What should a player do to prepare their body before a game? Skating around the rink before a game or practice is a great way to increase player’s core temperature, but if you have flexibility and mobility issues you need a completely differently way to prepare. The better a player can move, the more comfortable they will be on the ice.
Ease-of-movement will take your game to a whole new level.
I try to stress preparation with players first, before even thinking about trying to help them increase speed, strength, agility, conditioning or anything else. Your game starts with the ability to move properly and efficiently. Everything else will come together when you have ease-of-movement, but trying to build on top of poor movement patterns can actually make a player worse.
It doesn’t take long to prove to parents and coaches the quality of movement and the difference a player can notice on the ice when they make flexibility and mobility their primary focus. Last fall, I presented at a coaches symposium for the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association in South Surrey, BC. I was asked to demonstrate proper warm-up techniques and exercises coaches could use with their team before games and practices, but I thought they already have plenty of knowledge in that area. So, instead, I wanted to show them how to help players move better before warming up.
When I asked a couple of adults to step up to the stage and perform three simple body mechanic movements, it wasn’t long before everyone realized how important quality movement really is. There was no need to show how to increase core temperature when the two participants couldn’t even stand on one leg or squat properly. The point of the demonstration was to show that warming up does nothing to help a player move well on the ice if they have flexibility and mobility issues. It’s not just about stretching muscles but learning how to activate specific muscle groups that don’t normally ‘fire’ or are ‘turned off’.
Here are six tips to increase your mobility, and get the whole body prepared for optimal movement before hitting the ice and warming up before games or practices:
1. Always start by foam-rolling every major muscle group.
2. Then, perform the good old ‘hip stretch’ called the ‘Pigeon’ in yoga terms.
3. Stand up, feet wide apart and shift back and forth into side lunges, stretching the groin muscles.
4. Feet together, touch toes, with a light bounce. Stand tall, arms overhead, arch back and repeat.
5. Take a squat stance and bounce into a deep squat, feet turned out and repeat up and down.
6. Lying on your side, knees together, rotate the top arm back to the floor and repeat.