GTP TV: Ep 16 – How Hockey Goalies Over 40 Should Train

Hey gang it’s Maria here from Welcome to Goalie Training Pro TV Episode 15 maybe… 16? 400? I’ve lost count. But this episode is all about how 50 plus year old goalies should train. Really 40 plus but let’s say 50 plus. It’s about how you should train because it’s different as well. And somebody asked so it was a great idea. They were like, “Hey, how about goalies over 50?” I said, “What a great idea,” so that’s what this episode’s going to be all about.

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Let’s just hit on the key points. Number one, you do too much volume. You think almost, “Oh, you know what I’m older now so I need to work harder because it’s going to take longer for my body to adapt. I need to do more than I used to do.”

That’s a HUGE mistake. The will have big time diminishing returns and have you spending more time on the sideline on the bench, in the physio’s office, in the doctor’s office, then throwing your arms up in the air, getting clobbered by your teammates because you just got another shot out.

The next big mistake is not enough emphasis on strength. Again you think, “I’m getting older. I don’t want to hurt myself. I’d better lighten up my weight.” And even some goalies just think this anyway. That, “Oh, you know I’m a goalie so I should do high repetitions with a lighter weight so I won’t get bulky.”

Being bulky isn’t really a big concern for too many of us. Some of us do (some of us, not me) bulk up a little bit easier and so we need to modify things there but for most people, people spend millions, like billions of dollars every year on supplements to try to help them gain muscle mass. Really, the ongoing problem isn’t like, “Geez, I’m just getting too jacked to be a goalie.”

Don’t be shy to increase the weight a little bit and do some heavier lifting because that’s what taps into what’s called high threshold motor units. And those are a fast twitch fiber, which is your explosive powerful muscle.

If you’re lifting 12 reps, 15 reps, that taps into a slow twitch fiber. Now it has its place and just like the younger athletes, your training should follow a periodized training scheme where you have different phases and you know the goal of the phase and the specific adaptations you’re after. But for that higher range, we’re more looking at tissue, adaptation, connective tissue strengthen but then for our performance outcomes we really do want to get heavier loads. Not one rep maxes but four, six reps for some of your exercises.

The next thing is you don’t spend enough time on speed. I’m going to circle back to some of these and fill in a few more details but again as one my mentors, a fellow named Peter Twist, a lot of you have probably heard of him. He was a very successful strength coach for the Vancouver Canucks for many many years but one of his sayings that’s stuck with me all of these years is that as we age everything becomes aerobic. We start, even some of us start, “Oh, I think I’ll run a marathon.”

We sort of become plodders rather than a cheetah or something. We want to try to keep that speed element but again in the right way because bad things can happen to us as we age.

The mistake that goes with that, number one mistake is we don’t have enough speed. We don’t train enough speed. The second mistake is that we don’t prep for speed and we’re just like, “Yeah, I’m going to go sprinting today.”

That’s where we have problems.

I think sort of the fourth key mistake that I’m going to share with you is that you want to dive right in. You get motivated, you get excited and it’s like, because I know because I talk to you and I’ve just finished doing interviews for the turning pro coaching group and I do have a few adult goalies in that group so one of the hardest parts of working with that population (because you’re a grown up and you’re used to doing what you want to do) is trying to get them to understand this is a marathon, not a sprint.

We’re not going to dive right in and even though you tell me, “No, no, that’s how I have to do it. It’s the way I am. I know myself. I have to just go all in.” It’s like, you can go all in but it’s going to be an on-ramp, not just onto the freeway.

Those are the big four. Why are those things important? Well, number one is we’re not 16 years old anymore. I’m 48 now. I notice it. I’ve had to change the way I train. When I train elite athletes and pro hockey players I notice around the time they’re around 28 years old plus or minus we need to really change our approach.

A young high school, even college athlete, that’s one of the hard things because you can almost do anything to them and they’ll get some better and they’re pretty durable. That’s why there are a lot of really insane training programs that get touted as being so successful because this college age guy can do it and this junior guy can do it.

But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it and doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.

You know with us, yeah, injury is probably one of the biggest things. We will rupture our achilles. If you are one of those athletes who kind of always feels really stiff in your achilles. Achilles is like your heel cord. You feel stiff in there. When you first get out of bed it’s kind of cranky until it gets going. You have to walk like a little bit of a peg leg. Or when you start running you kind of feel it and then it warms up and it goes away.

Red alarm lights should be going off in your head right now if that’s you. And it’s me too!

I actually did genetic testing for my nutrition a couple of years ago that was really really interesting. I found out that I’m a little bit intolerant to starch. I noticed I felt better when I didn’t eat gluten containing foods but I knew I wasn’t gluten intolerant because I could eat it. I wouldn’t get sick or anything like that but we did this testing and that’s what we found.

Other things… sensitivity to caffeine and it was really really helpful. Another thing it showed was kind of your propensity to power sports. Luckily it showed that I was highly, highly adapted to more endurance based exercises, which I knew because I was a varsity skier and then rowing was my second competitive sport. So we kind of knew that and I picked okay but it also talked a little bit about tissue quality and susceptibility to ruptures and so that came back to be like, you’re one of those people.

Don’t ignore that.

And people will be like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s been like that for years.” Yeah, exactly. It’s been like that for years. What’s happening is you have a low grade tendinosis or a low grade irritation. And then that tissue, when I’m stiff like that and I get going well maybe I do some little micro tears in the tissue. And then that tissue has to remodel.

Well, it’s like the three little pigs. It’s like the first house is built, whatever straw, huff and puff and blow your house down. I’m taking a little liberties with the story but let’s say I rebuild my house. Well, now I’m going to make it out of wood. And then the big bad wolf comes, huff and puff, blow my house down. This time I’m like, “You know what, I’m building this sucker out of bricks. Good luck to you Mr. Big Bag Wolf because you’re not blowing it down.”

That’s kind of what our body does. It’s like, “Okay, we’ll remodel this tissue. Oh, okay, we’ll remodel it a little stronger. Okay, we’re going to remodel it really strong.” Then where we had a lot of elastic properties, which are kind of the springy bits right and then some plastic properties, which are more kind of the stronger bits, the percentage, the ratio starts to shift. Now we get a tendon, and it needs to be kind of springy, that needs to be springy but it’s now getting stiffer.

Then what we do is we go and decide, “Oh, we’re going to play some basketball,” or, “Oh, I’m going to start this sprinting program that I downloaded from the internet and I haven’t sprinted since high school,” or, “I’m going to do this cool agility drill that I saw Maria do on YouTube,” and *toing*.

And you will know you ruptured your achilles tendon because you’re going to be all by yourself with nobody around you wondering, “Who just kicked me in the back of the leg? Somebody kicked me. It’s must have been a squirrel. I don’t what it was.” I’ve seen it a million times.

When I worked at the physio clinic at the Fowler Kennedy we used to do medical coverage for Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball, Play It Again Road Hockey, these things and you would see it time and time again. And you’d sometimes see them peg legging along.

“Hey, what happened?” “Oh, you know what, somebody slashed me in the back of the leg.” “Oh, really? Did you see who slashed you in the back of the leg?” “No.” Ah hah! Don’t do that. Rupturing your achilles is not nice.

The other big one is the hamstrings. Your body doesn’t know like, “Oh my owner might just decide to start sprinting and I’d better adjust my hamstrings so that they’re ready for that type of action.” It’s like, all it knows is what you do. Your hamstrings are pretty much equipped to let you sit on your ass at work all day (excuse my language), walking to the rink, play some hockey, that’s what they’re equipped for. So hamstrings are another big one.

I’ve seen patellar tendons go, which is a bad bad one. That’s a trip to the operating room 100%. These bad things happen and without warning other than the achilles. It’ll be kind of like, “Yeah, I guess it always gets a little sore sometimes.” And they’re not nice at all. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said this in the last week, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You have to go into that with that mindset. You have to be thinking at least a year. You know what, I’m going to build up over at least a year.

Does that mean like, “So, I’m not going to see any results until a year?” No, you’re going to see tons of amazing results. Even in the first four weeks. But we’re not going to get to that advanced explosive type of training until probably three, four months into it we’ll start introducing it and then we’ll work through different cycles.

Number two, you’re not in high school anymore. When you were in high school, you had hair and a Camaro and wore surf shorts every day. Yeah, you’re not in high school anymore so don’t be doing, “Oh, this is what I used to do in high school and I was the strongest guy in the whole universal gym set that we had upstairs in the gym room.”

You’re also not in the NHL. The guys that are in the NHL can train the way they do because they’re such great athletes that they have the attributes to be able to play in the NHL and to be able to do that kind of training. Obviously the training helps them perform but it’s not like, “Well, if I do the training that Connor McDavid does then I’ll be able to play as good as Connor McDavid does.” Doesn’t work that way.

Your key focus points are mobility and stability. And I’ve posted tons and tons of drills for you. If you just go to Goalie Training Pro TV on YouTube and search goalie mobility, goalie stretches, goalie stability, you’ll find tons and tons of stuff. That’s where you need to start.

Then the next thing is your functional strength. If you currently go to a fitness club and you do anything on machines. Now unless there’s an injury and you’ve been specifically told, “Hey, you’ve got to use the leg pressers.” You shouldn’t be leg pressing, you shouldn’t be doing knee extensions, you shouldn’t be doing hamstring curls, lying on the bench or standing or sitting. You shouldn’t be doing that embarrassing groin machine you sit on. You shouldn’t be doing, well if you want to do the bicep curls I don’t care because it’s not really functional anyway but you shouldn’t’ be sitting down to do chest press. None of that stuff.

You should be doing good body weight training like good pushups, body rows, single leg squats with perfect form. It has to be perfect because your body doesn’t bounce back as well as it could. In high school you do crappy form and not have your knees feel like they’re going to explode. Not so much now when we’re in our 40s and our 50s.

So you’ll use dumbbells. You can use a barbell but just be careful because again it’s spinal compression and as you know I had trouble with my back last spring. Like a bit of a bulging disc, some facet joint arthritis, a little bit of an end plate fracture. Kind of wear and tear from choosing the wrong sports and maybe choosing the wrong profession for back health.

But I talked to one of my other mentors, Dr. Peter Fowler who is a world renowned orthopedic surgeon, he’s retired now but we were looking at my MRI results because the doctor I saw suggested that I have some injections into my back. Into my facet joints, which did not turn my crank all that much so I asked the Chief as I call him.

He looked at it and he said, “No, you know if you got that end plate fracture and that disc bulging so that disc space is squishing down and then the facets are going to rest on each other. There’s not going to be so much space and that’s why you’re getting that arthritis so having an injection is going to maybe make it feel better but it’s not going to fix it.”

And really I’ve been working really diligently with my physiotherapist Brian Gastaldi who is one of the best in Canada and with my just very basic core stabilization. And not hard core stabilization. Like planking from knees, side planking from my knees, not to the point of exhaustion, just to the onset of fatigue.

I’m reading Stuart McGill’s book The Gift of Injury. It’s been really helpful.

But we’ve got it under control. I’m going to think twice before adding compression to my things because my spine’s already had 48 years of compression. So we’ll go nicey nice on it. Not to say I won’t do it but go nicey nice.

Then, and I’ve done this probably since I turned 44 or 45. I just have a standing physiotherapy appointment. Usually it’s once a month and in the summer in the off season when I’m coaching a lot more like every two weeks just to stay on top of things.

Especially as a goalie. And even since I’ve been playing goalie my pelvis gets out of alignment way more often so I go in, I see Brian, he looks after me and keeps things, little things from becoming big things.

And then the final thing that I want to mention is let’s focus on power first and then worry about speed. Power would just be building some strength. It might be like squat jump and stick, learning the technique for landing a jump, might some easy agility patterns. Even like a little mini hurdle hop and absorb.

Then we’ll start doing some speed, some sprinting, some change of direction. You need that foundation and you always need to weight in very, very cautiously.

And it’s hard because we forget. I do the same thing when I’m coaching. There’s an agility drill I’m coaching. I’m not warmed up at all and I’ll just show it and think, “One of these days, Maria. You’re going to be a crumpled mass with no achilles left.”

Sorry, you know what, I lied. One more thing, one more thing. Warm up. Your dynamic warm up is going to be so important. Even before you go on the ice in terms of your performance. Get in that dynamic warm up.

Again, I’ve got a bunch of them over on Goalie Training Pro TV on YouTube. And if you want a little free program just to get an idea I did put one together. It’s called Beer League MVP. It’s totally free. It just has things laid out for you if you want to check that out.

Otherwise, this is Maria from Goalie Training Pro TV. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood people. I’ll catch you next time.