I had a great conversation with an NHL strength and conditioning coach who has spent over 20 years being involved with hockey and the NHL. We talked for about 30 minutes on topics ranging from Olympic Lifting to “Sport Specific Training”. We discussed several athletes that he has worked who have trained with “experts” on “balance and sport specific training”. The funny thing that these athletes weren’t any more prepared than other hockey players. They were actually weaker in the lower body. Isn’t hockey a unique sport that’s played on two blades? Isn’t leg strength a key component in being a better athlete let alone a better hockey player?
As a performance specialist, I don’t have an unlimited window with my athletes. With hockey, the season lasts over 7 months-depending on the level. You can’t get strong during such a long and demanding season. The US developmental program does a great job of developing its athletes by not forcing them to play too many games. They spend time in developing the athlete! The US Program gets them strong and then gets them explosive. Not the opposite. By the way, these are 17 and 18 year old athletes. At an age when one could argue the need for sports specific, they don’t really get very sports specific. The theme is athlete specific. A stronger athlete can learn the specificity of their particular sport!
I was on the ice working with a female athlete who plays major DI hockey this week. She wasn’t strong enough to take pass, settle the puck, and snipe. Funny thing is that I didn’t want the puck to settle at all. Should she squat on a BOSU ball or a stability disk? Hell NO! She needs to get as strong as possible as soon as possible! Until then, she is only using a small percentage of what God gave her.
Moral of the story, hockey players aren’t powerlifers, strongmen, or Olympic Lifters. They do however require many of the qualities(strength, explosiveness, power) that those strength athletes share. The art is finding what mix works best. Pittsburgh hockey players need to be strong, two way players in order to have chance a earning playing time in college let alone having an NHL career. Last time I checked, the next scoring phenom isn’t coming out of Pittsburgh or the US for that matter. Know your role and ditch the sport specific marketing shit and work your butt off in the gym and on the ice.
For more information about specializing to early go here to find out why 3 top DI coaches recruit athletes. They are also the best football, track, and lacrosse programs in the country.