GTP TV: Ep 14 – Strategies for Off-Ice Training

Hey gang it’s Maria here from Goalie Training Pro TV. Welcome to episode 14 where we’re going to talk about a strategic approach to your off ice training. It’s like one of those tricky things because it kind of seems simple and even those of you who have used my programs, and you know you look at them, you’re like, “yeah, yeah, that all makes sense”. But there’s so many you know little paths that you can go down and little rabbit holes and you know ways that you can get lost when you’re just trying to figure it out on your own.

So I’m going to try to sort of enlighten you and help you understand the strategic approach to it. So it’s never just sort of a collection of exercises, like well we can do this and this kind of looks cool. You know it’s always… well we need to work on this characteristic, or this element and then once we have that established then we can add in this layer.

You know, it’s very simple once it’s all been put together but getting there it’s kind of like, “oh geez, how do I do that?”


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So, you know and I think the other thing is too, you’ll see in programs a lot of similarities to what the skaters do, so that’s a misconception a lot of people have, is that, oh well you know I shouldn’t be doing, a squat.

Well we don’t actually do back squats, we haven’t done back squats in here for probably, … eight years but you know you still need to build that strength and you know in a functional way.

So there will be some common things. Split squats, you’ll see, we’ll still do some single arm dumb bell press, some single arm cable press, push ups, chin ups, there will be common things. It’s not, it isn’t what, whatever you think it should be, it isn’t standing on a stability ball, juggling, you know squatting, trying to squat heavyweight on a balance board.

Those are, people who kind of, they think they know what they’re trying to train and their kind of thinking, well a goalie needs balance and they need to be strong and they need hand eye coordination, so we’ll just do it all at once.

It’s just people that don’t understand the science and the background to sort of weed out where the best path is.

Yeah. I had to go to university for six years to sort of get some idea of it and then I’ve been a strength coach for, … this might be my 23rd year, but you know and I’m just sort of still figuring it out.

So, don’t worry about that too, because it, it looks cool and it kind of makes sense on the surface, but not the right way.

You know there’s specific things we need, if you want wider butterfly flare and to get it safely.

Same thing with baseball pitchers, you see it all the time, people you know like, we do like internal, external rotation with a heavy baseball, or we have them throwing a heavy ball to build strength in their shoulder and power. Yeah, and that might even work for a bit but, it’s actually adding exponential wear and tear to a joint that’s already so vulnerable to injuries. So we really have to pay attention to that.

So, you know work on some things, working on quicker crease movement both from your skates and from a butterfly position. It’ll help you get deeper splits. Again safely and within the context of being a goalie, not a gymnast. And just help you stay crisp and quick right through you know to the end of the third period, because a lot of you run out of gas and I think you don’t realize that regular people cardio doesn’t build goalie stamina. So that’s a big problem, and the key is to kind of know which 20-30%.

It needs to be specific because that reminds me of that joke about, like a plumber and there’s a factory that’s flooding and they say well, you know a plumber comes out and he looks it all over and they’re like, well can you fix it and he says yeah I can fix it. They say well how much will it cost, well it’s going to cost, you know $3000 bucks. Okay, like great, like go ahead, you know fix it. So, the plumber, you know goes along to the spot and pulls out his pipe wrench and he hits a pipe and the water stops, and you know, they say well $3000 bucks just for hitting, you know the pipe with a wrench? And he says well you got to know where to hit it.

You know so, it’s kind of one of those things, that there’s lots of places you could hit it but it’s knowing the right spot.

So, think of it in layers. Think of it as in building layers of armour, and so you need to start from the inside out. You need to do the right order of operations.

Even if you think of a knight getting dressed in his armour, it’s not like, okay we’re going to put on the big outer shell of armour and then your underwear. You know, it’s like you’re going to get on your underwear and then probably the chain mail and then the thing, you know. So, it has to all be in order, because that’s how you make yourself successful but also durable as you go.

Then, a huge element and I almost don’t talk about it as much as I would like to, is just injury prevention. I weave it into all my programs, I try to kind of disguise it in there, like when you know your mom used to put spinach in with your potatoes or something so you would eat it. Because there are not many of you, like say 17, 18 year old goalies, like, oh, sure hope I don’t get hurt. You’re like I’ve never been hurt. You don’t think about it until it happens to you. Then you sure think about it and you wish you’d done stuff so, that’s really your number one priority.

The place we start is with a good thorough assessment. You know like can you move in all the planes that you’re supposed to be able to move? Can you move in your hips? Can you, you know get in a good, you know deep squat pattern with your chest up and your knees out and your feet flat on the floor?

Like that’s a pretty essential pattern if you’re going to be a goalie, and if you don’t have that pattern, you know then the question is, okay, well, is this a restriction in mobility? Is that restriction in mobility because of a joint restriction? A capsular restriction? Just some tight muscles?

You guys always assume you know I just need to stretch, you know I just need to stretch a little bit more, but you know sometimes stretching is the wrong thing for you to do.

Is it a stability issue? So, do you have that mobility like, you know maybe if we had a stool set down low on the ground, you could get your bum on the stool and get in the position, but you can’t actively do it. Well then it’s maybe a stability issue or even a strength issue.

So we need to figure out all that and we do all that via an assessment and there’s some specific things we have to look at for a goalie. Because also if your hip internal, external rotation is off, (and we’re all biased one way towards a little more internal rotation or a little more external rotation) well, if we’re a goalie, you get about, most people get about 90 degrees total movement, but again, if I’m a goalie and I’m biased towards external rotation. So maybe you know, that’s those of you that have a really narrow butterfly.

Well you need to know that, and then we go on and monitor. Okay well can we improve that to some extent with our stretching and our mobility work, but also what are the limitations and we won’t just keep smashing on you if your body’s designed, you know that this is how much internal rotation it has.

Again if it’s muscular or capsular we can get some improvement but if that’s just the bony structure of it, and we’re trying to smash on it constantly it’s just, it’s going to accelerate our wear and tear again.

So we want to know where those limitations are, and try to see what’s causing them.

Then we start with a mobility and a stability. So mobility is kind of a combination of flexibility and stability, so I kind of put them together as that mobility umbrella. A lot of these things should improve, we should be able to improve the quality of your deep squat. The quality of your thoracic spine rotation, of your hip mobility, of your hip stabilization, your general core stabilization.

If things aren’t improving, even though we’re sort of doing the right things then it’s time to send you to get an assessment by an allied health professional. Might be a sport physiotherapist, maybe you have a sport chiropractor who’s really good at doing assessment and doesn’t just kind of crack you and send you on your way.

So, figure out, okay, well what, you know yeah maybe it is a capsular restriction and you need a massage therapist or a manual therapist to help you work that out, so that then we can keep building.

It’s not like a, oh well I’m not injured, I don’t need to see someone, it’s like, okay this isn’t quite working the way we’d like it to.

You know it’s like the car, when you, and I was the worst for doing this when I was a teenager, but you know you’d sort of hit a curb, and then the steering wheel would be a little bit like, but you’d be like, oh it’s fine. Then my dad would get in the car and he’d be like oh my gosh, you know the steering’s out and take it in right away to get it fixed, because he’s the guy that had to pay the bill when the tire’s wore out or the brakes wore out or whatever else bad things that I did to that poor, it’s called the Mountain Family Truckster. It was a Ford Country Square station wagon. The big like 1980’s station wagons with the wood paneling. It was sick. I’d blown all four speakers except for the rear right speaker in the thing. Bad.

Okay, so, then once we get you good mobility and stability and it’s not to say like, oh we don’t, oh and you don’t pick up a dumb bell until your mobility and stability’s perfect. You know, these things blend, but our focus and our emphasis is on the mobility and the stability to start with.

Then we want to go to strength but again, we build it in layers. So we don’t just start smashing out weights in the gym. This, like when I worked at the Sports Medicine Clinic as the exercise specialist, up at the Fowler Kennedy, they did a booming business.

And people that did this, who like starting going to the gym, and then it’s like, man I was getting stronger, os I just kept lifting heavier and heavier weights and then about, usually between six and ten week mark, they’d be in the clinic with like shoulder tendinosis, or you know knee pain or something funny going on. They’re like oh, and like things are going so great in the gym and I was getting stronger and feeling really good, I don’t know why this happened.

Well it’s because they didn’t give their body time to adapt. So, our muscles get stronger faster than our connective tissue. So, we need to give it time to adapt and sort of prepare for the big strength training that’s coming.

We also want our stabilizers to build up some stamina. So we want to do long durations, sort of sustained contractions. We do that in the first phase, what I call the movement phase, where we use some rather slow eccentrics. So, you know if we’re doing, let’s say we’re doing a split squat, just for example, we’re going to go down for one, two, three, we might even pause and then come up.

So that we’re working that muscle under lengthening tension, we’re getting our connective tissue under tension for a sustained period. You know that’s about a five second per rep exercise and and we’ll do pretty high volume, 10 or 12 on each side. So that’s about a minute on each side of sustained contraction, or fairly sustained contraction.

Again, looking that we’re keeping our good movement patterns and challenging some different movement patterns. Actually one of my favourites for goalies it’s in almost all of your first phase training programs, is just a sumo goblet squat. So if we’re in our double hip width stance, holding a dumbbell or kettle bell. Again, no super heavy but it’s getting those knees wide, coming down to a count of even four or five, two, three, four, five maybe a hold and then coming back up.

So working those muscles that support and protect you hips, while also getting your quads and your glutes and everything really fired up.

Then we go on to what I call the functional phase, which is giving us a chance to stabilize and produce force. So this would be something like, an inline kneeling chop. So lets just say, … we just grab a super band, we would use a cable or a bungee, but if we go, let’s go our inside foot forward. So if I get inline so that my knee is inline with my heel and then I do a chop across and down with the arms. So I’m exerting force with my upper body, I’m using my torso to stabilize and because I’m in that narrow kneeling position, I also have to use my hips to stabilize.

So, exerting force but challenging my body to stabilize that force as we go, and the reps get a little bit smaller in there.

Then we go on to a max strength phase, but we can still challenge our stability. Like we might do, you know we would still do like a deadlift or a squat, like a front squat or something like that, but we’d also one day do like a single leg deadlift so that we had to have that stabilization element in there as well. We use a lot of single leg squats.

Max strength development is really one of your keystones for speed development. So, when we get athletes that come into Revolution and they need to be faster, they want to work on their speed, I always make sure that they understand that, we’re going to do, you know and again, following the progressions. You can’t just be like, oh speed, max strength builds speed, okay so I’m going to just start at max strength. No. It doesn’t work that way.

So, we have to build up, but building strength, especially for a high school athlete, is going to be our easiest way to make them faster. So that’s going to be a huge part of it.

We also don’t load up, kind of goalie specific patterns. So it’s another mistake that you see with some like YouTuber’s. It looks really cool and again, when you look at it you’re like, yeah that looks like exactly what I need, you know that guy’s got head, like weighing a heavy weight vest or got a barbell and he’s doing hops side to side or you know pushes side to side. That’s what I need to do.

We don’t do speed exercises when we’re training strength. We just build strength. We want to keep stability in there, but we’re not getting sort of fussy with our function, or we’re not doing you know alternate knee recoveries holding heavy dumbbells, that just, … it’s just silly.

But yeah, it just, it’s putting heavy load on stabilizers, we’re moving slow so we’re in a pattern where we want to be fast. We’re actually moving slower and then we’re actually not able to use enough weight to build our big powerful muscles.

So, just yeah, it’s pretty basic, big strength movements. Then we pepper in with your goalie specific stability and functional movement patterns and things like that, but if the goal is strength we just do sort of big ones. And yeah, we don’t squat on a ball or anything like that.

Then, the next phase is power. So, how fast can we apply that force and then teaching athletes how to apply the force very quick. Again, you guys, probably if you watched three years ago, I talked a lot about, you know big powerful pushes. Give a big full push. Well, you know then when I spent more time with goalie coaches, like well a big powerful pushes need big powerful holes that are open for longer, take longer to close and there’s more space for the puck to go in.

So, you know when we are working, trying to work that specific kind of power, you know it’s more those quick pushes. We still want them to be powerful, we still want to get good displacement, but we want it to be, you know we talked about this idea of the one inch punch. That, you know Bruce Lee talked about, that you’re so powerful you can knock someone over with a one inch punch.

So teaching them to use that kind of, you know use their power the way they need it on the ice, so the way you need it on the ice. So that’s just the strength portion which is really what I wanted to focus on today, but then there’s the speed and the stamina portion.

Again, normal people, speed training and stamina training, doesn’t really make us goalie fast, or give us goalie stamina.

It’s not that you can’t ever do sprints, you definitely can, but there also, have to work in your goalie specific pattern. So one of your big speed elements and stamina elements is, vertical agility. Up and down, how quickly you can get up and down and it hardly ever gets trained. Now a big point with this is, I don’t want you smashing into your butterfly, you know and over and over to work on your goalie specific agility.

Again, that’s just adding wear and tear and it’s exponentially magnifying the wear and tear on your joints. You get enough of that on the ice, but there are ways that we can train it that are safer and still help your muscles get that speed that you need.

Yeah, and when we do those patterns, like so say we’re doing a stamina drill. Well we’d like you to have change of direction, maybe change in vertical displacement, you still need to keep a stabile torso.

You know when I see kids doing agility drills lets say, not kids but you know high school athletes, or athletes and their doing their agility pattern and their arms are all over the place, or you know their not low in their legs. It’s like their torso isn’t square, it’s like well when is you body going to learn that. You know you’re telling your body, hey we’re working on your speed, we’re working on your agility, we’re working on some precision using the ladder. So we should be moving with precision.

I don’t mind people scoff at it, you know they say, oh people just go like glove and block or you know, oh then it’s goalie specific, but you know what, I do have to have my hands in a certain position. So why not practice keeping them there and then also be aware, hey where are my glove and blocker? You know if I’m moving, if I’m moving to my right in the agility ladder, you know and my glove and blocker are way over here, you know that sort of not helping to reinforce what my goalie coach is telling me to do on the ice.

So, I think from that perspective, you know things like that, there’s a place where you can take something from the ice and use it when you’re doing your training, or you know just where should your eyes be looking? If you’re leading, you know leading with your head and following with your chest and shoulders. So, adding in elements with that.

Yeah. That’s all I got for you.

I guess I’ll do a, yeah, I’ll do a plug because I’m opening up the Turning Pro Coaching Program for enrolment for the first time in a year. This year there is a huge bonus, that I won’t tell you about, but other than to say it’s actually wicked awesome. So you might want to check it out.

This is Maria from Goalie Training Pro TV finishing up episode 14 on Strategic Off Ice Training.