I want to place hockey until the day I die. Can you help?
January 22, 2013 4:06 AM   Subscribe

Calling fellow hockey players, young and old, what specific gym or off-ice training will be the most beneficial in terms of keeping me in hockey shape for as long as humanly possible?

I love playing ice hockey more than anything else. If you play hockey, I probably don't have to explain this any further.

I played for most of the early 90's when I was quite young and lived in New York, then forgot about it for almost a decade, and then started again from the bottom around 5-6 years go. I'm now in my early 30s, and live in a place (Australia) that doesn't have the same fervent support and training as other places, so I'm turning to the trusty green for help.

Currently, I play drop-in for about 90 minutes three times a week, and then officiate one day a week, usually for three games in a row, and thats about the extent of my physical activity. This tends to keep in pretty decent shape all around, and have been improving at a pace that should be expected of someone my age (I think...), however there are two specific areas that I am concerned about, and have been considering using the three days that I'm not on the ice to try and develop a routine to address these, either a gym or at home.

1) Lower Back Pain and Hip Tightness - I know this just comes with the territory of getting older, but usually each day after a session I have to spend at least a day recovering. I tried doing strength exercises like deadlifts and squats, but that ended up making me so sore that I couldn't play the next day, and sort of defeated the purpose. Is there any way I can slowly build these core muscles to avoid such tight hips and back muscles that will still allow me to play the next day?

2) Speed, agility, and fitness - This previous post addresses this issue in some ways. My issue however is stopping and starting and just general bursts of speed. In one 60-90 second shift, I find that when I'm skating hard I can only come to a full stop and sprint at least once, or if I'm digging around the boards, one battle and I'm done. My overall endurance and aerobic fitness is good, and I've done interval training on the treadmill, but is there something that I could be doing that could increase this specific hockey stop/start aerobic facility?

3) Hand-Eye coordination - This is just getting worse somehow. My passes are constantly behind or in front of my target. I frequently lose the puck while attempting to deke. I've tried juggling and do lots of off-ice puckhandling - What's the secret here?

That's pretty must the gist of it, however I'm totally open to any other random training tips or resources (books/videos) anyone might have found useful on another level, or if any fellow hockey lovers can recommend any other forums or sources of knowledge to check out that might have relevant discussions, I would be most grateful!

(Go Islanders. Ahem)
posted by LongDrive to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I had to give up my beloved hockey after I lost two disks in my lower back in an auto accident. I'm still sad about it.

I found that for tightness, yoga or pilates is awesome. You get flexibility and a very strong core, which is essential for a proper stance.

Speed and agility, cardio and weght lifting. I found that stamina was what I needed, so treadmill with variable speeds and inclines worked great.

Hand/Eye coordination, you got me. I'm pretty much blind in my left eye and have NO depth perception. I maneuver in the world using perspective. It worked great for me in hockey since following a flat puck on a flat surface is as two dimentional as you get in the world of sports.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:05 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My friend Chad recently programmed a sport specific microcycle on his training blog. Chad is a former Junior B hockey player, so his specific examples relate to hockey.

You may want to shoot him an email, to boot -- the tightness may be muscular imbalance rather than an actual issue of flexibility, so you may just need to do some strength work to balance things out. Chad can probably suggest a couple diagnostic tests.
posted by bfranklin at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: Well, squats and deadlifts would definitely help with your back and hips. The problem is, your muscles don't develop when you workout, they develop during the days following when you rest. So, if you don't get rest afterwards, your muscles can't strengthen, and you won't see the benefit. If you're planning to do hockey 3 days a week, it's going to be hard to get the rest you'll need for your muscles.

You may also try doing some weight lifting, but changing up how you do it. For example, if you were doing lots of sets of lots of reps, try doing more of a 5/3/1 workout (where you do sets with very few repetitions at high weights)

The first thing you should do is make sure that you get enough protein and rest, so that what development you are making during hockey isn't wasted. Also, it would be a good idea to drink a protein shake immediately after playing hockey, since directly after a workout your muscles are best able to take up nutrients.

Yoga is a good idea for tightness. It won't necessarily cure you of all of your aches, but may help to increase your core strength and flexibility enough to help somewhat.

Can you do some interval training on the ice rink? That would probably be the best way to increase your sprints while playing hockey, since the muscles you need for ice work are different than the ones you need for running.
posted by markblasco at 7:30 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

1) When playing after taking the summer off, it always took about a month for my back to re-adjust to hockey. Though sounds like you're playing enough that you should "break through" the initial wear in, but aren't ? That leads me to my #1 advice (and how I ended my playing career) - take time to recover, don't play hurt. (Tendinitis - I can't hold a stick and shoot a puck any more, banged my elbows up too much).

So how is your skating form ? If you grew up playing, I'd assume you know all the fundamentals, but if you're still having back issues, is there a skating instructor you can have a session with to go over your form ?

2) Public sessions. I'd go over to the rink on my lunch hour (since it's 5 minutes away) and do sprint/recovery sessions etc. No dry land stuff - on ice. Nice time to go because it's empty, and rink manager asks me to not "dig up the ice", so she wouldn't have to zam it. Nothing beats going out and doing it. Things like the 3-line drill, goal line to goal line sprints, cross over/unders, forwards, backwards etc etc. When playing, a good 30 second shift (as a D), grinding in the defensive corners would wear anyone out - grinding is hard.

3) I was never a good puck handler, can't help here. I was the goon beating on you in front of the net or in the corners.
posted by k5.user at 7:59 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would recommend seeing a good personal trainer or physical therapist. I recently spent a couple hours with one and found it to be more efficient and effective than cobbling workout routines together. The therapist was able to target exactly what I needed to do to move better. I was pretty surprised by how much they could tell about the muscle imbalances in my body simply by watching me do a few exercises. There's a lot you might miss about the way you move when you aren't educated about muscle groups and don't watch yourself on film. They sent me home with a personalized workout routine designed to deal with the imbalances and strengthen the muscles I use for hockey and running. I've been using the routine for a few weeks and I have to say it's been pretty effective in improving my recovery time and helping me avoid weird aches and pains.
posted by rhythm and booze at 1:56 PM on January 22, 2013

If your hand / eye coordination is gradually getting a bit worse, it might be worth getting your eyes tested.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 11:20 PM on January 25, 2013

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