Hacking Hockey Training: Glutes – the forgotten muscle

This is an article that I’m a little uncomfortable writing. This is because I feel like I’m giving away my secret. That being said, it isn’t really my secret to give. It is something I’ve figured out after studying the best. And the secret is this: train the glutes!

This trick, is what has our athletes leaving the gym after a summer of training, saying that they REALLY notice a difference on the ice. 

What do I mean when I say, train the glutes? Well, gluteus maximus is your biggest, most powerful muscle in the body. Its job is to extend and externally rotate the hips. (Hint: skating requires powerful hip extension and external rotation!) Unfortunately, many trainers neglect to train the glutes. How? Sloppy setup mechanics for all lifts, sloppy squat and deadlift mechanics can cause your body to train other muscles instead of the glutes. Commonly, I see deadlifters and squatters “tension hunting”, consequently using their hamstrings to hip extend. Even worse, I see athletes who perform their movements mostly using knee flexion and extension instead of hip flexion/extension. These athletes, are not only mashing their knees, but training their body to use less powerful muscles…the quadriceps.

Listen to Dan John, Kelly Starrett, Louie Simmons, and they’ll all tell share a similar message: you need to learn to use technique that uses the glutes correctly in your lifts. Train those movements properly, and you’ll be able to lift more, which will make you stronger, which will help your performance more. Train those movements properly, and they’ll become a part of your athletic or sport movement patterns too! Train those movements properly and you’ll reduce your risk of injury.

How do we ensure our athletes are training their glutes? Here’s how:

  • Ensure they know perfect setup mechanics for a lift
  • The above includes squeezing glutes, toes forward, screw feet into ground, shove knees out
  • Ensure that athletes posteriorly load on all lifts. 
  • Teach athletes proper triple extension, avoiding lordosis
  • Use exercises that bias hip flexion and extension

Train your glutes with proper movement patterns, and see your lifts jump through the roof if you’re using the correct movement patterns. You’ll then see your on-ice performance jump through the roof right behind your lifts.

All the best, and have fun developing buns of steel!


Hacking Hockey: Skating

What are a lot of people misunderstanding about skating?

One big misperception many coaches have is how much time we actually spend skating in a straight line. Players skate in a straight line less than 15% of the time. So coaches who spend more than 15% of time devoted to linear skating are misappropriating their practice time. The most common skating skills are:

  • Explosive c-cuts (forward and backwards, inside and outside edge)
  • Cross-over steps while moving (maximum of 3-4 at a time)
  • Open hip pivots (as direction change and as puck protection)
  • Tight turns
  • Pivots

Also understand that linear skating very rarely occurs from a dead stop. Most of the time, players engage in 3-4 explosive linear strides after transitioning using one of the above skating skills. Game-specific speed should be taught by working on a player’s ability to accelerate while already in motion.

Players also have to be stable, but also reactive. Figure skating coaches often teach stability, but not the ability to be reactive. Figure skaters do not need to change direction quickly, as they have preplanned routines. Figure skaters also do not need to receive contact. For that reason, if a figure skating coach hasn’t adapted their teaching to suit a hockey player’s needs, they are potentially training players to adopt less reactive and more injury prone positions while skating. One specific example is the pulling cross-over. This move is common in figure skating, but leaves hockey players open to risk of MCL or ACL injury if they accept contact while pulling with their inside foot. Furthermore, pulling with the inside foot on a cross-over is less explosive and harder to execute.  I’m not saying that figure skating coaches are inherently bad, but I’m saying that they need to alter what they teach to suit a hockey player’s needs.

So to skate better, faster…and to hack skating…focus on the most common skating skills in hockey. 

Get Better Faster – Hacking Hockey with Tim Ferris

Lifehacking: A tool or technique that makes some aspects of one’s life easier or more efficient. (from urbandictionary.com)

You’ve all heard of life hacking, or bio hacking. Is it possible to hack hockey? I think so. Drawing from contemporary wisdom of Tim Ferris and his book “The 4-Hour Chef”, I’ll explain a few techniques to hack hockey.

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Muscle Pudding – Recipe

Buzzword Warning!!

This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, raw, natural, unprocessed….

But that’s not why I love this recipe. I love it because it is incredibly calorie dense, full of micronutrients, absolutely delicious, portable and filling. Everything that an athlete needs.

Plus, it was shared with me by a guy named Sajo (which is cool in and of itself), and he looks like this:

Sajo (aka Sam Johnston)

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Hockey Specific Training 2.0: The “Is …. good for hockey?” effect

Hockey specific training, or sport specific training has some supporters, and some people who think it’s junk. What does the 2.0 version of hockey specific training look like? Here are some highlights:

  • 2.0 parses the best parts of other sports/training methodologies and only uses the parts that are useful to hockey. Find out what parts are useful to hockey.
  • 2.0 chooses those aspects that complement on-ice hockey performance
  • 2.0 isolates key physical skills and trains them with the best known methods

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Updated May 2014: Why the term fast feet should never apply to hockey

Updated to reflect some new knowledge and perspectives that I’ve come across regarding the term “fast feet” or “quick feet”.

  • Updated to make things simpler to understand
  • Clarify the difference between what we see on the ice and how we train to make that happen.
  • Better understand why blade contact time is important.

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