Parents often ask me, “What can my child do at home?” to stay fit and get stronger. First, it’s important to keep it all in perspective. Parents don’t need to go out and break the bank buying loads of fitness equipment to help their young player get in shape. Every time I design a home program for young hockey players, parents are surprised that I prescribe exercises for the only equipment they need: their own bodies.
I like to suggest a young player use their hockey stick to perform body weight squats by putting it behind their shoulders. Or they can use it as a tool to do single-leg reverse dead lifts.
Player’s muscles often become very tight from over-activity on the ice, so it’s important to maintain the quality of muscle tissue. Taking care of the body is a priority over adding strength because if any hockey player has muscle imbalances, tightness, or postural issues, it is unwise to add strength to an imbalanced body. You could end up making yourself worse if you don’t fix those weak links first and maintain the quality of muscle tissue.
Young hockey players only need to perform body weight exercises at home to increase their strength, but if I had to recommend one piece of equipment to use daily, it would be a foam roller or massage stick. These are excellent tools for helping players relieve tension and knots in the muscles and increase circulation, allowing the player to feel better and move better.
Trust me, it’s the best piece of equipment you’ll ever purchase. Below is a sequence in which a hockey player should use the foam roller to massage specific parts of their body.
- Start by rolling back and forth on your bottom or glutes.
- Then turn to each side of your hips and roll around looking for tender spots.
- Roll back and forth along your hamstrings.
- Then continue on to your lower back and up to the shoulder blades.
- Finally, turn around and roll back and forth along the front of your legs (quadriceps)
You might experience some very tender spots and feel light discomfort, but it’s a clear sign that you need to roll out on a daily basis. Avoiding these techniques can possibly lead to very tight hips and an imbalance throughout the whole body, limiting optimal movement and potentially leading to an injury.