Training Hard or Training Smart: When the NHL Pucks Drop, will the Players Be Ready?
When the NHL kicks off this week we will learn some interesting things about NHL training programs. Athletes who were ready to roll in September are starting all over again 5 months later. Will they be prepared? Athletes are creatures of habit, will the ramped up schedule create result in more injuries? How much of an advantage will the players who chose to go to Europe or played in the AHL have over those who waited in out? What do athletes do to prepare?
I Stumbled on these hockey training videos recently that made me ask some questions and had to react. Some people take “sport specific” too far for the sake of trying to be more clever than they are. (Click photo for video)
Circus or purpose? What do you think?
Above Average Bear
Athletes need to be challenged and can be challenged on a different level than the average bear, but this is just wrong on so many levels; Knee angles, spine position, potential for injury, and right on almost zero levels. Before every exercise ask yourself why? What is the purpose? What is the outcome? What is the downside and upside? Then decide if it should be included in your training program. Squats and deadlifts, on skates? Really? Locked ankles, shifted centre of gravity, the athlete elevated higher off the ground lengthening levers, externally rotated feet…..If THIS made it to video I can only image what doesn’t. Skates are for skating. That’s why they are called skates.
Training is not just about the muscles and every coach needs to look beyond the obvious things you can see and feel and consider what is going on throughout the athlete’s body. Muscles, the cardio system and the mental push through barriers are the easy things to challenge.
The biomechanics of joints, connective tissue and stabilizer muscles are the areas that require true knowledge, understanding and consideration as these are the elements that will break down and fail. We must challenge the easy things without compromising the weak links but eliminating them. Challenging instability to activate stabilizers and uncover weak links is one thing, over-activation of the wrong muscles and creating a difficult environment for the sake of a difficult environment is at best unnecessary, at worst dangerous and potentially activating muscles to do the wrong things at the wrong time.
We must ask the right questions, understand the answers and truly understand the purpose and proper progression of every drill. Not just go for the high intensity, the “creative” and the sexy! (Click to play)
Check out the mechanics on those sled pulls at 1:03. Does that look like the posture of an athlete?
These video examples demonstrate an effort to challenge the athletes in creative and unique ways to be sure, however the objective, purpose and execution are not well thought out and the coaching, correction and critical evaluation are completely absent from the process. The coaches are disengaged from any technique and/or posture correction and only focused on motivating, timing and basking in the glory of their own perceived creativity as they video what they think are amazing workouts by their pro athletes.
Technique, progression and purpose should guide every decision, every exercise, every drill. Promoting poor movement patterns, loading dysfunctional systems, and training hard for the sake of training hard rather than just training smart can be the difference between success and failure, between performance and injury. When the puck finally drops this week, I hope the players are ready and the injuries are minimal.
This is what a purposeful plan and properly coached drills should look like.
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- January 14, 2013 / 1:14 am