Hockey Training Q&A: The One About Creatine

Dug down into the mail bag today to answer questions about goalies getting burned at training camp and whether hockey players should be using the supplement creatine – after all, you can get creatine from red meat and some fish, so can’t you just get it there? I’ll tell you.

Q1:  “While watching these camps it seems that they are pretty consistent in their approach, at least for the goalies. They first run through a number of cardio sucking drills to tire them out and THEN start firing pucks. I can only presume that they want to separate those kids who’s cardio is not up to snuff, or perhaps try and emulate game conditions for long seasons and see who can play when they are tired. Anyway, it seems that this goes against many of your teaching principals where you’re focus is not really on cardio, but doing movements correctly only until you tire, then no more. Not sure how to approach training and preparing for these camps next April.”

…You can read my responses or watch the video and check out my sweet Snoopy shirt that I wear when I am in GSD (get $h1t done) mode on the weekend…

If you cannot see the video above, just click the link below

A: This question highlights the difference between Stamina training and Speed training.  When we are training goalies or skaters for Speed – the quality and the explosiveness must be there.  When those start to falter, it is time to end the drill, decrease the work interval or increase the rest interval.

When we are training Stamina – this is when a player needs to venture into survival mode and perform despite the fatigue.  We do this with our medium duration high intensity intervals rather than long slow steady state training.

This still allows some recovery so the goalie can perform a greater percentage of their stamina session at a high intensity with game-like speed – but it will still be very nasty to tolerate.

Q2: “I was just wondering if you know anything about creatine, I’m taking a bio steel advanced recovery formula, and the where I work out one of the trainers said that one scoop of creatine (5g) with your post work out shake might be a good idea.
I was just wondering what your thoughts are.”

A: Creatine is probably the most studied and most widely used supplement around (other than regular protein powder).  It is a safe supplement, but it is not a magic pill either.  It helps athletes with short duration, repeated bouts of exercise through the re-synthesis of ATP at the sarcomere level.

It is taken in 5g per day doses – there is no need for a loading phase and taking more will not help you get more benefit.

You can get creatine from eating red meat or fish like tuna, herring and salmon if you prefer to get it that way.  But be warned, you will need 2-3lbs of meat to get your 5g and cooking will breakdown some of the creatine.

There have been anecdotal reports of muscle strains and /or cramping when using creatine.  I cannot remember the exact number, but for every gram of creatine to enter the muscle cell, something like 5g of water accompanies it.

This is what accounts for the rapid gain of 2-3lbs players often see in the first week of creatine supplementation – that is not muscle boys

With this increased cell volume, you can appreciate how the muscle cell may be a little stiffer and the body may become a little dehydrated.  So make sure you are drinking extra water if you decide to use it.


It is safe.

It does have some very small training benefits – like maybe it helps you do one extra rep on a set – which over time will be significant IF (and this is a big IF) you are doing everything else you need to be doing.

So if you are not:

  • Eating a properly balanced diet consuming mostly unprocessed foods;
  • Doing your goalie mobility work five times per week;
  • Completing your goalie specific strength training 4 days per week in the off-season and twice per week during the season;
  • Completing two off-ice speed sessions and two off-ice stamina sessions during the off-season and 1-2 speed sessions during the season;
  • Doing your proper dynamic warm-up before every on-ice session;
  • Getting sufficient sleep of 7-8 hours per night;
  • And staying hydrated throughout the day

I would focus on those big bang activities first and then worry about creatine – it is a little thing that will give you a little return.  If you are doing all of the big things, then a little return is fine, but without the big things in place, taking creatine is a waste of money.

That’s it, that’s all – CHEERS!