Before this past Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to talk training with Jim Snider, the men’s hockey teams’ strength and conditioning coach. Jim is a really bright coach who has done a great job while working with current and former Badgers over the years.
As we were talking, we got into a conversation about squats. Jim said “Better skaters are good squatters.” I totally agree with him. When I think about some of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with over the years that were fast, explosive, and low to the ice skaters, it’s not hard for me to think about guys like Selanne and Kariya (although I never got to work with them at the same time (I wish I did). These guys absolutely loved to squat and in fact- had to squat during the season.
Now, was it their ability to squat well that helped them skate great? Or was it their ability to skate great that made them good squatters? I’m not sure but I do know that for those guys, they were back squatting way before I knew them. In fact, Teemu was learning how to squat and Olympic lift with broomsticks when he was 8 years old!
The point of the post is not too say that hockey players need to put lots of weight on the bar and start performing heavy back squats. However, the movement of squatting bilaterally shouldn’t be neglected in training or ignored. Even though our program consists of many variations of single leg exercises, we will squat bilaterally in warm up often and we will front squat during the off-season and perform clean+front squat combos. I really believe that squatting well and squatting often will help any hockey player not only produce more force into the ice but also help maintain a lower center of gravity for longer periods of time.