No matter athletes from what sport you train, chances are their strength training will all have similarities. After all in the weight room you’re training qualities (speed, power, strength), not sport-specific movements. Sure there should be differences whether the sport is more linear, lateral, or rotational in nature, and there should also be differences in injury prevention strategies and conditioning. But overall there might be more similarities between programs for different sports than most people would think.
That said, training hockey players requires some very unique considerations because of the nature of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, hockey players still do reverse lunges, RFE split squats, deadlifts, chin ups, and chest presses. There are however things you should know when designing hockey strength training programs and training hockey players.
1. FAI. That stands for femoroacetabular impingement. This is something I have wrote about in the past, but is worth mentioning again. It’s basically a bony overgrowth of either the the femoral head or the acetabulum that restrict the range of motion, especially in hip flexion and internal rotation. It looks like this:
There are 3 types of FAI as you can see in the image above; Cam, Pincer, or mixed. Cam is when the overgrowth is on the femoral head, Pincer is when the overgrowth is on the acetabulum, and mixed is when there is a combination of both. The reason why this is so important is that it’s a limitation in range of motion that is non-modifiable– unless you get surgery. And it’s not like this is something uncommon; a previous study revealed the presence of FAI in over 70% of asymptomatic professional hockey players. You read that right, 70%! It’s over 2/3 of the whole hockey population at the professional level. If you train hockey players, and ignore this, or simply don’t know anything about it, you’re putting your players at greater risk of injuries. Athletes with FAI who force range of motion that they don’t have risk serious labrum damage. This is why assessing your players, and modifying their program accordingly is one of the top priorities.
2. Concussions are growing into an epidemic in hockey. I have also written about this in the past, and have wrote a full blog post on the subject, so make sure you check it out HERE. Not having any data to support this, I would guess that concussions are the number 1 most common injury in hockey players. Most concussions are largely unpreventable since it’s a traumatic injury. Concussions often times get worse and linger around for way longer than they should. One of the reasons: the neck. The poor posture (forward head) that most hockey players walk around with, which creates overly tight occipital muscles, and weak and often inhibited anterior neck flexors is a perfect set up for recurring headaches following a concussion. The rectus capitis minor specifically attaches to the lining that encapsulates the brain, and can be a very probable source of headaches if it’s overly tight. What’s the take-home from this point? Address the posture of your hockey players, and spend some time working on anterior neck strength and deep flexor stability.
3. Skating puts a tremendous amount of stress of the hips. It’s probably one of the most unnatural motions that the body can go through. And sure enough hockey players have a tendency to overdo it– showcases, clinics, summer leagues, etc. This is probably one of the reasons why structural problems such as FAI develop overt time. But even for players who don’t have FAI, it’s still very important to take care of the hips by foam rolling (and lacrosse ball), do a lot of mobility work, do prehab exercises and get manual work done on a regular basis to prevent further hip problems.
If you train hockey players and want to learn more, make sure you get Kevin Neeld’s book Ultimate Hockey Training. It’s by far the best hockey specific book out there.
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