Ice hockey research indicates that an effective skater has certain characteristics such as deep knee bend while skating, increased forward lean while in the skating motion, quick recovery time after propulsion, wide strides, high stride frrequency, and using the shoulders in a sideways manner to counteract the motion of the legs. What does all this suggest? There are specific motions inherent in hockey that each player must possesss to be successful. These qualities used over and over throughout a season can produce overuse injuries that must be addressed by the coaching staff as well as the strength coach and athletic trainer. What are some overuse inuries in hockey? Low back pain due to the constant forward lean a player must be in during game and practice situations. Groin irritation due to constant repetition of the propulsion and recovery phases of the legs during skating. Rotator cuff irritation due to contact with other players and the boards. These areas must be strengthened during the off-season and remain strong during the season. One might think that paying extra attention to these areas while in-season would be the answer. Quite the oppostite. The areas that are at risk from overuse due to the nature of the sport should be cautiously used in strength training and in many cases recuperative methods such as massage, foam rollers, hot/cold baths, stretching etc. should be used rather then further irritating these areas with exercise. Another key concept with in-season training is to keep a balance between opposite and opposing muscle groups. For example, during a typical NHL practice a player may stride 3,000 times per leg, per practice. During the propulsion phase most of the muscles used are the glutes and abductors. These muscles over time become overly developed compared to the adductors which are weaker and thus need to be strengthened. A big reason for groin issues during the season is this imbalance which can be solved with an exercise called the squeeze. A rubber ball about the size of a basketball is placed between the knees and the athlete squeezes the knees together as hard as possible for about 3 sec. and then releases. This is done for 10 repetitions and 3 sets. When considering your in-season program for yourself or your team take into consideration the factors that make up the sport of ice hockey and be sure to keep these areas strong, recuperated, and balanced. Strengthcoach.
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Preparing for practice tonight with the Washington Pride, a U19 women's ice hockey team. The team has a 7 month season which started in September and lasts through March into the first week in April culminating at Nationals. I meet with the team once per week and give them workouts to do on their own as well as a team after practice which is 3-4 times per week with games on the weekend. This years team is young and has two U18 Olympic Team members. The goal of this years off-ice is to increase hockey specific strength, treat as well as prevent injuries, and increase the confidence of the team through tough workouts. This is a 8 month periodized plan that includes testing and trainig to see the results of the team as we progress to insure proper training is being done. To see a more detailed description of The Pride's plan check out the message boards tomorrow. Jim Fox.
First client today was at 5:30am and finished at noon. I am currently training 4 gentlemen who have either Parkinsons Disease or Alzheimers. In my career as a strength coach/personal trainer I have never been exposed to this many clients at one time with neurological diseases. They all have differing qualities of disabilities but none are exactly the same. The consistency is that exercise can help. This of course is not a controled experiment but a situation in which strength training, and movement together can help over time. I am glad that I have been put in a positionn to help these men and that I do what I do. Jim Fox.
I just offered a speed and agility program for football that is going to start in January and was surprised at how many parents wanted their 8 year olds to participate in my program which is 10 and up. I had to think quickly what I could offer to these young athletes and I came up with a 30 minute speed and agility class specifically for young athletes. The object of the class is to teach, not condition, but to learn how to run which is very much a neuromuscular activity which requires resting between sets. The 30 minute versus 60 minute differential between the 10 and 8 year old class is due to the maturity level and just a lack of focus over the 30 minute mark in the younger group. What a difference in training philosophy then say 10 years ago. We are starting much younger with our athletes and having them reach important milestones earlier and earlier, but let's remember that they are still kids and that they have a lifetime of sports and fitness ahead of them. The conditioning class starts January 4th at Rockville Fitness on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6-7:30. For further details please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for my message board about teaching running in the next few days. Thanks. Strengthcoach.
January 3, 2003. First day on the job as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for The Washington Capitals. It's a game day. Team has 10am skate with Jeff Halpern and Michael Nylander injured. I stretch Michael and Jeff and prepare the workout for the healthy scratches for tonight. The wokout consists of Dumbbell Incline Chest press-2x12, Latpull-2x12, Upright row-2x12, Lunges-2x12, Leg Curl-2x12, In and Outs-2x12, MB Abs.-2x20, and Bike Workout-1200-5 min., 1200-1 min., 1200-30 sec. sprint, 1200-1 min., 1200-30 sec. sprint, 1500-1 min., 1500-30 sec. sprint, 1800-1 min., 1200-1 min., 2100-1 min., 1200-1 min.x5, cool-down. This was a typical game day for the NHL. Most people don't understand the day in and day out grind that athletes endure year to year in their respective sports. Not only is a NHL player expected to play every other night but also take care of off-ice responsibilities which could include up to 2 times per week strength training as well as extra cardiovascular training depending on the level of playing time that an individual is getting. Despite many opinions that it is not possible to make gains over the course of the ice hockey season it is quite the opposite. The off-ice plan must be carefully placed within games in order to not overtrain but at the same time making gains for each player. What does the plan look like? The above sample workout is typical of most of the in-season training that takes place in the NHL. Total body workout, 2 sets with most exercises involving double jointed exercises. The above workout, excluding the bike workout, would take about 20 minutes. Keep in mind that the abouve workout is for healthy scratches, not playing and not injured so they need extra cardiovascular training to keep up with the rest of the team that is playing a full game. I would like to add that alot of the training takes place post-game, which means in addition to playing a full NHL game the players are lifting from about 9:30pm to 9:50pm. That's dedication. Strenghcoach.
My experience as a strength and conditioning coach began at the University of Maryland when I met Frank Costello, a pioneer in the strength and conditioning field, and I started my internship with him. This relationship continues today, but Frank was responsible for my exposure to The Washington Capitals which led to me being his assistant for 13 years as well as being the Head Strength Coach for The Washington Capitals for 1.5 seasons. During this time I worked with the best athletes in the world. From Dale Hunter to Olie Kolzig I was exposed to everything that you could possibly learn about the sport. To contact me please call, 301-717-0860, email, jimfox@dcemail or see the facility where I train my athletes at www.RockvilleFitness.com. Strengthcoach.
I was talking to a friend today and was asked if Diet Coke was healthier than regular Coke. Truthfully, I didn't know the answer at the time, but started some research. My reference, Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske, M.S. What I found was some surprising statistics that explains many of the health problems that we are suffering from today. Check out my message board tomorrow for a full report. Jim Fox.
I just finished training some baseball players at Derek Hacopian's Baseball Academy. What an incredible facility. Derek played baseball at University of Maryland and was ACC player of the year. The kids tonight were great. We did an hour long program which consisted of a warm-up, speed drills, eye hand coordination drills, plyometrics, agility ladder, medicine ball drills, cone drills, and sprints at the end of the session. I am looking forward to having a great impact on these athletes and making sure that they are able to reach the next level, whatever that is. I will go into what makes a productive baseball specific strength and conditioning program tomorrow in my message board. Thanks. Strengthcoach.
Running is something that when we are young we do very naturally. If you take the time to look at young children playing ath the park you can see what efficient running looks like. What happens between then and when a youth starts to become serious in his or her sport. Overtraining is a big culprit in the changing of a persons biomechanics as they get older. I have been reading a great book call Chi running that sheds some light on the physical, mental,and spirtual characteristics that can help in creating effortless running. I will take this information and use it to make some comments about how it can benefit a young athlete in learning proper sprinting technique in my message board this coming week. Strengthcoach.
Happy New Year and wanted to let everyone know that I just started a 6 week speed session for football players. The six week camp consists of three workouts per week with a major emphasis on speed mechanics as well as basic strength training. The camp offers some good extras with boxing instruction taught by Coach Marc Craig who works with many Redskins as well as the head football coach from Walter Johnson High School coming to talk the kids. Nutrition and video analysis is being offered as well as a nutritionist coming to talk to the group about proper nutrition and the athlete. If your interested there will be two more 6 week sessions. I will be documenting some of the test results from this 6 week session in further blogs and message boards. Thanks. Strengthcoach.
This Thursday night I begin training Pachuca, an elite travel soccer team headed up by Coach Pete Mehlert, the only coach to lead American University to an NCAA Division I soccer final. The training is in preperation for Pachuca's outdoor season which begins in March. How is soccer training different then Football? Take a look at my message board on Thursday and see what comprises an eltie soccer training program. Strengthcoach.
Wouldn't it be nice to have someone at your disposal to suggest the right things to do for weight loss, proper exercise tips, or even the right stretches for those nagging injuries that keep you from achieving your goals. You or your company could have this with Infusion Athletic Training Strength Coach On Call. This service would allow an individual, small group, company, or team unlimited access to a strength coach for as many times as they want for a small monthly fee. Testing, program design, pregame or postgame warm-up or cool down and even referral to other professionals that could help you, like orthopedic doctors, physical therapists etc. If your interested please contact me, Jim Fox, at email@example.com or 301-717-0860.
March Madness is upon us and as the college season culminates with this annual tradition we are reminded that Spring is here and Summer is close approaching. Although college basketball is at it's most important point of the season, high school basketball was over weeks ago and most athletes are beginning their off-season training, or is there really an off-season. The answer is not really. Compared to 10 years ago the main season for high school was with the high school the athlete was affliated with. A Summer league was not out of the question but now you have Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer leagues which gives an athlete time to develop as a basketball player but where is the time for strength and conditioning and not to mention time away from the sport. Is this too much for young athletes? I think the answer is yes. There must be time for the high school athlete to get away from his or her sport and rest, not only completely but actively as well with cross-training with other sports. Are we bringing up our athletes too qauickly? In some cases the answer is yes. Let the athletes develop at their own pace and don't be concerned with how much or what kind of challenging drills can the athlete can do to impress everyone in the gym. Take each athlete seperately and let them develop at atheir own speed.
It is often said that athletes are made in the Summer, but their respective teams are formed in-season. In the age of no off-seasons due to year round competition, let's go over a typical year from a sport and training perspective. The training year consists of 5 phases: Inseason, Complete Rest, Active Rest, Off-Season, and Preseason. For an athlete to excel to his or her full potential these phases should be followed. An athlete, especially at an early age,must take a step away from their sport. Crosstraining is an important ingredient for a young athlete due to the memorization of patterns from each sport that can be utilized later once one sport has been chosen. Other important considerations in Off-season training are:
Make treating injuries a priority because your only as strong as your weakest link.
Set goals for the Summer like a want to run a forty time of 4.5
Test yourself to keep your program honest
Make you weaknesses your strengths
Take the time to plan your Summer training and don't wait until the last minute. Remember, planning and preperation are a key to any type of success.
If your an elite level athlete or a person looking to improve cognitvie functioning you can start to include a mental warm-up to your program. This would take place after your general warm-up and dynamic flexibility sequence. A mental warm-up could include balance exercises as well as eye/hand coordination drills that involve the central nervous system and in turn vision, eye movement, touch and hand control. These drills act to stimulate the CNS which provide exercise for the brain and increaed efficiency as well as decreased medical bills in the long run. Think of this mental sequence as preperation for the rest of the workout. A very basic balance training exercise involves standing on one leg for 30 seconds. If this is not difficult enough, try closing your eyes! If you have any further questions about this type of training please feel free to contact me, Jim Fox, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
I was recently asked to serve as the speed/strength coach for the Montgomery County NFL high school combine that is being held at Einstein High School May 17-21. Part of my responsibilities will be to properly prepare the athletes for the day. What does that involve? Recently the way athletes warm-up has changed from general warm-up and stretching to general warm-up and dynamic flexibility. What is the difference? The difference is that for many years coaches were using static stretching to prepare for football based activities such as sprinting, tackling, and many other actions that are associated with football. In general, the warm-up should prepare the athlete for the practice ahead. The dynamic flexibility sequence reflects and should be specific to the practice. The sequence should include exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, frankensteins's and even some sprinting based drills to ensure proper stride mechanics for sprinting. At the end of the warm-up the athlete should be sweating and ready for the practice. There is a place for static stretching and that is at the end of practice as a cooldown.
There is a movement within the field of conditioning of athletes that concerns recuperative techniques. What is a recuperative technique? This is a technique that can act to reverse the conditions of training. These techniques can be in the form of foam rolling, self massage, flushing or even stretching post workout. Whether these techniques are used in every workout or on off-days between sessions, the key point is that they are used consistently as programed rest within the week. Rest and recuperation is vital for a program to be successful. Off days, proper rest, nutrition, yoga, meditation, are all important for the proper revitalization of an athlete. Try adding nasal breathing or Prana Yama breathing to your program. This involves deep breathing from your diaphram through your nose only. Imagine a wave rolling into the shore and slowly going back out to sea. This image should be present when breathing in addition to non-forced breathing in as well as out deep into the bottom of the lungs. This type of breathing can be utilized between sets of a strength training workout or during a break between sets of sprints. This will act to deliver quality oxygen to the lungs and into your blood stream for optimal performance.
Strength and conditioning used to be a field that was looked upon much like yoga or pilates was looked upon several years ago. Now you can find 6 and 8 year olds working with a strength and conditioning specialist. It's time to make a strength and conditioning coach a part of the public school system. It's about time the public school system recognizes that a professional needs to be invloved in high school sports not only from a competitive standpoint but from a safety perspective. I want to make it clear that the physical education teachers in high school are qualified to do what they do but the numbers are just not there for them to be working with each and every team. Many times I have walked into area high school weight rooms and been surprised to see what dangerous practices are taking place. Many times programs in high school are implemented from a successful college program. Are you kidding me! How could a high school athlete possibly compare to a college athlete. In addition many coaches who are totally unqualified are in charge of implementation and observation of strength and conditioning programs. A position much like you have with athletic training should be formed for the strength and conditioning coach for every high school in the county. The public school needs to follow suit with what private schools have been doing for years.
I think everyone can remember the story of Walter Peyton inviting several college football players to run hills with him during his off-season routine. The end result was that the college players could not handle the intensity of the training. This type of training would be considered metabolic training but NOT speed work. The difference is the recuperation between sets in speed training. In some cases a 5-10 minute break may be used between sets of speed work depending on the intensity and length of each set. Reason being that speed training is a neuromuscular activity requiring complete rest in order for the mind and body to remember the specific form while sprinting. Fatique causes your form to break down.
A University of Georgia study compared hill verus horizontal running and found that hill running recruited 6% more muscle firing in the gastroc, gracilis, and semimembraneous as compared to horizontal sprints. Why incorporate hill training if your an athlete? Of all the resisted conditions that can be used for speed development which include; ankle weights, weight vest, sled pull, tire pull, parachute and sand, hills offer an individual or especially a team the economic solution to being faster.
How does one choose a hill? Research indicates that a hill with a gradient between 5-15 degrees is best for producing results in short burst acceleration that involves the ATP-CP energy system. Sprints should never take more than 30 seconds to complete.
Speed is defined as quickness of the movement of a limb. The beauty of hill training is that it forces you into proper position. Proper sprinting position involves a total body lean with a straight line going through the ankle, knee, hips, upper torso and finally the head. Try running up a hill without leaning. It's impossible to be fast and not lean. Next let's consider arm drive. A hill forces an athlete to overemphasize arm drive, which linked with proper leg drive forces one to come up on toes, dorsi flex foot, and drive knees to ninety degrees. The previous is a paradigm used by Vern Gambetta, noted strength and conditioning specialist, which is called PAL, posture, arm drive and leg drive. This simple paradigm is essential in proper speed mechanics.
Where does hill training fit into a weekly program? First, make sure an athlete has mastered all speed mechanics horizontally before using a hill or other resisted conditions. Once per week is sufficient when intorducing hill training with a 4-6 week period before progressing to twice per week. Hill training should be done after an extensive warm-up to include 2-4 speed specific drills in the beginnning of a speed, agility, plyometric training day. Two to three minutes should be given for rest between sets of speed training, or if using a heart rate monitor, allowing heart rate to return to 50% of max heart rate. Number of sets would depend on the experience level of the athlete as well as the training cycle. Sets could be between 7-10, keeping in mind that form is paramount and if forms starts to suffer a longer break should be given or training stopped for hills that day.
Speed and agility programs specifically for lacrosse will start December 1st at Rockville Fitness, www.rockvillefitness.com. Sessions are $25.00 and will run 60 minutes. Jim Fox, owner of Infusion Athletic Training, Inc. will oversee the workouts. Jim Fox is in his 21st year as a performance coach and has past positions with Washington Capitals, American Unversity, and Bethesda Soccer. For further information please see www.bethesdalacrosse.com.