Thursday, May 19, 2011

Partner Skill Drills

Partner Skill Drills are a great way for coaches to keep all their athletes involved, greatly increase skill and athleticism, and dramatically improve your overall conditioning level in a creative, competitive environment, without looking like punishment.
Here is a list of some of my Favorites...
1) Mirror Drills w/ wo pucks
Have 2 players facing one another.  One plays the leader and the other has to reacte to the movements of the other partner like he is looking into a mirror.  Blow a whistle everything 30 seconds to switch the roles.  This will enhance athleticism in a creative way, and develop body and edge control. 
2) Tag Chase
Have both players place their sticks together to create a long divider, and have players face each other on each side of the sticks.  Basic game of tag, except players can't go over the sticks only around, and players must stay within 5 feet of the sticks at all times.
3) Attack the Tri-Pod
One player has the puck, and the other is set with his legs wide and stick out in front, making a tri-pod.  Player with the puck attacks the non-puck player, creatively stickhandling in and around his body.  Works on not only stick skills, but also edge control, balance and thinking skills.  Switch after 30 seconds.
4) Pendulum Puck protection
One player is positioned in front of the other.  Player in front controls the puck, and the player behind is on his knees with his stick out in front.  The player positioned behind will steadily swing his stick on the ice in s half- circle pattern.  The player in front will need to control the puck and leap over the swinging stick.  Works balance, athleticism, coordination, and puck control skills.  Switch after 30 seconds.
5) Puck Protection Battles
Laconia Leafs Gm/ Coach Will Fay told me had a friend who went to a practice of squirt-aged players in Finland, and saw them practice puck protection battles for almost 40 minutes of an hour long practice.  Make the only rule being that players can't escape out of a 5 foot imaginary circle that encapsulates the battle.  Players need to learn how to think quickly, use their bodies to protect the puck, keep their head up, and also the defensive skills necessary win puck battles.  These skills need to be learned by DOING.
6) 3 Pass Figure 8 Drill
Have 1 player drop their gloves 5-8 feet apart.  The player without the puck will explode up through the middle of the gloves, and then backskate outside the right of the gloves.  Then explode up through the middle of the gloves again, before backskating outside the left of the gloves, completing a figure 8 pattern.  Repeat this for 30 seconds.  The player with pucks will make 3 passes to this player (middle, right of glove, and left of glove) in a rapid fashion, one-timing it back each time.  Switch after 30 seconds.
7) Flat stick stickhandling
Have one partner lie his stick on the ice, and the other, for 30 seconds at a time, dangle up, around, and over the flat stick.  To ramp up the conditioning element, have the other player who is not participating do either pushups, sit ups or jumps.  Switch after 30 seconds.
8) Pushes or Pulls
Have players pattern up and take them through a series of resistance powerskating.  First try a player in front going forward pulling the player in kneeling in back.  Then try this with the player in front going backwards.  Then try it with the player in front performing powerskating drills such as the "hourglass drill", "Right or left T- pushes", or "Right, left or alternating C-Cuts".
Try also Pushes with the players facing one another.  This alters the center of gravity and pressure point of each player, forcing them to use slightly different muscles to sustain themselves.  Use the same sequences as mentioned with the pull drills.

These drills are a great way to start or end any practice.  If done for 5-10 minutes, it will greatly improve the overall skills of all the members involved, and can be done with any age from mite to pro.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Overlooked Essentials to an OUTSTANDING Off-season Workout Program

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!
3) Nutrition-

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.
4) Supplements-
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.