For most, it is widely accepted that the Off Season is the only time to improve athleticism while maintenance of those improvements tends to be the goal during the season. While I do not disagree with the logic, it is in fact possible for the dedicated athlete to enhance their performance even during a physically demanding season. Most young athletes do have the obstacle of having several commitments, be it: school, practices, games, extracurricular activities, oh yea...and a social life. Due to the demands of our generation's crazy scheduling, I strongly emphasize efficiency and discipline to create good mental habits to avoid any possible stress. For my younger readers who aspire to one day become elite collegiate athletes, time management is basically a pre-requisite as nearly all successful veterans would agree.
So how do I enhance performance during the season?
Your game schedule should be the focal point of your in season programming. Finding the happy medium of training enough to see improvements while avoiding over training is vital. I typically like training my athletes 2 Sessions Per Week and no more than 3. You also want to allow enough time for recovery before games for optimal performance (which is the whole point really...to perform your absolute best in games). So with all that being said, here are the 4 Takeaway Points:
- Develop a Post Game Recovery Routine - Some coaches may misinterpret scheduling a workout right after a game and perceive it as overkill. This is why I like to label these "workouts" as Active Recovery. It is a method still used by the NHL today and the purpose of it is to prepare the body and mind for the next game by allowing it the most possible time for recovery. Related Post: Good Habits: Post Game Recovery Routine
- Develop Your Weaknesses - The main elements in training during the season include: squat variations, core stabilization, push/pull movements, hip hinge, and mobility. While these continue to be the focal points for every athlete's training, the most logical method to enhancing performance is to improve your weaknesses. Each athlete should pick at least 1 weakness to develop during the season and hone in on that skill until another weakness is exposed. For example, if hand eye coordination is a weakness, you may want to dedicate time to off ice stick handling or multi reactive drills. This year, I have challenged members of our hockey program to complete the 10,000 Touches Program developed by the OMHA.
3. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility - Address any soft tissue damage with foam roll work, stretching and orthopedic massage (if necessary). Hip and shoulder related injuries tend to be the most common in hockey players, specifically groin strains. Avoid these common injuries with constant emphasis on mobility.
4. Smart Squatting - Use the front squat or single leg variations over back squatting. Front squats force good technique habits and single leg variations such as Bulgarian Split Squats and Single Leg Deadlifts are effective movements that transfer well to ice hockey. This also applies to younger athletes as the movements can still be practiced without weights or heavy resistance.
Related Post: 3 Training Tips to Enhance In Season Performance