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Victorious Hockey Weekly: What Should Dryland Training Accomplish? Junior Hockey News

Published: Wednesday, 11 Sep 2019  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Why are we talking about dryland training now? Because way too many players get so caught up in the team selection process that they forget that THIS part of the game is every bit as important as what happens on the ice and classroom.

IS this just an off season thing? World class athletes have to excel in every area of development to maintain the edge. Are you on the National Hockey League watch list? If your answer is no, there's still work to be done. 

Now ask yourself, how much spare time do you really have to get the extra work in? 

Coach Littler asked us to share this information from Jack Blatherwick.

What Should Dryland Training Accomplish?
For 150 years, hockey coaches have NOT been asked to outline the purpose of dryland training.  Instead, it was left to strength coaches, scientists, and fitness instructors to tell players what to do. 
In 1947, Anatoli Tarasov was named to develop players at the beginning of the Soviet Union’s hockey program.  He came to North America to study the game (and studied NBA basketball by the way), and concluded that: dryland and on-ice workouts should focus on “Speed of hands, speed of feet, and speed of mind.”
In other words, dryland training was designed to improve hockey abilities.
Imagine that.  North American coaches could have said dryland training should enhance hockey abilities.  Not necessarily how to do it, just give strength coaches some direction as to what matters in a game.
 But strength coaches decided on their own that hockey players should train for strength in exactly the same way football was training nose tackles. 
Furthermore, lab scientists told hockey players to train for endurance like marathoners or bicyclists – long, slow distances.  “Cardio” it was called.
Cardiovascular fitness is very important, and fitness centers were (wisely) having their adult couch-potato-athletes do long, slow aerobic training. Anything explosive might have caused a heart attack.  But they (unwisely) told young hockey players that ‘cardio’ should be long and slow.
What is needed of course, is speed –not slow repetitions permanently imprinted into the Central Nervous System (CNS).
‘Core training’ became the rage, because couch-potatoes wanted six-pack abs to look great at the beach.  Side note: I watched this fad evolve over the decades, and I have to tell you: looking great without a shirt on was a real challenge for some couch potatoes. 
So, we isolated core muscles lying on mats to challenge six-pack abs that were hidden under a layer of fat.  But research shows that isolating muscles (rectus abdominis or ANY muscle) has little to do with increasing dynamic athleticism, the kind we see in the NBA, NFL, or NHL (Google: Stuart McGill).
Athleticism requires that the entire large group of core muscles must work synergistically with muscles that move limbs.
Read that sentence again before you send a youngster to train ‘core.’
How can core workouts help young hockey players develop athleticism plus skating power and efficiency?  The answer is to put it all together in highly dynamic whole-body movements where the core muscles work in concert with others.  Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe had it right 70 years ago when scientists, strength coaches, and fitness gurus weren’t involved in hockey.
 As kids, they chopped wood, baled hay, and lifted heavy logs with their whole body.
They ran hills and played other sports.
That way the CNS was learning how to create synergy with all the muscles in their body.
Had hockey coaches been asked, they would have said – as Tarasov did – ‘An ideal dryland program should help young athletes build speed, quickness, agility, and explosive strength, along with skating efficiency, power, and endurance.’
The word ‘slow’ would not have come up.  Then strength coaches and scientists would have used their expertise to train young kids differently than adults – even differently than elite older hockey players.
The CNS is involved at all times (except perhaps in Washington DC).  It observes and memorizes every repetition as we train, not just the reps we’d like to remember.  We become what we repeat most often.  Given that, why would we ever practice slowness or isolate core muscles if we had 150 years to think about it? Player Profiles
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Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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