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How to Take Care of Your Ice Hockey Skates

It is supposed that taking care for ice skates is not important at all. However, one must give proper care to a pair of skates for them to last long. It is possible that your skates get cleaned out within months or weeks if they are not taken proper care of.

When you are off the ice and still wearing skates, ensure that you wear rubber or plastic skate guards over skate blades without fail. Skate guards help to protect the blades from grit and hard surfaces that quickly ruin a well-sharpened blade. Also, it keeps the skate guards at the border of the ice and places them on your skate blades even if you are off the ice for a while. A very important point to remember is that when you are not using skates; do not leave skate guards on the blades as they may catch moisture even when you are not near the ice.

Experts are of the opinion that skate blades should be manually dried just after skating. Make use of one or two very porous golf size terry cloth towels to clean down the metal plate, the boot, and the blades. It is important that you concentrate on the metal parts of the skate. One should never leave skates to be wiped later. When the moisture is removed from them, completely cover the blades with fabric blade covers.

Do not store skates in a travel bag at home. Make sure that they are removed from the bag instantly so that both the metal and the leather parts can air dry. It is also advised that you release the laces and pull the tongue of each boot slightly forward. You can also lay the skates on their sides on a dry towel so that they do not touch. Allow them to air dry in a place where they are exposed to light. But ensure that they are not placed away from any heat source and are under the direct sunlight. If they are placed below direct sunlight, they may possibly dry out and the leather will crack. Thus, taking care of your hockey equipment is as significant as training for the sport.

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Ice Hockey 101

If you dream of attaining glory on the hockey rink, it is time to give your PS3 a rest, get off the couch and get to business. Fitness, skills and strategy are vital to your gameplay. So get into shape and start honing your strengths.

Get the Basics Right

Eating healthy will go a long way in aiding your hockey career. Give up the fries and coke and start munching on greens. A good night’s sleep is also vital to any player’s health. Don’t lose out on your REM sleep and ditch the habit of watching movies or playing video games before sleeping. The action packed visuals keep your mind racing long after you’ve drifted off to sleep. Extracting yourself from Halo might be a monumental task but in hockey, you win some and you lose some.

The key to a good physique is the right training schedule. Follow the rest and recovery routine and instead of sprints, run shuttles or suicides. Mix it up; get ample rest between exercises so that your body can easily adapt to extreme situations.

Train to Win

Quickness is an important trait in hockey. The rink isn’t big enough for long movements so you need to be excellent at short, quick manoeuvres. Practice short sprints and diagonal movements to increase your quickness in the rink.

Strength is not about how beefed up you are, it is about how much you can endure. Develop your resistance, it will add to your stride and forcefulness during the game.

As a hockey player, you need to pay extra attention to your femur muscles. Performing overhead squats will loosen up your hip flexors and improve your bending posture. Inculcate static and dynamic stretching exercises in your training schedule as they will open up your muscles and give them a wider range of action.

A six pack might be pleasing to the eyes but having a set of washboard abs means low body fat. Thus your body has less fuel to burn and you risk running out of gas in the middle of a game. So don’t sacrifice your performance for an aesthetically appealing physique.

You must cool off after a heated training session. Riding a stationary bike helps regulate your blood flow and prevents cramping. Wrap up your training with simple stretching exercises.

Sharpen Your Skills

Reading the ice correctly and understanding the game is as important as playing it. Play the game as much as you can, with friends, family, coaches, teammates and even alone. This will help you tune in to the intricacies of hockey and speed up your reaction time.

Shooting is a skill that you simply must possess, how else will you win those games? Practice shots from different angles and positions; see what works best for you. The trick is to practice and practice so much that shooting comes naturally when you are being hounded by the opponents in the middle of a nerve-wracking game.

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Off-Ice Hockey Training Part 1 – Developing an Effective Off-Ice Dynamic Warm-Up

Hockey is the greatest sport on earth. Finally recognizing this, the number of youth hockey programs in the U.S. continues to grow rapidly. Characterized by rapid high-intensity movements, high velocities, and full-speed collisions, it’s not hard to see why off-ice training would be advantageous. With injuries such as “groin” pulls, hip flexor strains, sports hernias, and shoulder separations plaguing the sport, it’s not hard to see why off-ice training is a NECESSITY.

Whether or not to train for hockey is not a question. It’s a no brainer. Hockey players that train excel and dominate. Players that don’t fall behind and are at an increased risk of injury. Almost all coaches and players recognize that much. The question I receive the most is, “Where do I start?” That’s the right question to ask and the question I’d like to address. In this article series, I’m going to walk you step-by-step through the process of creating an effective off-ice training program.

Where to Start

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Without a doubt, the best place to start is by adding a dynamic warm-up before every training session (off-ice AND on-ice sessions) and game. Trash the old jog around the rink and stretch as a team routine. Despite popular belief, stretching before high intensity activity doesn’t decrease injury risk. In fact, research suggests that it actually INCREASES the risk of injury! Believe it or not, stretching before high-intensity activity also leads to decreases in speed, agility, balance, and muscular strength and power. The jog and stretch may warm-up the body a bit, but it does nothing to increase functional range of motion around the joints you use during training or playing hockey. It simply isn’t effective in preparing the body for what is to come. The solution: dynamic warm-ups.

Things to Consider

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A dynamic warm-up is a series of exercises designed to increase body temperature, blood flow, joint range of motion, and neural drive to the working muscles. Sound better than decreased performance and an increased risk of injury? When putting together a dynamic warm-up, you’ll want to consider these things:

1) Skating takes the knees and hips through a full range of motion in all directions (flexion and extension, abduction and adduction, internal and external rotation).

2) Stickhandling and shooting take the shoulders through a full range of motion

3) Hockey involves both linear, lateral, and diagonal movements

4) Hockey is a high-intensity, high-velocity sport

5) The hip musculature and scapular stabilizers (muscles around the shoulder) are important problem areas to address to decrease injury risk

6) Core training should be performed during the warm-up, ensuring that athletes put maximum effort into it and that the appropriate muscles are activated for the training to follow.

7) The dynamic warm-up should last around 10 minutes

Taking these 7 things into consideration, let’s take a look at a basic program I’ve used with high school and college players in the past.

Every one of these exercises should be performed for about 15 yards.

1) Walking Knee Hug with High-Knee Hold

2) Walking Lunge with Overhead Reach

3) Inchworm

4) Walking Inverted Reach

5) Diagonal Walking Lunge

6) Butt Kickers

7) High Knees

8) Side Shuffle RIght

9) Side Shuffle Left

10) Carioca Right (Quick feet emphasis)

11) Carioca Left (Quick feet emphasis)

12) Carioca Right (Long stride emphasis)

13) Carioca Left (Long stride emphasis)

14) Straight-Legged March

15) 50% Sprint from Push-Up Start

16) Back Pedal

17) 75% Sprint from Push-Up Start

18) Back Pedal

Let’s take a look at how this warm-up addresses all the things I mentioned earlier.

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1 & 2) The knees, hips, and shoulders are taken through a full range of motion throughout this warm-up (notably in the lunging, cariocas, and inchworm).

3) Forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonal movements are all incorporated.

4) The warm-up involves higher intensity movements and increases in speed.

5) The psoas, a hip flexor commonly problematic in hockey players, is isolated and activated during the walking knee hug with high knee hold as you’ll hold the knee against your chest, then let it go, holding it using your hip flexors as high as possible for a second before moving into the next step. The other muscles around the hip are activated through the side shuffling and cariocas. Lastly, the scapular stabilizers and other muscles around the shoulder are activated during the inchworm.

6) When performed correctly, inchworms should effectively warm-up the abdominal musculature, and the walking inverted reach should activate the glutes. While this is far from sufficient core work, it’s a good starting point.

7) Lastly, this program can easily be performed within 10 minutes.

Wrapping Up

There are an infinite number of dynamic warm-up exercises you can perform. While I prefer moving warm-ups, it’s entirely possible (and sometimes better in the beginning) to sufficiently warm-up an entire team using stationary (not progressing over a distance) movements. Performing a dynamic warm-up before practices and games will save you valuable ice time as you won’t have to spend as much time on the ice warming up. Follow the guidelines in this article to design your own warm-ups and/or use the sample warm-up I’ve provided before every training session, practice, and game and you’ll be making the first step towards improved performance

Stay tuned for part two of this series, where I’ll go into why most of the core training incorporated into off-ice training programs does nothing to improve performance, and show you the most effective functional core training for hockey players.

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Maintain Your Ice Hockey Equipment

When someone thinks about caring ice skates, the process is not at all time consuming. In fact this whole process requires a lot of concentration and attention. If someone gives a little proper care to their ice skates, they can last for a longer period of time. If you just by chance miss your maintenance program, then so called expensive pair of ice skates can actually get ruined within a period of seven to fourteen days itself.

When off the ice but still wearing skates, always and without fail wear plastic or rubber skate guards over ice skate blades. Skate guards protect the blades from hard surfaces and grit that can very quickly ruin a well-sharpened blade. Keep skate guards at the edge of the ice and place them on your skate blades even if you only plan to be off the ice for a few steps.

It is very important to note that when you are not wearing skates, it is advised that one should never leave the skate guard on the blades. One must understand that the guards are used only for walking purpose and left only for a small period of time. They have the capability that they trap moisture when the skates are near the ice.

Since they get consistently exposed to moisture when people use them for skating, it is very important they are maintained carefully and even proper maintenance is taken too. When the skate blade starts rusting, they further move into a territory where they can’t be repaired. Prevention is the only way through which you can save your skates.

Experts are of the opinion that these Skate blades are dried after they have been used. If they are dried manually, after skating, they can surely achieve the results. The best way of saving your skates is that you make use of very absorbent golf size cloth towels. These towels have the capability that they wipe down all the moisture from the metal plate, from the blades, and possibly even from the boot. It is very vital that the special particular attention is paid to the metal parts of the skate. One should never think that they can leave the skates for later wipedown, it is next to impossible to later clean.

When it becomes visible that there is no presence of moisture on the skates, then one can possibly cover the blades with the help of blade cover made out of fabric. It is advised that one should always avoid using plastic or even rubber guards for storage purpose. These materials are not at all successful in removing the moisture from the skates and in fact trap further moisture from atmosphere. This way, your skates will rust pre maturely. When you prefer to buy quality skate cover, they have an absorbent lining that absorbs almost all moisture and also takes away moisture from the blades as well. They will also provide cushions to the skates when you carry them in the skate bag.

When you are not using ice skates or when at home, make sure that they are not stored in travel bag. It is advised that they remain in the best state when they are removed from bag. It is also better that you loosen the laces and pull the tongue out so that the drying process takes place quickly. One can also lay the skates in a dry towel so that the drying takes place uninterrupted. It is best when they are air dried in a place where there is immense sun light. But, it is very important to know that they are as far as from the heat sources.

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Improve Ice Hockey Speed – Off-Ice Tips and Advice

The Road to Speed
It’s not an easy road by any means. Like anything else, if you want something, you will have to work for it; it will not just be simply handed to you. Many people have this misconception that there is a program out there that can make you into an all-star over night. Sorry to burst those bubbles, but there is no such thing.

The Ingredients
There are three main ingredients to improving your hockey speed:

  1. Strength – Power in your legs will give you a stronger stride and ultimately make you a faster skater.
  2. Technique – Without proper technique, you will never be able to use your strength to its full potential.
  3. Motivation – without motivation and dedication, you will never be able to improve either of the above categories.

Applying These Methods
It is important that you stay focused on the goal you have at hand. If it is speed you are looking for, make sure you take all the right steps to achieve that goal. You need to stay committed and honest with your off-ice programs if you are going to see any signs of success.

When doing an off-ice program, hockey players should focus on the aspect of plyometrics. Plyometrics are the exercise of choice for almost every hockey player because of the benefits it can bring to the individual. This form of exercise will emphasize explosive power and target the muscles that hockey players use when making a stride on the ice.

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Ice Hockey Training – How to Be the Best

How does a hockey player nowadays make the NHL (National Hockey League)? This is a very important question as hockey players are entering the NHL at such a young age in this 21st century. In other words, how does a hockey player rise above the rest? The answer is actually quite simple.

The better hockey player:

  • Learns faster
  • Trains smarter
  • Improves tremendously each year
  • Trains to improve as quick as he can
  • Is more competitive and wants to win more than anyone else
  • Loves the game and is willing to do what it takes to be great
  • Studies the best players in the world
  • Is exposed to proper training equipment
  • Is passionate about the game and continually wants to learn more

These are only some of the attributes of a great player. We can put these attributes into categories. One category could be the uncontrollable qualities. Being passionate, and loving the game are uncontrollable. Too bad that if you are not born with these feelings than you are not going to the NHL. However, if you are born with them, there are many things you can do to feed your “fire” and improve at a faster rate than the rest.

One thing you can do is work on the mental game. A great way to do this is to watch what the pros do. When I say watch, I mean study and analyze, rewind and watch in slow motion. Do what the pros do and have what the pros have.

Another way to improve faster than the rest is to use old and new training tools to tune up your skills. One of the best hockey training tools out there right now is the Tape-2-Tape. Tape-2-Tape allows you to work on your passing, stickhandling, and one-timers without needing a partner.

The Hockey Training Programs

From Visually.

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Ice Hockey Goalies Playing Out of Your Mind

When a professional athlete has an incredible performance, he is often referred to as playing “out of his mind.” There is a lot of truth to this statement. In his phenomenally successfully book, “The Inner Game of Tennis,” W. Timothy Gallwey suggests that we really have 2 “selfs”. Self 1 is the ego– the critical, judgmental and analytical self that never stops thinking, and is continually giving instructions to self 2. Self 2 is the self that takes the action– plays the sport.

For the purpose of discussion, I will refer to Self 1 as “The Ego”, and Self 2 as “The Player.” What we need to realize is that when an athlete is “in the zone” or “playing out of his mind” he has achieved a state where he completely transcends The Ego. The Player is 100% in the moment, focused on the situation at hand, with no concern about the past or the future. The Player just plays and The Ego is quiet.

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You have likely heard the statement, “we are our own worst enemy.” One way to look at this statement is to realize that The Ego only gets in the way of optimal performance. When The Ego begins to give instructions to The Player, it causes stress, nervousness and over-thinking. Muscles will tighten when they shouldn’t. There will be much second guessing and a delay in response time.

Can we learn to transcend The Ego and get ourselves into a state of relaxed concentration– a state that allows us to be at our best? It takes a lot of practice and the right attitude, but I believe we can. A shift in mind needs to take place, where The Ego has 100% confidence in The Player’s ability to execute and successfully take the required action. That is step 1. The way you get there begins with practice– continual repetition of the situations that one will face in a game. Practice is the time you should be thinking, identifying errors and making adjustments. Practice is where the majority of the learning needs to happen.

Step 2: After enough repetition and learning takes place, the goal is to get The Ego to completely trust The Player. The mind needs to become quiet– free of criticism, instructions, judgment and emotion. Let The Player take over and play. When you get to this point, you’ll be playing “in the zone.” Ideally, you want to get to a point where, instead of The Ego continually “beating up” The Player, The Ego looks up to The Player in awe, with humility.

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I just gave you a lot to digest. Here is a simple breakdown of what I am talking about:

1) Consider the idea that you have 2 “selfs,” The Ego and The Player. The Ego analyzes, judges, criticizes and constantly barks instructions to The Player. This only gets in the way of The Player achieving optimal performance.

2) You must practice your physical game so much that you finally get to the point where The Ego completely trusts The Player to “get the job done” without any instructions or thinking about how you will do it.

3) The time to think, judge and make adjustments is in practice. Allow yourself to do this as necessary, but you should get to a point where, even in practice, The Player takes over and The Ego just watches in awe.

4) At game time, no matter how far you have come with your physical game, quiet your mind and focus 100% on the play at hand. Take emotion out of the equation. When you make a mistake, don’t get upset. View it as a “learning event,” take a moment to picture how you could have played it better, then let it go. At the same time, when you do something great, don’t get emotional. View it with humility, take a breath, and get ready for the next play.

5) Remember, the less you “think” when playing, the better you will perform. Hockey is a game of reading and reacting. Allow yourself to read and react, read and react. Trust yourself to let go of “trying to figure it out.” Just play.

Humans have an incredible natural ability to learn how to do new things very quickly. Learning happens very fast when The Ego stays quiet. The best way to learn is by watching someone who is very proficient at doing that which you want to learn how to do, then picturing yourself doing the action a few times in your mind. You then should try doing the action over and over, continually making adjustments until you master the action.

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Most of us learn the slow way. We have a coach or instructor telling us the steps we should be take, we try following the instructions, and then the coach or instructor continually criticizes us and tells us what we are doing wrong; keep your stick on the ice, lower your stance, raise your glove, turn you body, push off with your back foot, keep your shoulders level etc. When we focus on one thing, say keeping your glove higher, we forget to keep our shoulders even. Frustration sets in and our critical Ego starts telling us we can’t do it correctly. We end up doing too much thinking, which in turn gets in the way of natural learning.

A better, more natural way to learn is by watching a professional or highly skilled goalie perform the action a few times. Then, you should try doing it yourself over and over until you begin to do it better and better. A great tool to help you learn this way is video. Have someone videotape you doing the action. Watch the video and get an idea of how you need to adjust your movements, then go out and practice it some more. Keep making adjustments until you master the action.

For those of you who want to learn more about these strategies, I highly recommend the book, “The Inner Game of Tennis” by W. Timothy Gallwey. Yes, I did say Tennis. I don’t play Tennis. Personally, I am not very interested in Tennis. It doesn’t matter. This book contains the hidden gems, the secrets if you will, of how to perform at your best- regardless of the sport or activity.

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Speed Training Drills For Ice Hockey Players – How to Become a Faster Skater and Dominate the Game

Speed training drills are one of the absolute most important things that hockey players can focus on. Speed, along with power and agility, is one of the cornerstones of what makes a great hockey player, yet so many players simply ignore speed specific training. In this article we’ll look at exactly what you can do to train yourself to be faster and more explosive on the ice.

On-Ice Speed Training

On ice training is a great place to train for speed using certain drills to help maximize speed and acceleration. When doing your on ice speed training remember, that form and technique are the two places to focus on. Small changes in your form can have huge impacts on your overall speed, which is why power skating is so important.

Likewise, technique is huge. Watch the top skaters in the NHL skills competition and you’ll notice their technique. They don’t take a lot of fast, choppy strides to try and get down the ice as quickly as possible. Instead, they take two or three very quick powerful strides, get up to top speed almost immediately, and then use long smooth strides to maintain that speed. The key to this is “first stride speed” or “first stride acceleration”.

Off-Ice Speed Training

On-ice speed training is important, but the fact of the matter is, if you want to be able to skate your fastest, you absolutely need to focus on your hockey fitness. The gym is where the fastest players are made, and if you want to skate faster and dominate the competition, you absolutely need to be heading to the gym and doing exercises designed specifically to make you a faster, better hockey player.

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Speed Training Drills For Ice Hockey Players – How to Get Faster and Stay Faster

Speed training drills are often times not incorporated into hockey practices. There will always be skating drills, but speed is often something simply attributed to nature. The thinking goes that any player who isn’t naturally fast, probably won’t ever be. This is completely wrong. Like anything in sport and fitness, speed can be improved through proper training and practice. Here are some tips to help in that improvement.

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Firstly, form is of great importance to speed, and a lot of players don’t skate at their maximum speed purely because of bad form. If form has been identified as a problem, it’s time to hit the power skating classes. No one is too old for power skating if their stride is in need of some tweaking. The simple corrections to minor imperfections in a player’s stride can have huge impacts.

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Secondly, watch how the pros do it. In the NHL skills competition, the fastest skater competition tends to feature some of the same faces each year. One thing you’ll notice if you watch them is they all have a similar strategy. They’ll start off with very short, powerful strides to get them up to speed as fast as possible, but once they’ve reached speed, they stop taking the short, bursting strides, and transfer into longer, smoother ones. This is something many players ignore, instead opting to keep their feet moving as fast as possible, as if they were running on the ice. This is a mistake. Start your strides short, get up to speed, and then maintain the speed by smoothing and lengthening your stride.

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