Most girls’ hockey players hate push-ups. And most of them aren’t
very good at them either. When I tell the players I train that we are
going to do push-ups in our workout, I usually get eye rolls, groans and
excuses in return. Most girls struggle to do proper push-ups.
Here are the 2 main reasons why:
#1 – Poor Posture
The main reason girls’ hockey players struggle with push-ups is poor posture.
Before we get to how you are going to fix that problem, you have to realize that
in order to be able to play hockey well, you actually need to have bad posture.
Think about it – you would never be able to handle to puck or catch bad passes
if you were always standing up perfectly straight with your shoulders pulled back.
Players have to let their shoulder rolls forward slightly in order to be able to reach
for loose pucks and stickhandle outside the frame of their body. Players may
need to have bad posture on the ice, but they need to work on improving their
posture off the ice so that they can avoid shoulder injuries and back pain.
And push-ups are actually a great exercise for improving posture – when they
are done properly.
In order to do the perfect push-up, your body must be in a perfectly straight line
throughout the entire movement. In order to maintain this position, players must
be able to keep their core tight (I tell them to think about tightening up as though
I was going to punch them in the stomach), squeeze their butts (that one usually
gets a few giggles) and squeeze their shoulder blades together as they lower themselves
down towards the ground. Squeezing your shoulder blades together actually activates your
back muscles. You might be thinking that pushups are an arm and chest exercise only. Wrong.
In order to be able to maintain perfect position, you have to use your back muscles to take
some of the load off of your arms and chest. You’ll find the pushups to be easier this way
and that means you’ll be able to do more of them.
Also, you can’t let your head drop. This is one of the biggest red flags I see
with young players trying to do pushups. If you let your head sag down, you break
the straight line in your spine that should extend from your head to your tailbone. By
breaking that straight line, you weaken yourself and will limit the amount of pushups
you’ll be able to do in the long run. If you can keep your body in this perfect straight
position throughout the movement, you take the load off of your arms and rely more
on your stronger chest, core and back muscles to perform the movement.
The main reason that girls hockey players struggle to do proper push-ups is that
they rely too much on their arm strength, and not enough on their core strength and stability.
Their lack of core strength and stability can be easily seen by the position
of their body throughout the push-up movement. Players either let their butts come
way up into the air or they let their hips sag down to the ground – both indicate that
the core muscles of the player are weak. You may need to have slightly poor posture
in order to play the game effectively, but you also need to counteract that bad posture
by practicing basic strength building movements, like push-ups.
#2 – Lack of Practice
You have to practice your push-ups. You aren’t just going to be able to wake up one
morning at do 30 without ever practicing them. The truth is that in order to play at the
college level or beyond, you have to be able to do at least 30 perfect pushups. And
those elite players can also do much more challenging versions of pushups like the close grip
version, fingertip pushups and, my personal favorite, clap push-ups. Being able to do 30 regular
pushups is really just a starting point. Some of you may be reading this and thinking: she’s crazy.
I can’t even do 5 good push-ups. Never-mind 30 of them.
The truth is that doesn’t matter if you can only do 2 perfect push-ups or 20 right now.
The point is to practice so that you can improve your upper body strength.
This increased strength will help you prevent shoulder injuries, win battles in
the corner, and shoot harder. And it also looks pretty cool when you can bust out
5 clap push-ups or win a pushup content against your guy friends.
So how many perfect push-ups can you do right now?
Figure out where you are starting from, keep track of your improvements over the
course of the next month and then practice, practice, practice. Who knows, you may
even start to enjoy them.
Work Hard. Dream BIG.
Your friend and coach,