Dec 182009

I’m frequently asked when players should stretch and what types of stretching they should do. The answer I usually give to both of those questions is, “It depends.”

It depends on a number of factors: Is it for before practice? After games? At home? All of these questions need to be addressed before giving advice on proper stretching protocols.

Stretching is very important to any hockey player. Over time, if you aren’t stretching frequently, overuse injuries, such as muscle strains and pulls, can occur because your muscles are too tight.

In hockey, the muscles that have a greater chance of being injured include the adductors, hip flexors and lower back. That’s because hockey players skate with their knees, hips and spine bent. When they’re not on the ice, they’re usually sitting on the bench while they wait for their next shift or they’re sitting in their locker room stalls during intermissions.
The movements performed in hockey, combined with prolonged sitting, can contribute to the shortening of the muscles in your body. To prevent this from happening, some simple daily stretching techniques need to be implemented into your off-ice program.

Dynamic Stretching: This is done before practices and games, and it’s characterized by simply executing different types of movements. We really refer to it as our “Dynamic Warm-up.” During this time, the athlete is actively stretching and warming up the muscles used in that particular movement. We might do a specific exercise, such as a body-weight squat, for 8-10 reps.

Active Isolated Stretching: Founded and endorsed by massage therapist Aaron Mattes, this type of stretch we do within our strength-training workouts and with individuals who may need extra attention on certain muscle groups. When we’re in a strength-training sessions, we’ll always stretch the opposite muscle group of the one we’re strength training between sets. For example, if we’re working our upper-back muscles in an exercise such as a chin-up, we’d active isolate stretch our chest muscles between sets. Here, we hold the stretch for six seconds, relax, and repeat. We do three repetitions.

Static Stretching: This is usually what people refer to when they think of traditional stretching. Here, we hold our stretches for a period of 20-30 seconds. Again, we’ll stretch our groins and hip flexors, as well as other muscle groups that can traditionally become tight in hockey players such as the IT bands, quads, hamstrings and chest. Static stretching is done primarily after practices and games, because when you stretch after activity, it’ll help bring the muscles back to a lengthened state after being used in the game or practice.

What I’ve learned about stretching is that it shouldn’t be too easy; it should be almost uncomfortable, but not painful. Most people will stretch within their comfort zone and work muscles that don’t need to be stretched, while the ones that do are often neglected.

No matter what method you use or when you use it, stretching can be very beneficial for the overall performance and well being of a hockey player.

Nov 252009

In the spring of 2004, I took a course called “The Janda Approach to Musculoskeletal Pain Syndromes”. It was a 2-day course and I was the only strength and conditioning coach there in a room full of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. The course was given by Physical Therapist Clare Frank. Although, I did feel that the information was way over my head at times, Clare was very helpful in helping me understand the concepts that were taught. I was very impressed with her passion that she has for Vladimir Janda’s work. I really learned a lot of information at that seminar and have been able to apply some of the concepts with my athletes. 

Clare has written a book Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance: The Janda Approach.   It is due out in late December.  I really look forward to getting this book as I think it will be an excellent resource for any Strength and Conditioning Coach, Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer, Massage Therapist, etc.  Check out her site-

Nov 232009

The Glute Bridge is a huge part of our daily program. We are always re-educating our guys on the glute bridge and it’s successive progressions. In our minds, the more we do exercises that isolate and strengthen the glutes, the less chance we have of getting injured. This is a glute isolation exercises that we do as part of warm up. We have always started with 8 reps of 3 second hold. Our focus is now on sustaining more of an isometric contraction for longer periods of time. Now, we will start with 3 reps of 10 second holds.

Nov 082009

A day late with the random thoughts for the week, but here we go:

1- A great article was posted on this week on  Nate Green’s interview with Bret Contreras was really good.  I’ve read a lot of Bret’s posts on  He is a really smart guy who has really got me interested more in supine hip extensions.  Specifically, how to load it properly.  In addition to all the glute activation exercises that we do, we’re always looking for ways to load hip extension without the spinal loading.  Bret is on to something here.

2- I have just completed week 7 of Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 training program.  (Sorrry, but it is modified due to my continous low back pain- I don’t deadlift or squat).  I really like it because it is really easy to implement and make progress with.  So far, so good.  It is a simple, yet effective program.


3- Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, and Bill Hartman, have an excellent product in Assess and Correct- Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.  I’ve started to read this as I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy.  This is really good information.  Every evaluation seems to be really easy to implement into your program.  Also, there are corrective exercises to address any dysfunctions.  These guys do a great job of bridging the gap between strength and conditioning coaches and physical therapists while also making it easy for guys like me to understand.

Nov 042009

n92801925665_5507Part of what I want to do here on the blog is to let my readers know of some websites that I check out and find to be valuable resources in the Strength and Conditioning field.  The sites that I will recommend will always be sites that I endorse based on the fact that I think they are great places to get information.

SB Coaches College is a site that was founded by Strength and Conditioning Coaches Shawn Windle, Brijesh Patel, and Robb Rogers. Shawn is currently the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Indiana Pacers. Brijesh is currently the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Quinnipiac University. Rob is now working for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. All of these guys are very good and very bright strength and conditioning coaches who I have gotten to know over the last couple of years. They are also really good guys.

The site contains several well written articles, programs, and power point presentations, as well as a store where you can buy some of their products.
Check it out at

Nov 022009

Here is a video of one of our abduction exercises that we do within our core/torso program. With the constant use of our adductors and other internal rotators of the hip, we feel that we need to strengthen abductors to make their that there is adequate muscle balance at the hip joint to prevent injuries. We will do 2 sets of 10 reps with a 3 second hold at the top.

The coaching cues are for the athlete to keep their legs straight with the top leg slightly behind the bottom leg with the toe pointed down. The upper body is to remain perpendicular to the floor.

Oct 302009

I’ve decided to get on the bandwagon of posting some of the things I have been thinking about and have done during the past week in addition to my coaching responsibilities.  I will try and update every Friday.  So here it goes:

1-      The P90X may be the best workout system that I have seen advertised on television (Perfect Pull Up is second).  A few of my friends have started the program.   What I like about it is the organization of the program and most importantly, you are required to move.  Although, I don’t think I would use it with my athletes, I think it is great for people who need a regimented routine. 

2-      I read the book  Crush It- Why Now is the time to cash in on your Passion, by Gary Vaynerchuck.  I actually finished it in a day.  I really like the concepts described in the book to help utilize social media.  What I also really like is the fact that the author explains that by having a passion for something and applying hard work, you can see positive results.   Kind of a breath of fresh air to read a book where they promote hard work.   I’ve actually taken action on a few of the tips in the book. 

3-      Strength Coach and friend, Mike Boyle, has released his Functional Strength Coach 3.0.  I got mine yesterday and watched the first dvd last night.  As usual, Mike has done it again by releasing a great product.  It seems like Mike is always one step ahead when it comes down to program design implementation and progression.  I look forward to watching the rest of them. 

4-      On T-muscle this week, there was another great article called “Bigger, Better, Faster, Longer” featuring an interview with Dan John.  Dan is a really good writer and seems to be an even better coach. 

5-      Speaking of Mike Boyle, check out this funny video Anthony Renna put together.

That’s it.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great weekend.

Oct 282009


My good friend Anthony Renna has done an unbelievable job with the Strengthcoach Podcast. To me, it has been a great educational resource. I usually try to listen to it on my ipod or I will put them on cd’s for my car.  I was very fortunate to be interviewed on episode 1 back in September of 2007. You can access my interview and all of the episodes of the StrengthCoach Podcast at