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.