How Beer Leaguers Should Train Differently

As promised, here is a follow up article to the post the other day on off-ice training for young hockey players – I give you some of the difference between how beer league players should train compared to the young guns.

So here we go…

The Difference Between How A BABL and Future Pro should train

Nothing to do with hockey, just proving that I am keeping fit during our time in France - nice run to the Louvre to start the day :)

Nothing to do with hockey, just proving that I am keeping fit during our time in France – nice run to the Louvre to start the day 🙂

Those of you who have been around for a while know that I have a term that describes the two groups of hockey players who get their training strategies here.

BABL – Bad Ass Beer Leaguers – you are the guys and gals who still love the game with every ounce of passion that a Martin St Louis has. You know you are not destine for the pros – but you still want to dominate your league.

FP – Future Pros – you are the guys and gals who dream of playing pro or for your National team one day. Many of you know that the odds of that happening are slim, but you are prepared to start the climb and see just how high you can get.

Because I mention that I am trying to help 10 players get to the NHL in the next 10 years, some BABL players think I am really only interested in helping those FPs – – NOTHING could be further from the truth!

I actually love helping you just as much as anyone else – your drive and commitment impresses me because I know the pressures you face on a daily basis as workers, spouses, parents, athletes, whatever – – I love your passion, so thanks for letting me be a part of your team.

When I started out as a strength coach, I was keen to push the athletes I trained – no matter how old they were.

I made all the mistakes

I made all the mistakes that I chastise other trainers for now – – I chastise them because they failed to learn and become better coaches, so they can get better results for their athletes.

I want to get this message through first and foremost – I AM NOT SAYING BABL PLAYERS SHOULD NOT TRAIN HARD.

So please do not email me irate because you love to work hard and you work harder than half the kids in your gym in fact your warm up is harder than most of the kids workouts.

I get it and I love you for it.

What I am saying is this… it is okay to listen to your body and just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

It is okay to listen to your body

If your knees are shot, it is okay to ride the bike rather than do the hill sprints, which leave your knees aching through the night so neither your knees nor you can get any sleep at all and then when you get on the ice the next day you feel like the tin-man from the Wizard of Oz.

If the bike is more forgiving for you, spares your knees the impact and still let’s you perform on the ice, then go with that or think about a slideboard or using an Elliptical.

Listen to your body and adjust.

You need to find a way to work smarter as you get older. Again, that is not the same as working easier.

You need to get over the idea of out-squatting the kids in the gym – the young hockey players who know what they are doing aren’t really worrying about how much they can back squat anymore anyway – modern hockey training is moving away from that.

Sprints are your fountain of youth on the ice

As you get older you tend to get more aerobic, because you think it is easier on your body. You tear your hamstring every time you do sprints, but going for a four mile jog feels okay, so you do that.

…And you get slower and slower and slower.

You still need that intensity, but you need to find a way to get it that is less stressful on your hammies.

It is okay if you use the bike (you know I don’t love it, but if it is the way you can get that high intensity, then go for it).

Just because you can; doesn’t mean you should

If you love lifting heavy and you can still Deadlift 375lbs for reps…but you have had a few episodes of acute back pain, okay maybe a few herniations, okay sometimes you get pain radiating down your leg…maybe it is time to retire the Deadlift.

Or at least, the barbell Deadlift.

Maybe you could try a single leg DB Deadlift or a single leg DB Stiff Legged Deadlift – something that will force you to use a little less weight.

The exact same ‘just because you can’ rule applies to you Future Pro’s as well. You can do almost anything to a young, talented athlete and they will get better. You may be trashing the crap out of their back, knees or hips – but that won’t appear until a 15 years down the road, so you may think it is okay.

It’s not.

The rules are the same – if you cannot use good form through the full range of motion either, modify the exercise or shorten up the range of motion – do not try to force it to where you think it should be.

And remember, hockey players are not powerlifters – you do not get points for how much you can lift, you get points for how you perform on the ice, so train for that. Training with heavier and heavier loads is not going to provide the same benefit on the ice as training with loads that require some stabilization.

Before you all start squatting on stability balls again, I don’t mean that kind of stability.

I mean instead of doing barbell back squats with 300lbs on the bar, why not do single leg DB squats with a 30lb weight vest and a couple of 40lbs dumbbells in your hands. You still get great strength stimulus plus the stabilization – THAT is tough.

The Pros Have To Follow The Same Rules…

Don’t think I am babying you because you are a BABL, I have found the exact same thing in the pro athletes I train as they get older.

We need to cut their volume – they don’t recover quite as well, so we need to keep their high intensity high, but keep it short and make sure there is time for recovery.

Where a young gun might train for 2 hours, we will limit the older guys to 1-1.5 hours. They need to put more into their post workout recovery too – mobility work, self myofascial release, nutrition.

The FPs should be doing that too, it would be a great benefit for them, but their age let’s them get away with it for a while.

So here is the bottom line for the BABL players…

  • Make sure you get your high intensity (but don’t take up sprinting tomorrow)
  • When you do high intensity energy system work, keep the volume low – 20-30 minutes
  • Give yourself adequate rest between high intensity energy system sessions 2-3 per week
  • Work on your mobility – 5 days per week minimum
  • Clean up your nutrition – get 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs after your workout
  • Listen to your body – if you cannot get into a low squat without trying to force yourself into that position – go with the range you have and work on your mobility – without a weight in your hands.
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Train for hockey, not your pride in the gym.
  • If you love lifting heavy because it is part of who you are, then you can keep doing I; I am just try to find a safer way than BB Deadlifts and Back Squats – I am just trying to reduce your risk of injury so you can keep playing hockey

Okay – now go forth and conquer 🙂


PS – the goalie training program I designed specifically for BABLs is the Rapid Response Goalie Training program.  For hockey players who also enjoy other sports and are looking for an overall fitness program geared toward hockey, you will like the Goalie Workout Club or Hockey Workout Club – both priced to suit any budget.