Tips from Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Powell – Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Aspiring hockey players and their parents are always looking to maximize ice time, which is obviously important in their development. Often overlooked, especially with younger goaltenders, is the off-ice component. What a goalie gains in off-ice training is every bit as important as it is with their “skating” counterparts.
The young goaltender that improves in the areas of mobility, strength and explosiveness will improve their on-ice performance, with the added bonus of injury prevention! These are the main areas of focus in a good off-ice strength and conditioning program
Mobility can be described as the ability for a joint to move through a range of motion(ROM). Specifically to goalies, hip and shoulder mobility is of utmost importance. Internal rotation of the hip, for example, is essential for the butterfly position.
Strength is so important for any athlete, and just because goalie is such a technical position does not mean that the importance of strength is diminished in any way. Simply put, strength makes all movement easier, more efficient. This makes sense, especially with hockey goalies, as the stick, and pads are so heavy and bulky. The young player who can’t move with the added resistance that the equipment adds will simply be waiting for the puck to hit him/her.
QUICKNESS (AGILITY, EXPLOSIVENESS)
Maybe the most obvious area of physical improvement for a goalie is quickness. This area might also be referred to or include agility or explosiveness. Getting the catcher or blocker up on a high shot, or moving quickly and powerfully across the crease are functions of quickness.
These areas can be trained with body weight exercises. Plyometrics refers to jump training. Specific for goalies are lateral plyometric drills. We also use bands in training the upper body explosively.
INJURY PREVENTION FACTORS
MOBILITY can be thought of as the safety valve of a joint. If a goalie has tight hips, and forces his hips into an extreme ROM, then he/she may be at risk of injury, a strained muscle, or worse a labral(cartilage) tear. If the athlete has great ROM, then it becomes less likely that they will end up in an extreme position that exposes them to injury. All of the successful professional goalies I have worked with have had outstanding mobility.
STRENGTH, or as I say, STRENGTH IN RESERVE, gives the goalie resilience when run in to, or to maintain proper positioning and movements as fatigue of games, or a series of games in a tournament sets in. Injuries occur when we ask the body to do more than it is capable of doing. The stronger athlete will have that extra strength whenever it is called upon.
Strength also provides the athlete with stability around their joints. That strength will protect the joints through the demands of games and training.
When can the young hockey player begin off-ice training safely? Certainly a young athlete-10-12 yr old- can work on mobility, explosiveness, core stability with body weight movements, I would be hesitant to use extra weight beyond small dumbbells, or a plastic pipe or stick to practice squatting movements. At 12-13 yrs, a boy or girl can start to use resistance- a good guideline is that the athlete should be able to do at least 8-10 reps on a given exercise, this keeps the load light. Remember that at this age, you are trying to reinforce good habits, and practice perfect technique. Heavier weights can be lifted as they get older, but without a good foundation based on solid technique, the athlete’s gains in the weight room will be limited, and worse, the risk of injury in training is increased.
Mark Powell has been Strength and Conditioning coach of the Syracuse Crunch, currently the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate, for 10 years. Previously, he has worked with prospects from the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets’ organizations. He has also worked with adolescent athletes as Head Athletic Trainer/S+C coach at East Syracuse Minoa High School, in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York for 28 years.
Follow him on Twitter –> @boogatc