Off-Season Training… (Part 2) – Creating Stability and Power in Hockey Players

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

BB_Hip_Bridge

In today’s post we are covering Part 2 of Off-Season Training for Hockey Players.  In case you missed Part 1 please click here.

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote, “the hip is to the hockey player as the shoulder is to the baseball player. Unless you want a short hockey season, you need to take care of it.” I guess, I am saying it again.

With hockey players, the hip is everything. Name a great hockey player and I will guarantee you a strong and powerful hip. A complete off-season hockey program should include these 4 “bang for the buck” exercises.

First, let’s take a look at the two areas of the hips we are focusing on. They are the posterior chain (glutes, adductor magnus and hamstrings) and the hip flexor/adductors (psoas, adductor longus, pectineus and brevis).

Posteriror chain Hip flexors adductors

Strengthening the posterior chain and the flexor/adductors will not only help with making a hockey player more explosive, it will help prevent strains in the smaller hip flexor muscles by strengthening the bigger flexors such as the psoas and longus.

Second, strengthening the core musculature will create a more stable ground of support and help take some of the stress off of the hips and spine during explosive, athletic movements. Let’s take a look at why.

All movement is generated from the core so trying to be explosive with an imbalanced or weak core is according to Gray Cook like “trying to shoot a cannon out of a canoe”.

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The core is comprised of 4 major muscles: The rectus abdominus, the internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominus.

Cressey ab chart

With the great work that The Postural Rehabilitation Institute (PRI) is doing in regards to breathing and the diaphragm, I would consider it the fifth major muscle of the core but for the scope of this article I’m going to address the top four. Dr. Stuart McGill refers to these 4 muscles as “nature’s weight belt”. They are major players in creating deep abdominal stabilization and holding the spine in place during explosive/athletic movements (in other words taking the cannon out of the canoe and shooting it from the ground!!).

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With that said, let’s get to the good stuff. Let me start by saying that a thorough assessment should be done to ensure that a hockey player is even ready to perform these exercises.

Barbell Hip Bridges:

These are great exercises to help create stability and explosiveness of the hips in the sagittal plane (front to back) by focusing on the glutes and hamstrings.

 

Slideboard Sprints:

Slideboards create stability and power in the frontal plane (side to side) by working on strengthening the abductor of the push-off leg, as well as the adductor of the leading leg. Here Bay State Breaker Hockey program’s Greg Helbeck shows us how.

 

Med. Ball Shovel Pass:

Shovel passes are a great exercise to work on a hockey player’s rotational core power as well as the transfer of body weight from back foot to front. Suffern Hockey’s Kevin Hill demonstrates below:

 

Reverse Crunches:

We use reverse crunches at RPP to strengthen the external obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus (we call them “sagittal” abs). These are major players in creating “flexion” but also are big players in controlling “extension” as well as helping the diaphragm to control breathing.

 

These exercises, performed as part of a thorough exercise program can help produce some “big bang for the buck” results in regards to a hockey player’s mobility, stability and overall power as well as creating symmetry in the hips, pelvis and core.

These exercises are a few of the many “staple” exercises we use here at RPP to develop power and stability in our athletes.  Come check us out whether you’re in-season or off-season and try these on for size (no pun intended) but don’t forget to “train hard, but train smart”.

The RPP Skaters Program is a complete top to bottom off-season protocol for ages 13+.  It is comprised of 8-week training programs, meeting 2x per week for a total of 16 sessions in each eight week cycle.  The programs begin in March and end in September just before the start of the new high school season.  Please register by clicking here if you are interested.


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