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My father was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and spent three and a half years living in a refugee camp before a church sponsored his family to come by boat to Northern Canada.  He was twelve at the time, could not speak a word of English, and his family had nothing except the clothes on their backs, and a few minor items they traveled with.  At an early age, my father learned valuable lessons that would help shape his life, and many years later, the lives of his sons.  Earning things meant sacrifice; priorities and obligations overshadowed privileges and hard work, discipline, determination and desire were expected, not asked for.  Survival meant scratching, clawing, working, learning and listening in order to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and make an honest living.  These experiences molded my father into the man he was: a survivor, a hard worker, and a highly educated professional never forgetting what it took to reach places that, at many times, may have seemed unreachable. I am certain that these experiences have shaped my father’s life in ways that I may never fully understand, but I know deep in my heart he has used these life events to raise his sons into the men they have become today.

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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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Posted by on in Programming

Welcome back!  Last month we spoke in depth about how movement efficiency off the ice can tangibly aid in on-ice skating performance.  We used basic physics to determine that if we increase impulse (the product of net force and the time the force is applied) we can improve our stride efficiency while using less energy to accomplish a given task.  Let’s stay with basic physics as this helps elucidate just why strength training is important for the aspiring hockey player.  First, we must proceed with an elementary understanding of force.

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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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Dear 23 year-old Anthony,

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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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It’s about that time of year again!  A time where youth athletes’ are finishing up their competitive seasons and looking forward to the summer.  It’s also a time when parents are looking at enlisting the service of a “personal trainer” or strength coach to aid in the athletic development of their children.  This is a big decision for a parent that warrants a little homework.  After all you wouldn’t give your hard earned money to an investment banker without knowing their background, philosophy and practical experience.   The same can be said for physical conditioning.  Health is the most important investment of all, and to place it in the hands of a competent Coach takes a little investigating.   Below are three pitfalls to avoid when choosing where you’re son or daughter will train this summer.

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Posted by on in Programming

Advanced Periodization & Team Sports

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In school we do what we are taught, in the real world…we do what works.  Today there are countless resources at the disposal of the strength and conditioning practitioner.  Books, DVD’s, lecture series, podcasts and programming manuals all designed with the coach in mind.  Through countless hours of education and enough coffee to kill a small farm animal I have found that many times the real world can be the best teacher of all.  You can have all the scientific reasoning, research and peer reviewed literature behind your program, but if you don’t have the time, resources and athletes’ to carry out your plan, your results will be dead in the water.  Through trail and error, here are three lessons the real word has exposed to me with regards to program design that cannot be found in the pages of a book. 

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It’s that time of year again at DSC.  A new batch of young interns has joined our staff in hopes and aspirations of becoming strength and conditioning professionals.  Whether the end goal is the University/College setting, or the private sector this experience will help “set the table” for their future endeavors.  Over the years our internship program has evolved into a formal application and interview process.  Well before an intern sets foot into the confines of our facility, it’s important that our staff feels that he/she will be a good fit for the DSC family.   Pulse, passion, and purpose far outweigh diplomas, pre-conceived opinions, and certifications.  We have been pretty lucky over the years to have a very good mix of interns, some better than others.  Below are five keys for young coaches to have success, and a memorable internship experience in the strength and conditioning field. 

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