Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extra Edge Academy- Facility Review


On Tuesday, April 19th, I had the opportunity to tour the Extra Edge Academy with head instructors Devin Edgerton & Grant Marshall, and for any hockey coach, player, parent or trainer, I highly recommend this unique and outstanding facility.

Foremost, what sets Extra Edge Academy apart is it's attention to detail, and sport-specific hockey training.  This place isn't Gold Gyms with a Synthetic Ice surface.  Every activity is carefully planned to develop the body to perform better on the ice.  In the process of setting themselves apart, they use modern technology ( like a synthetic ice treadmill, computer- based read & react stickhandling, and synthetic ice shooting range with computer functionality) to accelerate the process.

I find it inspiring to be around opened minded people who challenge themselves to push the limits, to see how good they can become.  When I was a kid, my Father would travel to my hockey camps, practices and skill clinics, and take notes in order to further develop his coaching philosophy.  Many of these ideas became the basis for his 3 part "Ultimate Hockey Drill Book".  Coaches have to be a student of the game, and not seek like-minded people, but rather people who think outside the box and challenge the accepted practices.  In my half- hour interaction with Devin Edgerton I saw a coach/ trainer who not only shared a lot of my same viewpoints, but also implemented my Father's teaching in making "Extra Edge Academy".  Over the course of Devin's decade long pro career, he took bits and pieces of training programs from his coaches (in the US, Canada, and Europe), expanded and developed what he learned to create his own Optimal Program.  Here is his philosophy-

The Extra Edge Academy  is a training facility for hockey players  designed, managed, and staffed by hockey players. We believe that our trainers  understand the sport at a granular level to provide a focused program that’s proven and successful.

Our goal is simple – push our students to become the best hockey players they can be. To accommodate this objective, The Academy  is staffed with some of the best hockey trainers available. Our trainers are hockey players that have collegiate to pro-level experience and have a deep knowledge of what it takes to succeed on and off the ice. They have developed and trained  youth, high school, club, minor and major league hockey players.

Our programs encompass a wide range of training techniques taking the best from both North American and European styles. This synergistic approach gives our students an edge that’s unique and effective.

In conclusion, I was amazed by this place.  The facility is currently almost booked out to capacity, as it is quickly becoming THE HOCKEY TRAINING facility in NJ.  As my wife knows, it is my dream to one day open up a similar facility in New Hampshire, using many of the products and services that Extra Edge provides... So in many ways I truly thank Devin and Grant for allowing me in to their building, making my mental notes and giving me the VIP tour.  This is a hockey place for hockey players, and I wish I had discovered it 20 years ago when I was playing.

There is no question that if you have the desire and commitment, Extra Edge will make you a better player.  If you are willing to work hard, this facility is the BEST place to make your skills and strength dramatically better.


Contact Extra Edge Academy for how to join-
20 Chapin Rd, Pine Brook, NJ, 07058

Monday, April 11, 2011

Improve Foot Speed Off- Ice

Power and Foot Speed make skaters dynamic.  As a kid I went to a number of Laura Stamm clinics and camps, and her system has become the backbone of what I teach to my students.  Dave Andreychuk is the prime of example of the Stamm foundation, "It's not how fast your feet are moving, but rather how much ice you are pushing".  Yet, to be a DYNAMIC hockey player, and dynamic skater, the truth lies somewhere in between.  You need BOTH powerful strides, and quick feet.
Most players think that this can be accomplished strictly when they are skating, but the reality is that strength and power, as well as, foot speed are traits that are transplanted onto the ice, from off-ice development.
Here are some pointers for players who are already good skaters, but want to train off the ice to become dynamic skaters.

1) Speed Training with Ankle Weights-  People lift weights to get stronger and run to get faster. Training with ankle weights can combine both of those concepts. By using these weights in your speed workouts, you will become faster without having to alter the drills you are comfortable with.  Wearing the weights when going through different speed drills forces your body to work harder than normal because you are carrying extra weight. Thus, when you finish your training, your speed will have improved because of the added weight you were carrying. By wearing the weights around your ankle, instead of elsewhere, such as a weighted vest, you are ensuring that your legs get the added workload.  In addition, Ankle weights are simple to use, and inexpensive.  Most use Velcro to keep the weight in place. Once attached, the weights will be effective in any speed training that you do. Running while wearing them will improve your long-distance speed as well as your foot speed through sprint drills. The key to successful use is commitment, they will not be effective if used sparingly, and while effective, ankle weights do have their downside. The workouts can be strenuous on different areas of the leg, and can cause pain if used for too long The knees are an especially delicate area for these workouts.   My recommendation is to use these for long distance runs not exceeding 35minutes, and to use them on smooth surfaces.  Start off with very light weight and gradually build up.  I even use these on-ice with my private lesson students.

2) Sand or Beach Training- My recommendation is to do this at off-peak beach hours so that you don't annoy sunbathers.  Beach training (either running for distance, up hills, change of directions, using ladders, or doing plyometric exercises) adds an amazing amount of resistance to basic cardio exercises, and has been the foundation for the Junior Program I coach with's tremendous success.  Performing the exercises in the below video will challenge you to go beyond what you as an athlete think you can handle, and utilizes stability and balance muscles that you probably didn't even know you had.

3) Plyometrics- Simply put the combination of speed and strength is power.  Throughout this century and no doubt long before, jumping, bounding and hopping exercises have been used in various ways to enhance athletic performance. In recent years, this distinct method of training for power or explosiveness has been termed plyometrics. Whatever the origins of the word the term is used to describe the method of training that seeks to enhance the explosive reaction of the individual through powerful muscular contractions because of rapid muscle contractions.  My first encounter with plyometrics was an a kid when I attended several summer hockey schools, and we performed bounding, leaping, or explosive muscle movements that were designed to improve your leg strength and skating ability.  I've incorporated many of these movements and added others to use with the teams I coach.  If practiced twice a week for the length of an entire season, a team's overall speed will increase at least 10%.  Your players will be better conditioned and better athletes as well.  Below is a chart with some basic movements you can perform to enhance your speed.  Just pick a field or track and give it a try...

4) Treadmill Workouts (Hill Training)- Treadmills have always been boring to me, but when used as a devise to make hills, they can be an amazing way to increase your speed.  Hill training is great for athletes engaged in sports that involve running, because hill training enhances running economy, and functional strength. However, outdoor hill workouts can be problematic under windy and wet conditions - or for athletes who live in flat regions of the country. Fortunately you can carry out your 'hill training' indoors on a treadmill - and often get a better workout than would be the case outside!  Although most athletes recognize that treadmills can simulate hills and that it is possible to get a great workout on a treadmill, they are often stumped by two key questions: how fast should the treadmill speed be set? How much of an inclination should be utilized?   For starters, try a hill speed and incline that you can sustain for 2 to 3 minutes.  Although that is longer than the average shift in a hockey game, it will build up for strength, and be a good indicator for which you can build a program around.  Challenge yourself each week to slightly increase both the speed and incline, and also combine the incline with interval training, so that you develop the long distance cardiovascular fitness that can sustain you for the 60 minutes of a hockey game.  Before you know it, you will have dramatic success.

We all know some players are born faster than others... but that is NO excuse for not becoming as fast as you can become!