Should your hockey training focus on core strength or core stability?

Do you think your core training for hockey should focus more on core stability or core strength?  Do you know the difference between core stability and core strength?  Let’s start by defining what the core is and then look at the difference between stability and strength.

Some strength and conditioning coaches cringe at the term ‘core training’.  I used to be one of them, but I have mellowed in my old age.  When we discuss the ‘core’  in terms of hockey training, we are talking about the torso really.  I look at the area from the armpits to the mid-thigh.  I think somewhere along the road the term ‘core’ was hijacked and used to describe abdominal training.  Doing ab crunches is not training your torso the way you need to use it as a hockey player.  Core training is not about building six pack abs – that is more of a nutrition issue than anything.  Having six pack abs has nothing to do with having a strong, stable torso. 

Core Stability is the ability to maintain a stationary position with the torso.  Core strength is the ability to generate movement through the torso.  My hockey training programs always start by focusing on core stability because that is the way you will use your torso when you are on the ice.  Hockey is about generating power from the legs and hips then transferring it through your torso and finishing with expression of that power through your upper body.  Think about a slapshot – you do not generate the force from your torso, you generate it from the legs and hips.  The core muscles engage to create a stable platform through which the force is transmitted to your stick.  When you body check,you create a rigid torso to transfer the force from your legs through to your upper body.

So to begin with core stability, remember you are trying to stabilize without movement of your trunk.  Think about some common exercises like the core plank, can you maintain a perfect core plank and alternate lifting one foot and then the other without any shift through your hips or torso?  And by no movement, I mean NO movement AT ALL.  Any hockey player who calls themself an athlete should have a prefect core plank, but you do not have core stability until you can do a plank with leg lift while maintaining that stability.  Same thing goes for the glute bridge.  You should be able to do a glute bridge and then lift one leg without any shift or dip in your hips.  NONE.

Core training for hockey - plank with leg lift

Core Plank with Leg Lift

Core exercise for hockey - glute bridge

Glute Bridge with Leg Lift

Remember better training = better hockey.

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