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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).  Both stride rate and stride length have been investigated as a means of measuring/separating the skating velocities of high caliber and low caliber skaters. The purpose of this short blog is to investigate the research in order to answer the question:  which is more important, stride length, or stride rate? 

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I’ve gotten several e-mails lately regarding our energy system work for our hockey players at Donskov Strength and Conditioning.  Typically, during the off-season, players start with four weight room touch points/week and slowly move to three as ice touches start to increase (more can be found here).  The plan is under-pinned by the high-low model famously pioneered by Charlie Francis. During a weekly micro-cycle, three high days are programed consisting of acceleration and sprint-based work, and two low days consisting of tempo runs.  This will change ever so slightly three weeks prior to training camp when alactic capacity and lactic power work will be programed in preparation for training camp. A four-week snapshot can be found below.

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It’s that time of year once again.  A time when 100+ of the world’s best young hockey players come together to take place in the NHL combine.  Testing, interviews, meetings and assessments all strategically designed in order to further streamline managements draft day decision making.  The tricky part (aside from evaluating on ice skill and character) is deducing which off-ice tests best transfer into on ice performance. 

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Recently, there has been some fruitful dialogue by several close collogues regarding how best to lace up a pair of hockey skates for increased performance on the ice.  The idea of leaving the first eyelet untied in hopes of producing greater speeds was reinforced in a December article titled “The NHL’s best young skaters all have something in common-how they tie their skates” in The Athletic.  The purpose of this blog is to briefly outline the biomechanical considerations involved in this decision.  Prior to moving forward, we must first define a hockey stride. According to Marino (1977) a hockey stride is:

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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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Injury rates in the sport of ice hockey have been investigated by multiple researchers as a means of assessing trends, addressing anatomical areas prone to trauma, and advocating for equipment/rules modification based on inferential findings. The purpose of this article is to a.) define what an injury encompasses in the sport of ice hockey, b.) outline the research pertaining to injury rate computation, c.) reveal anatomical areas that may be exposed to injury at a higher degree during sport competition and d.) briefly outline injury mechanisms and types.

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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 role of nutrition in sports performance cannot be ignored.  Eating the proper foods serves as a performance enhancer, recovery stimulator and has a profound impact on body composition and fuel efficiency during exercise.  We are what we eat, and poor food choices may have a direct correlation on the results we seek both on and off the ice.  During the course of the competitive hockey season athletes train at Donskov Strength and Conditioning twice/week.  That is NOT a lot of time when we consider that there are one hundred and sixty eight hours in a seven-day workweek.  It doesn't take a PhD in mathematics to figure out 1.19% of the week is spent in the weight room, leaving 98.81% of the time sleeping, eating, practicing, playing hockey and attending school.  The glue that binds all of these activities is will power and good decision-making. The purpose of this article is to educate parents on the importance of proper nutrition during the hockey season.  This article was written for you because more often than not, you are directly responsible for food preparation, grocery shopping and packing on the road.  So where do we start?  What constitutes a good meal?  What should my son or daughter eat before a game?  After a game? This article serves to answer these questions and provide practical solutions sprinkled in with a little bit of science.

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