Workshop #3 – Off-Ice Goalie Training: Eccentric Power Principle

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We are going to talk about the eccentric power principle! Probably most of you just don’t even know what that is, but you like the sound of power. It’s like, “Yes, please. I’ll take some.” We’re going to walk through it. I’m going to give you some basic examples of how I work it into the program, so it’s not just like, “Oh, this is how you do it, and if you do this progression, you’re good.” We work it in all different ways, but I’m just going to walk you through one example.

It actually ties in really well with the science of stretching that we talked about before, and if you missed that one, if you just probably scroll down the blog page quite a ways because you’ll hit the one we did on Thursday first, which was the aerobic deficit, which you should totally watch.

It explains why you get so gas so fast on the ice, but then we talked about the science of mobility training, the science of stretching.


This is another visual post so watch the video if you want to see what I’m talking about!
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What we’re talking about today ties into that autogenic inhibition as trying to use that as a way to improve a goalie’s mobility and really watch that mobility one because if you’re not doing your mobility training, you’re actually just making yourself more vulnerable to injury, so you’re improving your range so that you can get injured, so you need to have these key ingredients so that you have control in those lengthened positions because in a lengthened position, your muscle is in the weakest position. They’re the least number of cross-bridges to give it support, and we explain all that in the science of stretching.

The other thing is that, to try and protect you from getting injured or protect you from getting injured as badly as you might get injured, there are nerve receptors in your muscles, and they trigger reflex responses to the rate of muscle stretches which is if a muscle is stretching too fast like if you’re kicking your leg out to the side, it’s going to cause a contraction because it’s like, “you’re going to pull this muscle right off the bone if you keep going, mister.”

It slams on the breaks. And sometimes that will give us an injury itself, it’s a reflex response. It just goes to our spinal cord and right back out just like if you touch a hot stove, the exact same type of response. Our brain is like, “You know what? I know that you got a little bit hurt there, but it’s a lot better than what would’ve happened if we just let you go crazy like that.”

The other one, so those are muscle spindles, the others are Golgi tendon organs, which are more in the muscular tenderness junction. They’re sensitive to high-force development, and their reflex responses actually let your muscle relax a little bit or actually relax like if we were super, super overloaded like if somebody just dropped 500 pounds on me, I would just buckle. My mind would be like, “No, no,” and if you’re trying to hold this, you’re going to smash yourself.

That’s some of the things we’re going to talk about. This is the key to not only enhancing performance so that you can … I know those saves aren’t like the textbook ideal save. The textbook ideal save is you want to look like Carey Price does 80% of the time like he just stands there and the puck just bounce into him because you’re playing so positionally well. But sometimes you need those ones, so it’s like, “Okay. How can we make it so that you can make those saves, you could tap in to that end range at high speed without triggering your muscle spindles to like slam on the breaks and say, ‘No, no, no, no, no?’”

It’s the eccentric power, and really, my exercise physiology professor would like slap me so hard right now because he’s like, “No. What eccentric power?” I want you to understand that eccentric power is being able to lengthen under control very, very quickly, and I’ll explain it. Don’t worry because there are different types of muscle actions.

Eccentric power basically has been used for years and years to reduce the risk of ACL tears in football players, soccer players, even hockey players. But again, it’s made for what they do, which is a lot of motion in a particular plane. It’s not made for what you guys do. Yes, ACL tears happen in goalies 100%, but there’s a way higher incidents of groin tears and those MCL strains because you’re groins are protecting you. Those kinds of things.

My work with the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic is the exercise specialist. This was our bread and butter like preventing injury when I worked with the varsity teams as their strength coach, and then still, it happens.

You can do everything right and still tear an ACL, and then rehabbing them so they could go back to their sport and actually perform better than they did before their injury, which sounds crazy, but it actually happened all the time.

What I did is I took what we were doing there and have adapted it to goalies, but really not like, “Oh, this is your injury prevention training.” It’s like, “No, no.” I think it’s Mike Boyle said like, “ACL injury prevention training or whatever, just say injury training to prevent injuries is just good training,” and I couldn’t agree more.

My number one job is to keep you healthy because if you’re tearing your groin and everything else, then it doesn’t matter if you’re the best goalie. Think of amazing goalies in the NHL that are hurt season after season after season. It doesn’t matter. That’s it, so job is to keep me happy … keep you happy and healthy.

We do that by teaching progressions and teaching progressions in the plane of movement where you guys are most vulnerable to injury, and it’s not like … Again, it’s not the kind of thing and you see it. Just go to YouTube. You see guys like jumping up on a box that’s really high. Number one, that’s … and you’ll see in a second. That’s a concentric action.

That’s not an eccentric action, so you’re actually losing a huge part of the sport-specific benefit because most injuries happen on eccentric loading, not concentric loading, but it’s like you can’t skip the steps. It’s everything we’ve talked about. You have to walk every mile.

You want to teach your muscles to exert force during lengthening contractions, and that’s when I weave into the …. Goalies don’t know it. They’re not like, “Oh, this is the eccentric power portion of my workout.” They’re just following the program, but this, I’m trying to explain a little bit of why we’re doing it and what we’re doing, so let me show you an example.

Jumping is a concentric action for my big muscles, so we’ll just say, to simplify it, quads, my gluts, and my hamstrings. Jumping is a concentric action, so when I jump, my major muscle contract. Boom, that’s concentric, so the muscle shortens. It’s like I’ve pulled the spring, and then I’ve contracted muscle and it shortens, and that’s what pops me up in the air.

An eccentric action is a lengthening, so if I’ve jumped in the air and now I’m landing, my muscles are lengthening, but under tension. If there wasn’t tension, I would just collapse in a bag of bones on the floor, so they’re controlling me. I think of eccentric actions as my anti-lock brakes because I’m not landing my jump really stiff, you know? I’m landing my jump absorbing that force using my muscles over a range. That’s the difference between concentric and eccentric.

But then there’s also an isometric action, which would really just if I did a squat and hold, when I’m holding, that’s isometric. So my muscles are under tension, but there’s no overall change in length.

So let’s review! A concentric action is … when I lift a weight with my bicep I’m shortening that muscle. Okay? If I had a weight and I’m lowering it, that muscle is lengthening, but it’s under tension. AND if I’m just holding it there, it’s not changing, that’s isometric. Those are the three types of muscle actions.

Okay. I think we’re ready to progress to the stages. Do you guys want to progress to the stages now? Then, at the end of the video (if you watch it), I’m going to show you something very cool that I just came up with today because I was dinking around in the gym. This next part is where it gets visual so it does help to watch the video!

So what I’m going to do now is I’m going to use the TRX to show you these progressions. You don’t need the TRX to do these progressions though. When I use these progressions in the ShutOut Academy, I usually just … We do it on a smooth floor like the hardwood floor or linoleum floor and just put a towel under our foot to do the same type of thing. You can do the same type of thing using a slide board or even a puck board. It doesn’t matter. Again, I’m just picking this progression because it’s simple and it’s relevant. It’s actually really similar, the progression we worked on the mobility, but I want you to understand the difference of how we’re using it.

I want you to know this isn’t the starting point of your mobility. This is like you’re doing your mobility progressions and now we’re working on developing eccentric power. Cool?

First thing we would do … so we’ve already got our isometric activation with our FRC-type stretches. Now, we’re going to do some eccentric acclamation. Eccentric acclamation means we are just lengthening, but not doing a concentric. So we start in a half butterfly position with our leg extended all the way out comfortably. From that position, I’m nice and comfortable, I’m going to go out for about a count of five or six seconds, and I feel that in my hips.

Then, I’m going to put my hands down and come back up, so I’m using my hands to pull me back up. I am not using a concentric or shortening action of my muscle. I’m just lengthening it.

Again, remember. We cannot force this because we have those reflexes that will say, “No, no, no, no.” We have to like when you’re a teenager and your parents let you out with the car. The first time your parents lets you go out with the car, they’re like, “I want that car in the garage like 10:30.” and so you’re like, “Hmm, hmm, hmm.” 10:30, you come home. Car is in the garage. Car is clean. The tank is full of gas. “Mom and dad, blah, blah, blah. We had a great night.” So then, the next night, your parents are like, “Okay. Well, have the car home by 11:00.” Before you know it, you’re wheeling in at 1:30. Mom and dad are in bed. They don’t know that your friend was chugging beers … No, I’m just kidding, but you see what I mean?

So just keep letting your body know, “Okay. This is fine. This is fine.” So then, we’ve got that down. Then the next one will be, we’re going to lengthen a little bit quicker, pause, but again, no concentric. The TRX is a harder version than doing it on the floor because it’s not stable, right? There’s a little play in there. So quick lengthen, quick pause, hands down, come up.

The next progression will be lengthen, pause, slow concentric. I lengthen fast, I paused, and then slowly return without my hands. Lengthen, pause, slow concentric. Let’s do that one more time. Fast out, and then pause, and then control it back up, pulling with both of my adductors or both my groins.

The next one will be quick eccentric, pause, quick concentric. Quick eccentric, pause, quick concentric. Then, the next progression is … Can you guess what it is? Eccentric to concentric length, so it will be back and forth quickly but controlled. And I’m really staying a little more in that outside range because that’s where you need it. Like up over a neutral over my hip, I’m pretty good. It’s not a whole lot of overload.

Then, we could add overload. Then, we could add a medicine ball for some resistance. Then, we could add different positions but again, you have to start back at the beginning. You can’t just grab a big med ball and then start smashing around. You have to progress back. But I would start with turning my body, reaching with my arm one way, reaching with my arm another way to get it in.

I would like a little rotation to try to keep that flow going out and in because a lot of times too, that’s where we get in trouble. It’s not just the kick. It’s like, “Oh, I kicked and I reached,” or, “I kicked and I reached.”

Now, I’m going to give you the sick one. This is the one that when you see it on Instagram, you’re going to call people on and be like, “No, no, no.” it’s called the Maria Mountain Super Splits Drill, right?

This is another way we can trick those muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organ if we unload a little bit. You know what? Even when we do like assisted splits, we have like a foam roller, and we hold, and we do our assisted splits. It’s still not comfortable, is it? Like our muscles never just feel like, “Oh, this feels good.” It’s always like, “Ugh, ugh.” Like that, and that is not conducive to telling your body and your brain like, “Oh, this is fine. Everything is good.” It’s like your body is like, “Yeah. See? I told you it was a bad idea. I told you don’t do it.”

So we grab a super band. I have probably an inch and a half super band. We’re going to set it up like a Jolly Jumper for humans. Hook it onto something stable and put the band under your armpits to support you.

Actually, I really like it for again just working those splits to get down, but then I was thinking, “Hey, like how can we get this to be a little bit more of a length and contraction so we can go?” I came up with a couple of varieties, I’ll post some more on Instagram as we go, but I think this is a really good one. To get that a little bit of impulse as we lengthen, we can do small little jumps that take us a little big deeper into the split every time. Only go about as far as you can get and then come back up in the same small jumping motion. This is working on that length, but getting a little bit of impulse working through those adductors.

A couple of take-home points. Number one, not everybody’s hips are going to move every which way and feel good. If you’re stretching and you’re feeling pain in a joint or it’s just like, “Ugh,” it won’t go, and you’re not feeling like it’s stretched in the muscle, your body doesn’t move that way. And so some people are like, “I’m just going to stretch more.” It’s like, “And it feels worse, but I’m going to keep stretching.” It’s like, “No.” Like if you hit yourself on the head with a hammer and you’re like, “It feels terrible, but I think if I just keep going, it will feel better.” No.

So then, your next step, “Hey, why am I feeling this? Is it something that can maybe be resolved with manual therapy or a really good physiotherapist can give me some specific things to help me figure out why I feel like that?” because your neighbour might … “Oh, I had the same thing, and it was this and that,” but that might not be you, so figure it out.

At the end of the day, it might just be like, “No, your hips don’t do that.” There are lots of great goalies, even goalies in the NHL that don’t have a wide butterfly flair and cannot do this split so don’t think, “Oh, well, it’s because blah, blah, blah.” You’re fine. You just have to play a style that suits you.

The other thing is this is low-volume stuff, so you’ll usually do it in our mobility training. Sometimes, we’ll do it as an active recovery, but it’s usually just one or two sets, two, maybe three days a week. You know those phases I outlined like isometric, eccentric, no concentric, eccentric, slow concentric, eccentric to concentric? You spend about two to three weeks at each of those phases to try to get  your body to adapt. You’ve got to give your body that time to adapt. Even if it feels good, you can’t be like, “Oh, that felt fine. I’m going to go to the next one,” because your body hasn’t changed. So give it that time because if you try to just speed through them, you will hurt yourself like full on, you’ll hurt yourself, and that’s the last thing I want to happen.

Also, your off-ice training doesn’t stop when your season starts, and I know it’s hard because you’re thinking maybe what you did in the summer. You’re like, “I don’t have an hour and a half five days a week to train during the season. It’s just like too busy.” You don’t need to. You need about 20 to 40 minutes, maybe two times a week, and then keep up with your mobility, which is why that was a big emphasis on some posts so you can keep up with that because we see it all the time, guys and girls that come back after their season, and they have lost so much strength, so much fitness, so much flexibility, so that tells us, “Hey, when you’re getting to your playoffs, you’re worse than you were at the start of the season,” and that is not how you want it to go.

Again, you might have a trainer you work with who looks after all that or your team looks after all that, that’s perfect. If you want a program that I just have done for you, check out the I’m pitching that every time because it’s awesome and it’s a great community of goalies too. There’s a private Facebook page. Not Goalie Training Lab. That’s something different, and it’s just such a super group, and that’s tied to your season. Right now, we’re just finishing our off-season. Starting September, there’ll be in-season workout so that it’s synced with where you’re at,

Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being my passion. I will catch you guys later on. Bye-bye.