Our brand-new Total Female Hockey “Tryout Training Team” just started their off-season training program this week – and these players are awesome. They are focused on doing whatever it takes to become the best players they possibly can – whether that means doing burpees, pushing weighted sleds or doing chin-ups (awesome!). As we finished up our session last night, one of the girls asked me when we were going to be riding the bikes? We have about 50 of them at the gym and they look “cool”, so of course, players want to use them. But should they?
When it comes to off-ice training for girls hockey players in the summer, I try to avoid bikes as much as possible.
If players continue to train on the bike during the off-season, the main “skating” muscles, the quads and hip flexors, that are already tight and over-worked from a long season will continue to be over-used in the off-season.
You might think that continuing to train in this “sport-specific” movement pattern would make your “hockey muscles” even stronger and keep you in hockey shape throughout the off-season.
The problem is that continuing to over-work and over-train your “hockey” muscles leads to muscular imbalances between the front of the body and the back of the body, which can lead to injury.
Your quadriceps and hip flexors are your “engines”. There’s no mystery why elite hockey players tend to be “Quadzillas”. They spend so much time skating that their “engines” become over-developed.
On the other hand, the muscles on the back side of your body, namely your glutes (ie. butt) and hamstrings are your “brakes”. These are the muscles that allow you to stop on a dime and change direction instantaneously out on the ice. These muscles are rarely used to their full extent on the ice because of the skating position, which means that over the course of the long hockey season, your “brakes” become weaker and weaker and your agility suffers.
Your summer training program should focus on activities, such as running, that counterbalance the tightness in your “engines” and increase the strength of your “brakes”.
By doing hockey-specific conditioning this summer, by running instead of biking, you will strengthen your “brakes” and loosen up your “engines” so that you can use both more effectively next season.
Because most girls hockey players don’t (and shouldn’t) run at high intensities in-season, you have to be careful not to go too hard too soon in your off-season training. Players should begin their off-season training doing lower-intensity intervals and eventually progress to high-intensity sprinting. These progressions are spelled out for you in the Total Female Hockey Complete Training System.
If you are ready to get started on building the best “engines” and “brakes” possible for next season, get off the bike this summer and start running.
Work Hard. Dream BIG.
~ Coach Kim