Why an Off-Season Training Program is Important for Goalies

goalie strength condition stretching drills

Chris Sharkey is a former goalie having played multiple years at the AAA level before playing Junior A in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Chris is now the Performance Manager of Acumen Performance & Reconditioning in Edmonton and Calgary. There he focuses on helping athletes unlock their potential with proper off-season training programs designed to maximize flexibility, strength and endurance. Chris has specifically designed programs for goalies which help correct posture imbalances, improve explosiveness and prepare the body for the demands of the modern day goalie.

Acumen Performance offers online distance coaching to help improve a goalie’s strength and conditioning. Contact them for more information.

What is Off-Season Training?

Off-season training is where goalies switch gears from in-season play to post-season work, translating to future improvements on and off the ice. During the spring and summer months, athletes work to develop their skills and potential as an athlete. Off-season training is dedicated time to improve physical and mental performance off the ice, create new bonds with individuals who share mutual goals, reduce the risk of potential injury, and most importantly, have some fun!

Why is Off-Season Training Important? 

Goalies, have you been told you need to get better, faster, and stronger? It is a pretty common comment for coaches of all levels to say and we are here to help.

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Reducing the risk of injury

Throughout a hockey season, a goalie adapts to the required patterns and postures needed by the position. This can create imbalances as with anything that we do “too much” of. Common nuisances in hockey include tight hip flexors, decreased ankle range of motion, anterior (front) shoulder pain, wrist injuries, and groin injuries and we address these common areas.

All athletes across all positions must have the ability to maintain both muscular balance, postural balance, and control to avoid hindrances. Through proper training, we can improve proper muscle balance, structural support, and the capability to sustain core control.

Strength

It is no surprise that an athlete needs to be strong to play the sport of hockey. Off-season training is specifically designed to build up the athletes’ overall strength. Strength transfers to power and speed which are all crucial for hockey. Being well rounded in upper and lower body strength can play an integral role in an goalie’s ability to play the puck and a strong recovery and push following a save. Increasing core stability helps an athlete connect their upper body strength to their lower body strength. Not only is strength training important for these aspects of the sport but proper coaching and training helps improve body awareness and proprioception. Body awareness involves being aware of one’s body position in space and tuning in to the messages from the body’s muscles, organs, bones, and connective tissue. There is no better place to learn this positioning and awareness than in a controlled environment of training.

Speed, agility, and Change of Direction (COD)

Some may say that this is the most important aspect of the game. Being able to skate with power and speed allows athletes to be quick, agile, recover quickly to rebounds, and move across the crease quick and efficiently. Improvements in this area of performance are best enhanced when utilizing exercises that closely mimic the demands. This can be accomplished through exercises such as horizontal jump training (unilateral and bilateral), lateral jump training (unilateral and bilateral), loaded vertical jump training, sport-specific speed/agility/COD training, and general speed/agility/COD training.

Conditioning

Hockey is unique in that it requires high demands and efficiency from both aerobic and anaerobic capacities. Hockey is characterized by high-intensity intermittent skating rapid changes in velocity and duration and frequent body contact. The intensity of the sport as a goalie, with flurries of activity in the defensive zone combined with being in the entire game, requires both energy systems. A focus on proper periodization and development of these energy systems can help with overall conditioning and reducing fatigue to again reduce the risk of potential injury.

Change in Focus

After playing hockey for 8 months out of the year, summer is the athlete’s time to decompress. Hockey seasons can be stressful and tiring. Regardless, the offseason should allow:

  • Physical break: The athletes get to take a break from skating and address the muscle imbalances that occur during the season. Also, gives the body proper time to recover from ongoing injuries or aches and pain.

  • Mental break: Athletes get a chance to shift their mindset, reset their goals, and focus on preparing without outside factors playing a bigger role (schedules, injuries, making mistakes, etc). Training in a controlled environment will help athletes this way.

  • Enjoy! The athlete gets to train, have a great off-season, and not worry about crazy schedules. This is probably one of the most important mental boosters of the entire off-season. The off-season is something every athlete should look forward to, to work hard, gain confidence, have fun and become a more well-rounded athlete for the next season.

 

What to Expect?

Off-season training is a big commitment, but so is hockey. Off-season training is rewarding where athletes can unlock new physical potentials and meet the sport demands.  At Acumen the off-season program starts with a movement and performance assessment. This allows us to properly program for a goalie’s specific needs and goals. We will also periodically reassess and test for continual improvements. This will also dictate how we periodize programs for the summer for athletes. We also believe recovery is a very important aspect of training and taking care of any nagging injuries. We offer online distance coaching for goalies all around the world. Check out Acumen’s pricing structure or you can contact us for more information. Our team of Sports Medicine professionals and Strength Coaches are here to help you through this journey as a person and as an athlete. It’s a time to grow-Join us today!

3 Must-Use Exercises for a Goalie’s Off-Season Training

Perform exercises at your own risk. Please refer to our Terms of Use for more information.

Hip 90/90s

Adductor Thread the Needle

Half Kneeling 3 Way Ankle MOB

 

References

Tyler, T. F., Nicholas, S. J., Campbell, R. J., & McHugh, M. P. (2001). The association of hip strength and flexibility with the incidence of adductor muscle strains in professional ice hockey players. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(2), 124-128.

Brughelli, M., Cornin, J., Levin, G., Chaouachi, A. (2008) Understand Change of Direction Ability in Sport: A review of Resistance Training Studies. Journal of Sports Medicine 38 912): 1045-63

Montgomery, D.L., (1988) Physiology of Ice Hockey. American Journal of Sports Medicine. (20):99-126.

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