WARNING: This article is edgy. On purpose. I'm making no friends here. Whether you agree or disagree with what I say below, it's stuff that needs to be said.
"Damn, my shins hurt like a motherf***er."
Not my words.
One of my hockey players had just returned from a week long try-out with a pro club in the early off-season.
When he left he was in the best shape of his career. Stronger, faster and leaner than ever before.
No joint issues whatsoever.
Not even the slightest hint of muscle tightness to speak of.
The poster boy for physical health.
And now he was back with a piercing pain in his lower leg. "Damn, my shins hurt like a motherf***er", he told me.
The pain prevented us from doing certain lower body lifts, jumps and sprints in preparation for the upcoming season.
You can imagine I wasn't happy about this AT ALL...
"Man, what the hell did they make you do over there?" I asked, baffled, while thinking about all the changes we'd have to make in his summer training program because of this silly setback.
Turns out, players at this pro club were pounding the pavement (a.k.a. jogging) for an hour or so pretty much every day during off-season training, adding a ton of unnecessary wear and tear on their joints.
And did a ridiculous amount of jumps, hops and bounds that left the players exhausted from their workouts - but not any faster, more explosive or more athletic.
The guy in charge of off-ice training at this club was their VIDEO coach.
(You read that right)
Not someone who has ever studied the science of physical performance.
Let alone a qualified strength and conditioning coach with real-world experience and a proven track record of making players physically better in any shape or form.
They hired a guy whose job consists of sitting at a computer all day, slicing, dicing and reviewing game action to oversee the health and performance of their multi-million roster.
Let that sink in for a minute...
And here's the kicker:
While the athletes were practicing, this "coach" sat there playing on his smart phone.
(Probably scrolling through his Instagram feed for inspiration on which exercise to do next)
What a joke... but there's nothing funny about it.
And this wasn't one isolated incident, either.
My athletes are constantly telling me how clueless their "physical preparation" coaches are and the silly things they do in the weight room or outside on the turf or track.
Doesn't matter whether we're talking youth hockey, elite junior, D1 college, professional clubs...
Even at the highest levels of competitive hockey, athletes are subjected to absurd off-ice training methods that leave them slow, weak and injury-prone.
Every summer I work with guys whose bodies have been physically abused to the point where they're hobbling around with knee, hip or low back pain.
Many enter our off-season training program having lost strength, size and all their explosiveness because their team doesn't train for strength and power in-season.
My job is to fix them.
Get rid of the kinks...
Add a few pounds of lean muscle to their frames...
Set new personal records in the weight room...
Make them faster than they were last season...
When they leave for training camp, they're in better shape than ever.
FIT and RIPPED.
Then they go on to play the best season of their career. That's no coincidence.
Which all makes me wonder:
If practically EVERY hockey player at the junior, college and pro level does jump exercises as a part of their off-ice training plan...
Yet the vast majority doesn't get any faster or more explosive from it...
While many develop joint issues as a side effect...
Then that means we're doing more harm than good to our athletes.
The overuse injuries accumulated.
The hips, knees and lower backs destroyed.
The pursuit of greater athleticism and performance, gone wrong.
I can't take it anymore.
Something's gotta change in the way we approach jump training with hockey players.
That change starts here. Today.
#1. Athletes, coaches and teams place more importance on physical preparation than ever.
In spite of this, their jump training is terribly old-fashioned for preparing players for the game of hockey.
#2. Many are still stuck in what I call the "1980's way" of training.
That's where the effectiveness of your speed/power workouts is measured by how TIRED you get - not by how much faster and more explosive you become.
Players get hurt, develop overuse injuries, and see their performance take a dive.
#3. There's a better, smarter way to train.
One that spares your joints.
And gives you the performance gains you seek.