Off-Season Part 1: Lockdown Edition

As things start to tighten up again here in Ontario, it’s looking more and more likely that at least another month of at-home workouts is on the horizon. Taking care of the health and fitness of my goalies this past season has been more challenging than most. The biggest challenge has been writing programs for my goalies with the uncertainty of when hockey will return. In an ordinary off-season, the timeline is fairly set in stone, and knowing when to work on different physical qualities is just a matter of following the tried-and-true recipe of strength coaches before me. This year, however, has been like a never-ending off-season. While various hockey seasons have attempted to start, none have gained traction, and the goal of what to work on has seemed like an ever-moving target.

That being said, April is here, and despite the restrictions facing Ontarians, the fact that vaccinations are taking place in growing numbers makes me optimistic that we’ll have a somewhat-normal start to the 2021-22 hockey season in the fall. An ordinary off-season would start in around May, so at least a stretched out off-season program will make some sense if we begin right now.

So, as I finish putting together everyone’s home plans for April, here are the theme’s I’m working with for the month of April.

1. Mobilize – We’re going to take this time where performance is not the top priority to address mobility. Give attention to every joint at some point throughout the week, head to toe (including toes!) This can be done in a variety of ways: banded stretches, active range of motion exercises such as CARS (Controlled Articular Rotations), end range joint work such as PAILs and RAILs (Progressive and Regressive Angular Isometric Loading), and static stretching. Putting these in the right places in your April program can have a huge impact on your ability to train effectively in the coming months, so it’s well worth the investment now.

2. Stabilize – As we make progress in our mobility, we have to give equal attention to increasing our stability. That’s a pretty broad term, which can include a few different types of stability. One is core stability, which is your body’s ability to resist external forces to keep your trunk stable. This can include things like planks or anti-rotation exercises such as a paloff press. It can also include full body stability or balance, doing things like bird dogs or single leg exercises that place a demand on your ability to remain stable through movement.

3. Full Range of Motion with Control – As important as it is to develop mobility and stability, we still have to address gaining some size and strength in our whole body. Right now, we’re focusing on basic movements, going through as much of a full range of motion as you can with control. We’re keeping the load manageable and making progress through gains in usable range of motion and increases in control at the end range, where a lot of the demand on these goalies is.

What these concepts look like for each goalie is a bit different obviously depending on their, age, experience, and their individual strengths and weaknesses. We’ll have enough variety to keep things fresh, but we’ll be working with these themes for all of April and likely into a bit of May as well. I’m excited to set the foundation for an awesome summer of training for all my athletes with this phase of training.

If you have any questions about any of these concepts, or how to incorporate them into your own training, send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out!

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