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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Donskov Strength and Conditioning

Posted by on in Programming

Reflecting on my hockey career, I always remembered the first few days of training camp.  Those were intense times.  I also recollect questioning my off-ice preparation during these times?  Why did my legs feel so heavy?  Did I not train hard enough?  Time and time again, I didn’t feel I had my “hockey legs” underneath me.  For someone who took so much pride in off-season preparation, why did I feel this way?  It took me many years to formulate a working hypothesis.  They say experience comes at the user’s expense, if only I knew then.

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Posted by on in Rehabilitation

The adductors are a series of long muscles that originate in the pubis (pelvis) and insert into the femur (leg).  In the sport of ice hockey, their function is to eccentrically decelerate hip extension during push off, while concentrically contracting during swing.  In other words, as the player pushes off, the adductors are lengthened.  As the player recovers his/her foot, the muscles are shortened.  Adductor strains are amongst the most common form of soft tissue injury experienced during competitive ice hockey.  Adductor strains are prevalent and accounted for 10% of all injuries (10 of 95) in elite Swedish ice hockey players [1], while others have reported that 43% of injuries (20-47) resulted from adductor strains in elite Finnish ice hockey [2].  In a study from Tyler et al. [3]   researchers found that National Hockey League players with adductor to abductor strength ratios of less than 80% were seventeen times more likely to experience an adductor strain.  In order to understand these implications, one must dive deeper into the biomechanics of the sport.

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Posted by on in Coaching Development

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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Posted by on in Coaching Development

 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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Posted by on in Programming

In a study done by former NHL Coach George Kingston in 1976 he found that the average player in the Canadian system spent 17.6 minutes on the ice during a typical game and was in possession of the puck for an astonishingly low 41 seconds. Kingston concluded that in order to get one hour of quality work in the practicing of the basic skills of puck control, (that is, stick-handling, passing, and shooting) approximately 180 games would have to be played.

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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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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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