It’s this time of year at Endeavor where our hockey players are slowly coming back for the off-season training. During the next 2 months or so, we’ll progressively welcome back our players, and by the time June rolls around we should be at full capacity and be extremely busy throughout the summer.
In the meantime, the current phase of the off-season is what we call “the early off-season” for the guys that are already back with us. These guys have the advantage of having a long off-season and plenty of time to not only improve their performance, but undo the damage they’ve put on their body throughout the season. And God knows how much damage a long hockey season can put on your body, especially on your hips. That’s why our early off-season phase focuses a lot more on re-establishing balance than it is about improving performance.
Hockey is a rotational sport, just like baseball, football (for quarterbacks), lacrosse, tennis and golf. One thing to understand is that the rotational movements occur almost exclusively in one direction. Over the course of a season, this accounts for many rotations when making passes and taking shots during all the practices and games the athlete takes part in. Rotations in the opposite direction are almost non-existent, and if you want to ensure better symmetry and balance throughout the body, there is definitely a need for rotational work on the non-dominant side.
The core exercises in a training program can be a good tool to help re-establish better balance. Even though our exercises are not purely rotational in nature (actually they are just the opposite; anti-rotation), the movement pattern and the muscles recruited are the same; they just happen to work in an isometric fashion.
That being said, instead of working both sides equally, we’ll double or triple the volume on the non-dominant side for all the anti-rotation core exercises we’re using. Just about any anti-rotation exercise can be used, but 2 of my favorites are the Belly Press and the Chop, both in the 1/2 kneeling position.
I really like the 1/2 kneeling position, especially in the early off-season because you get some lengthening of the hip flexors and some hip stability in the end range of motion. We’ll usually do 3 sets on the non-shooting side, and only one on the shooting side.
The concept can also be expanded with the rotational power work, with medicine ball throws and the like. Adding more sets on the non-dominant side will help re-establish some sort of balance around the hips, the shoulders and the core.
The early off-season is a good time to work on major imbalances and the damage done during the season before getting into heavy strength and power work throughout the summer, so it’s important to take advantage of it.
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