Flexibility is important in any exercise program. It is essentially important in hockey where players use many different muscles to help them speed up, slow down, skate backwards, and change directions rapidly. A hockey player should get a warm up before a game, practice or workout. This warm up should include stretches which are hockey specific (focus on hamstrings, calf muscles, lower back, and hips). A well-planned stretching routing helps a player prepare his muscles for action, hence preventing injury. Flexibility allows a player to react more quickly. So do take the time and STRETCH!
2) Long Distance Cardiovascular Conditioning-
For a hockey player to get up and down the ice effectively during their shifts, an entire game and season, they must build up their aerobic and anaerobic systems. The aerobic system is used for long stretches on the ice while the anaerobic system is used for quick bursts of speed. Each important for its own reasons. Building an aerobic base gives players greater energy to play longer and helps them recover faster from lactic acid build up. An anaerobic base gives players the ability to perform quick energy surges. Start first in the early months of your off-season by building a core base of cardiovascular health (running of 2 miles, cycling of 5 miles, or the eliptical machine for 30-45 minutes). As your system adjusts you will build, and be able to perform these activities with greater speed or resistance. Within the last 6 weeks of off-season conditioning start to incorporate anaerobic activities to develop quick bursts of speed. Yet, remember, you need the foundation before you can build the house!
Nutrition is perhaps the one element that we as hockey players are most forgetful of. We must remember it is the fuel that makes our bodies go! Many of you will feel that your summer is you “down time,” a time to have a few pops and eat cheeseburgers while watching women’s beach volleyball on the couch. Wrong! You are entering adulthood. It is now time that your body must be worked harder and more often if it wishes to maintain shape. Think before you eat and make sure you are always drinking plenty of water. The best way to build muscle is to focus on eating large amounts of protein heavy food in the off-season. During the regular season, you will need to replenish lost energy so carbohydrates will come more into the picture... but a carbohydrate heavy diet in the off-season can result in unnecessary weight gain. An 8oz. glass of water before your meal is always the best start.
I am in no way endorsing steroids or performance enhancing drugs, but a well balanced regiment of essential and safe vitamins and minerals will improve your overall health. These can be purchased right over the counter at your local CVS or GNC. Here are 3 essentials-
1. Multi-vitamin- Taking a multivitamin/multimineral supplement like Centrum daily can help ensure you get recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals important for overall health and well-being.
2. Glutamine- Athletes take glutamine supplements in order to prevent muscle breakdown and to improve immune system functioning.
3. Fish oil capsules (Omega- 3 Fatty Acids)- Essential fats, Fish Oils are promoted to help support a healthy heart. This dietary supplement is used to add to a healthy diet. Recent studies have shown that these may even help the prevention of concussions.