Here is a short video of some hip hinging exercises and progressions that work for me. These have been great when working with kids in a large group setting.
This week’s video is the Keiser Reverse Lunge to Row
This week’s video of the week is the Split Squat Jump
I want to start posting videos of exercises that I use with my athletes. This video is the Hurdle Over/Under. Let me know what you think.
Today is the official release date of my book Total Hockey Training. I can’t believe that today is actually here. The reality is that there were several days when I thought that this wasn’t going to happen. Whether it was self-doubt or I didn’t feel that I had enough time to hit certain deadlines, the completion of this always seemed way down the road.
I had the goal of writing a book about hockey strength and conditioning by the time I was 40 years old with an actual publisher. The reason why I wanted to go that route is because of a few reasons:
– I didn’t trust my writing ability. I didn’t want to make an e-book that may have contained grammatical mistakes. The people at Human Kinetics take care of those things for a living.
– I remember a conversation with a friend of mine back in California several years ago about internet gurus and e-books. I remember him saying “Unless a sports or strength training book is published by a reputable publisher such as Human Kinetics, I won’t pick it up.” Now, I am not saying that e-books aren’t any good or worth the read but, hearing him say that always stuck with me. I trusted Human Kinetics to help me create a solid product that I believed in.
– I wanted the challenge of going through the process from start to finish. I wanted to go through this to accomplish something big. As a result, I can say that I have a huge amount of respect admiration for anyone that has written a book.
Total Hockey Training encompasses everything I’ve learned over the years training the beginner to the professional hockey player.
A recent email exchange with some parents and coaches from a youth team that I worked with in the past inspired me to write this.
I was originally told by a parent that a person suggested that the team should participate in a 20-30 minute yoga session for a pre-practice/game warm up. The parent was concerned and asked- isn’t yoga a “static” exercise and shouldn’t they be doing something to help warm up their bodies properly instead of a cooldown?
The reality is that I like yoga for hockey players- just not right before they start practice or a game. I like yoga from a perspective of using it to help athletes recover. For example, during the off-season we may strength train and condition on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I would certainly recommend yoga on Wednesdays and Saturdays to help them recover from the previous workouts and recharge before the next one.
The yoga mentioned above is what most would consider yoga to be- a class like setting where they are doing yoga poses for an hour or so. That is something I wouldn’t recommend before practice. However, I don’t think it is a bad thing to utilize some yoga poses for a few minutes prior to performing a dynamic warm up before practices/games. Yoga poses such as Upward-Facing Dog and TableTop are good poses that can be looked at positively since they are opposite of the position that hockey players are always in. These could be performed prior to the dynamic warm up.
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.
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. I use Abacus before I step on the ice for about 15 minutes on my arms, legs and back just to stretch the muscles and feel better so that once I am on the ice, I have no fear of sudden cramps or catch in my muscles during the game.
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.
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.
Heel to Butt with Reach
High Knee 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 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:
Split Squat (Progress from body weight only to holding dumbbells)
Ball Roll Out
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