Gaining Strength for Speed in the Crease

Whether it is a post out, butterfly to full recovery, powerslide or explosive movement within the crease we need strength. Most, if not all of our power is generated from our legs in order to get square and set in time for the initial shot. Matt Jenkins has touched upon the flexibility and mobility aspect in the article Closing holes for fewer goals (insert link here charlie) Therefore, I have invited guest blogger Paul Hudson: Strength and Conditioning Coach @ Hudson Strength to touch on a few major strength training concepts every goalie can introduce to their game…

Off ice training has become a must for hockey players in today’s game. The game has become a much faster version of years passed and it seems as though if you aren’t putting in the time off of the ice your development is going to fall behind quickly.

As a goaltender flexibility, mobility, and strength are three aspects of your off ice training that will have a major effect on your performance. More specifically, this article will touch on the importance of strength training and how it can improve your game.

What is strength? Muscular strength refers to the power and capacity of muscles and connective tissue elements to undergo stress and strain in order to achieve a variety of activities by pulling, pushing, stretching, extending and flexing different joints of the body. Not only does strength refer to muscles and connective tissue but also, it is the peak force the neuromuscular system is capable of exerting in a single movement or maximal voluntary contraction.

This definition may seem confusing, so think about what strength means in terms of being a goalie. For example, a goaltender with a good level of strength will have the ability to push off of a post hard and fast to move cross crease to make a save. It is critical as a goaltender to be in the right position, you need to have the strength in your hips and legs to ensure your body is in the best position possible to make the save.

Increasing your strength through a systematic resistance-training program allows you to be quicker in full recovery and more powerful through your T-push’s cross crease. If you break down a couple of the movements you do as a goalie, leg strength is crucial to positioning. Having the strength in one leg to push cross crease while in the butterfly, or having the increased strength to move from the post to the top of the crease. Simple movements like kneeling into a butterfly then quickly repositioning yourself in a standing position requires strength.

Take into consideration the split squat. This movement is performed one leg at a time with resistance to increase single leg strength and flexibility. In addition, performing a split squat in a rotational movement, lateral position, or conventionally, this exercise is increasing single leg strength in positions that mimic the ones you will be in as a goaltender.

Progressing from a split squat to a barbell back squat slightly changes the focus of the exercise. When looking at increasing overall quickness and power in your movement, the back squat increases a goalies power and performance by training the body to maximize output. Increasing your strength teaches the body to function at a more efficient and effective rate by challenging the body to produce an increased level of output. The body will begin to adapt over the course of your training period generating an increased level of power and strength.

Utilizing plyometric and more dynamic movements like a box jump or broad jump partnered with such exercises as the split squat and back squat can further improve your performance in the crease. As previously mentioned, strength and power are two important aspects of being in the right position. An exercise like the box jump or broad jump teaches your body how to be more explosive and develop speed. Jumping and plyometric movements are complicated and require an increased level of stability and coordination of the body. Athletes should not perform plyometric movements until they have established a good level of stability throughout their joints and movement patters. As a result, a goalie who has trained their body to jump higher and generate an increased level of power will see direct results in their quickness in recovery positions and movements throughout the crease. This movement is directly related to having the ability to get up from a kneeling position to a standing position as fast as possible. In addition, strength and power in a full range back squat partnered with improving jumping abilities is an equation that will ensure improvements in speed and quickness.

Stronger muscles and nervous system also contribute to strong bones and joints by promoting healthy ligaments and tendons. In this regard, Individuals who have strong muscles and those who continue to strength train will maintain muscular strength and develop a structurally sound body. This is critical to injury prevention and longevity throughout the season. Strength training increases your bodies’ ability to handle the workload from the season. Increasing strength through the course of the summer and maintaining strength through the season will increase your ability to avoid injury and keep you in the game.

Considering what strength means as a definition, applying that to skill development on ice, becoming a stronger faster goalie is only going to improve your save percentage.

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