Game On Magazine November 2015 - Page 12

T A.J. Zeglen Photo by Jeff Miller Why working out will make you a better hockey player The Blues Kamerin Nault, in an effort to play NCAA Division 1 hockey, works out at Focus Fitness both on and off the ice. He’s had at least three scholarship offers before his final year of junior. O ne of the most frequent questions we are asked when individuals start contemplating a strength and conditioning program is this: “How will working out make me a better hockey player?” Like anything else, there are no guarantees in life and just because you work out does not mean you will make it to the NHL. But here is the good news: It will give you the opportunity to be better. We do not get unlimited chances to have the things we want and nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have made a difference. If what you want is to play hockey at the highest level of your potential, the best thing you can do is to start working out. Here’s why: (1) Engaging in a strength and conditioning program will teach you how to move your body more effectively and efficiently. (2) It will increase both your aerobic and anaerobic capabilities, which means you will be stronger, more powerful and more fit. (3) It will improve your reaction time, improve coordination and balance and make you faster. (4) Perhaps the biggest benefit will be the character and confidence you build to go with strength and speed. As you can see there are many benefits to a proper strength and conditioning program that directly translates to a multitude of sports. But here is the slight catch with hockey more so then any other sport. You can be as big and strong and fast as you want, but it will not transfer over to your hockey game unless you know how to skate. This seems obvious, but it is sometimes forgotten. Hockey is a very unique sport in the fact that it requires a 12 GAME ON NOVEMBER 2015 double skill set. With its shooting, stick handling and passing, it encompasses all the similar skills that other sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and football do. But those sports are all played on your feet, which is the same situation you find yourself in the gym and that’s why the carryover from one to the other is so great. In hockey you find yourself on skates, an inch off the playing surface, and skating is a completely different skill set. If it were as simple as just getting stronger then the world’s strongest man would also be the world’s faster skater and, of course, we know that’s not true. Gaining strength and power in the gym only puts you in a better position to become a faster skater. It gives you an opportunity, but you still have to go out and work on your skating. This is how it looks in an ideal situation: Athlete increases lower-body strength by performing squats in the gym. Athlete takes new-found strength and produces force more quickly by focusing on power movements in the gym. Athlete takes newly developed strength and power and applies it to his or her perfect skating stride and just like that you have a faster skater. Sounds easy right? In theory it is, but in reality it will take countless hours of hard work. However, don’t let that discourage you. By choosing not to train, it is almost a certainty that you will not succeed, but by choosing to train you have given yourself an opportunity -- you have put yourself in the best position to be successful. If your goal is to play hockey at a high level, then in the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: “So, you’re saying there’s a chance.” Until next time: Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment. n