personally, in the past I have been guilty of putting my oldest son through the the concept of year-round hockey.  Whether it was spring selects or in-house hockey, more games were being played after a 7-month season.  (Yes- 7 months at age 8).  This spring/summer, after a few weeks off, he will be playing lacrosse while also still skating 1-2 times per week in non-competitive situations and competing in 2 weekend tournaments in May. Probably not a complete off-season, but a drastic change from the past.

Check out Mike’s article here- Be Careful With Advice from Armchair Experts

I hope everyone is doing great!  As we enter October, hockey season is in pre-season mode or in some cases; in-season mode is already taking place.  Either way, you got to love this time of year.

Here at HockeySC.com, we have had some really good content updates since my last post:


Shoulder Medial Rotation by Darryl Nelson


Partner Pro Agility by myself

Hip Internal Rotation with Reach by Darryl Nelson

On the forum, we have had some good discussions ongoing such as a discussion on training 8-10 year olds and some of the recent articles written about today’s off-season training done by some of today’s NHL players.  What is great about the forum is that there are always good questions and discussions about all different kinds of topics in regards to performance training for hockey.  Make sure you check out the forum when you log on.

Remember, if you are not a current member, you can try us out for $1 for 7 days.   If you don’t like it, you can cancel during that time.


It’s been a while since an update on HockeySC.com.  I hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks/days of your off-season.  Recently, we have had some excellent content additions:


Teaching Hockey Players How to Run by Max Prokopy

Anterior Glide of the Humerus by Darryl Nelson

Why I Never Played in the NHL, and How it Made Me Better by Brian Sipotz

Thoughts on the Kettlebell Swing by myself


Kettlebell Kneeling to Standing by Darryl Nelson

U-Mass Lowell Hockey Off-Season by Devan McConnell

Rotational Heiden Medicine Ball Throw by Darryl Nelson


Fall Training Program by Darryl Nelson


The forum has had some interesting topics such as the NHL combine and Trap Bar Deadlifts.

If you aren’t currently a member, feel free to try us for $1 for 7 days.


This was originally posted on StrengthCoach.com.

What is one thing you’ve changed your mind about in the past year?

One thing that I have changed my mind about in the past year is the value of making things simple.  This has become a priority for me as the more that I continue to be in this profession, the more I realize that it is ok to simplify things.  It is less about sets and reps (or the ability to know more about sets and reps) and more about providing a good basic program with good coaching skills. In my opinion, a good program on paper is a bad program if it is coached with bad people skills.  At the professional level, if you can’t get your athletes to do what you would like them to do on a consistent basis, then you don’t have much of a program- even if it contains the latest trends in strength and conditioning.

I am guilty of trying to incorporate every little bit of the latest information and protocols that I can learn.  However, when I cut out parts of the program and stick with the basics, I feel that our program is becoming more successful.  Maybe it’s just me but it seems that lifting sessions have become more enthusiastically embraced by my players.  Time is never wasted and lifting sessions include crisper lifts. To me it is better than having athletes who are performing more exercises but might just be going through the motions.  I think any coach who works with teams would be able to relate.

My own training has also been simplified.  The more information that I read from coaches such as Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline, I realize that it’s not only ok, but a good idea to simplify my training.  I am past the days of assistance exercises and specialization programs.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have specific goals.  The difference today is that my goals relate more to being strong enough and injury-free versus trying to bench or clean 3 plates per side.

I have also learned how to keep my continuing education simple.  In the past, I would feel left behind if I missed a seminar or two because of work or family responsibilities.  Now, I feel that I don’t have to attend every seminar and certification that is offered.  Believe me, I still have a beginners mind and I love learning and applying new ideas.  However, as a husband and a father of 2, I realize that my time with my family away from the weight room is very valuable.  If I only happen to get to 1-2 seminars per year, or not attain the latest cert; I am ok with that.

I can say that simplifying many areas in my life has helped me become a more open minded person and Strength and Conditioning Coach.  I feel like my life is less cluttered and I can see things more clearly.

My friend Maria Mountain shared this with me.  I must admit that I have never done too much “goalie-specific” work with goalies in the past.  However, this first video makes me re-think some things.  I can see using this on lateral days in the off-season.

Two Off-Ice Drills That Gave A Goalie Trouble

By Maria Mountain

I remember studying for my Matrix Algebra exam in first year of university.  I somehow convinced myself that the really tough questions were too hard and would never find their way onto the exam paper.  Wow – was I wrong!

I was making the same mistake lots of hockey players make in the gym all the time.  I was working on the things I was good at and discounting the things that gave me trouble.  In today’s video I want to share two exercises that gave a goalie real trouble during a training session this summer.

This goalie was in great shape, was a great athlete, but had these deficiencies that he wasn’t even aware of. You probably have a few as well.

So watch the video to see what I mean and how we corrected his patterns – I bet the changes we made to the first exercise probably helped him bump his save percentage up.

HERE IS THE VIDEO LINK – -  http://youtu.be/jQ8ud17Jcgg

So don’t ignore your strengths, but when you find something that gives you trouble, take the time to clean it up.

Happy training.




A full time strength and conditioning coach who specializes in training hockey skaters and goalies, Maria Mountain is the founder of Revolution Sport Conditioning in London, ON and www.HockeyTrainingPro.com

Hey everyone- I just wanted to take a few minutes to update you on what’s going on at HockeySC.com.  Obviously, the hockey season is in full swing.  The site has been updated with new articles, videos, programs, and forum topics pretty frequently.  Also, we are in the works in getting the Hockey Strength Podcast back up and running.  We are planning on talking to lots of the site contributors on future episodes.  Stay tuned.

Here is what has been posted during the past few weeks:


ImPact Test-Retest Reliability by Jacob Resch

Excel Programming for Dummies by Kevin Neeld

Feed the Dog: The Importance of Discipline by Anthony Donskov

Grain Brain by Darryl Nelson

Pre-Season Training for Professional Hockey by me

Does an Individual’s Fitness Level Affect Baseline Concussion Symptoms? By Martin Mrazik


U-Mass Lowell Pre-Season Training by Devan McConnel

Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey Aerobic Circuit by Brijesh Patel

Anterior Core Bracing by Brian Sipotz and Darryl Nelson

Lower Trap and Rhomboid Activation by Darryl Nelson

Deadbug with Static Upper Body by Kevin Neeld


In-Season Training: Phase 1 by Kevin Neeld

Summer Camp 2013 Itinerary by me

We also have some current ongoing discussions on our forum including topics such as HRV, Late specialization, on-ice testing, and PRI amongst others.

We really think that we have the best site on the internet for hockey strength and conditioning.  If you aren’t a member, you can try us for 7 days for $1.

See you at the rink!


I have always been a proponent of implementing cross-ice only games at the mite level of hockey.  I believe in what USA Hockey is doing through the American Developmental Model (ADM) and I am a big believer in young hockey players also being young “insert another sport here” players.  Also, I believe that young kids shouldn’t subject themselves to the same rink specifications of NHL or international leagues.   Although I also believe in practicing what you preach, I must admit that I am guilty of questioning whether or not cross-ice games would be good for my own son.

My son started to learn how to skate when he was 3.  He participated in learn to skate and hockey programs and then began playing cross ice at age 4.  When he was 5, he played at the full-ice mite recreation level.  The year after that, he played at the travel full-ice level.   Although he played in 2 complete years of full-ice hockey, he also competed in several full-ice tournaments.   While his games were played in the full-ice format, all of his practices consisted of drills and games done in small areas.  Practices were done twice per week and they always followed the ADM principles.

At the time, I though the progression was fine.  My son is a little bigger than most of the other kids his age and I would consider him to be average to above average in skill and skating.  To him, it seemed like full-ice hockey wasn’t a big deal.

After his first year of travel hockey, we found out what was going to take place this season- one half of his games the season are going to be played in the cross-ice format, and one half of the season is going to be the full-ice format.  This is taking place because USA Hockey is mandating that mite level hockey is all cross-ice.  However, there is a transition period going from full-ice hockey to cross-ice hockey so kids in my son’s age group who have played full ice don’t have to make such a drastic transition.  For my son, the reality is that because of his birth year, he must participate in this.  If he was a year older, he would be eligible to play up to the next level.  For him, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing and most importantly, he could care less.

After much anticipation and wondering how it was going to go, we played in a recent cross-ice holiday weekend tournament.  After watching the tournament, I wanted to share my thoughts (Again, this is all new to a large group of kids around southern California):


-     More time with the puck- It seemed like the puck came to all of the players more frequently while more aggressive players got the puck much more

-     Players had more opportunities to display individual skills.  Kids had more opportunities to make moves and beat their opponents one on one

-     Quicker decisions- The game was fast and it seemed like there wasn’t much room to make plays.  Kids had to make quick plays

-     One minute and 30 second shifts which were controlled by the sound of a buzzer- This was great.  Equal ice time for everyone and both teams changed at the same time.  Brilliant.

-     No off-sides calls- I do like this even though the kids aren’t learning the off-sides rule.

-     Kids seemed much more confident with the puck- Don’t know if it was because of playing against a weaker team or not, but was still good.


-     When the puck went out of play, the clock kept ticking.  The ref didn’t have a back-up puck to continue play

-     The higher skilled players are still the higher skilled players.  Yes, the lower skilled players got more puck possession time, but the higher skilled players still touched the puck much more.  The higher skilled players still scored the most goals but I will say that since puck possession seemed higher per player, everyone had more opportunity to score goals

-     Lots of goals were scored and there were face-offs immediately after each goal.  Retrieving the puck and conducting a face-off is time consuming.  I like the pick-up hockey format where the team that gets scored on plays the puck out of their net.  This would allow play to keep moving.  If the score isn’t being kept, then who cares?

-     Growing pains are going to happen.  There were many times when it seemed like the facility was trying to figure it out while it was going on.  For example, some referees didn’t know some of the rules and the locker room situation was crammed.  I guess if you have 4 teams playing on the ice at once, you will need more locker room space.

All in all, I think this is going to be great.  There are lots of concerns from parents about possibly delaying their sons/daughters development.  However, when I offer my opinion on this, I tell them to think long term.  Don’t worry about their child being the best mite but rather think about him being the best bantam or midget.  When I think about my own son, I think he will benefit from this.  Since he is already a little bigger than most of the kids, he will learn how to handle the puck in small areas under pressure from the smaller and quicker players.  When I think about how much more time that he will have the puck on his stick versus times in a full-ice situation, it is a no-brainer.  Also, I don’t think 4 months out of their hockey development where they are put in competitive situations that suits their abilities is going to hurt them.  It can only make them better- especially when they return to full ice competition.

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