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Programming

Content specific to exercise protocol and design.

There is currently a limited amount of information for the sport performance coach pertaining to stride mechanics and bio-motor mechanisms in competitive ice hockey.  The goal of this article is to briefly outline several research articles that may be used by professionals to steer decision making and/or gain a deeper understanding of the kinematic and bio-motor applications involved in the sport.  In other words, here is my brain dump!  A mixture of brief research findings sprinkled with some pragmatic takeaways.  Let’s start out by defining the hockey stride:

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When it comes to programming for ice hockey we must ask ourselves…what qualities matter most in sport competition?  In other words, what qualities can we train off the ice, that make the most tangible differences on the ice?  What abilities make great players great?   In order to answer these questions, a good place to start is to look at some of the existing literature and attempt to see what correlates best with on-ice performance. 

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I must admit that I’m a principle oriented strength coach.  In other words, our principles dictate our program design and the way we train our athletes.  Our programs are basic in nature but every working part has a rhyme and reason set firmly on a foundation of what we call the BIG three. 

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I’ve been involved in the game of hockey my entire life, first as a player and now as a strength coach.  I remember the demands of testing, the competition amongst teammates and the feeling of self-satisfaction after the effort of exertion.  Testing was, and still is a rewarding time for me.  Looking back, one protocol that has stood the test of time, both past and present, in the sport of ice hockey is the 300-yard shuttle.  I endured this test for many years as a player, and have had it in my coaching arsenal during testing day to see “who was in shape” and ready for the demands of a long, drawn out, grinding season packed with 30mph collisions and large amounts of travel.   However, just like everything else in the biological sciences, the more you learn, the more you question yourself, the more you question your methods, the more you question common practice.  After all common practice doesn’t always equate to best practice.  Below are three reasons we no longer test the 300-yard shuttle at DSC. 

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The sport of hockey is extremely demanding.  Players reaching speeds of up to 30mph is the equivalent of hundreds of small car crashes occurring throughout the course of a 7-8 month season.  Physiological, psychological and mechanical stressors mount during this time.  It is during this period that the strength and conditioning practitioner faces a major challenge; the law of competing demands; In other words, how to balance stress so that players performs optimally when it matters most on the ice.  This job changes during the off-season when the major stressors of competition are removed.  The off-season, although often limited in time, is paramount in terms of physical preparation and the application of additional stressors that may not be appropriate during the period of intense competition. 

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