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Coaching Development

Content aimed to assist strength coaches and fitness professionals to become a leader in the industry.

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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The hockey stride has been described by bio-mechanists as biphasic in nature consisting of alternating periods of single leg and double leg support.  The single support phase corresponds to a period of glide, while the double support phase corresponds to the onset and preparation of propulsion (Marino, 1977).  Ankle mobility may play a role at increasing stride efficiency.  Increased range of motion, in particular dorsiflexion (think toes pointed up towards the sky), may aid the skater in assuming a lower skating position, thus reducing air resistance, while simultaneously increasing impulse, or the time the player has to produce force.  In addition, pre-stretching the achilleas may increase kinetic energy thus increasing propulsion.  Using electrogoniometers, researchers measured foot kinematics on the ice during a parallel start from defensive-zone face-off circle to offensive zone face-off circle.  The acceleration phase occurred during the first 5 steps with steps 6-10 representing steady state.  The following findings were recorded based on the average measurements of the sample size:  (Pearsall et al., 2001)

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In my opinion, it’s extremely important to understand the tools of the trade for various sports and their requisite performance underpinnings.  In the world of hockey, perhaps no tool is as important as a player’s choice in both skates and sticks.  The hockey skate consists of a hard-outer shell, a rigid toe box to withstand the velocity of flying pucks/sticks, a padded tongue, which may, or may not be manipulated for increased range of motion, an Achilles guard, heel counter and skate blade. 

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 The purpose of this brief article is to explain our testing rationale for the hockey playing population at Donskov Strength and Conditioning.  Each respective practitioner has his/her own unique reality.  The goal is to allow one’s unique reality to dictate the model used for the planning of training, monitoring and testing.  All models are wrong, some are more useful than others.  When it comes to testing, I tend to ask myself the following questions: 1.) What test(s) are the most relevant for our hockey players?  What testing resources do I have at my disposal?  Do I have access to ice?  How long do I have to work with the athlete?  How much time, away from programming do I want to allot for testing?  Is testing necessary? 

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Although each child develops uniquely based on their individual genes and environment, young children should not be viewed as miniature adults, neither from a cognitive or physiological standpoint.  From a cognitive perspective, the frontal lobe of the brain is less developed in growing children.  This area is responsible for reasoning and objective thinking.  Young children are much more emotional thinkers than their adult counterparts.  From a physiological standpoint, the heart is not yet fully developed (the greatest increase in heart volume occurs at approximately eleven years of age for girls, and approximately fourteen years of age for boys) and many lack the requisite enzyme glycogen phosphofructokinase to produce energy anaerobically (think of glycogen as gasoline.  In order for the car to work it must use, or break down gasoline.), coupled with the fact that there is a less amount of stored glycogen in the liver and muscle due to size.  Finally, anabolic hormones such as testosterone don’t start making large jumps until puberty. 

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