The Goalie Training Dilemma

A window to your wheelhouse.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just open a window into the workings of the human body and see exactly what adaptations were occurring (both good and bad) with different goalie training programs?

Imagine.  You could do a set of heavy back squats and see your quads, glutes and hamstrings all get stronger, get better at utilizing energy and more resistant to fatigue.  But then you could look a little deeper and  – ‘oh oh’ it looks like we are also adding some wear and tear to the vertebral discs at the same time.

Okay, let’s contrast that to a set of barbell front squats – ah ha!  We get the same benefits to the legs without the back squat, but as we take a look at those vertebral discs we don’t see the same degree of wear and tear.  Okay, now we know exactly what to do – keep the front squat and can the back squat.

Of course it is not like that, so there is a dilemma there.  Ideally, as a strength and conditioning coach it would be great to have scientific research and proof guiding every aspect of program design.  The truth is, there simply isn’t.

the science of goalie trainingThe goal of science…

It is not all that surprising really. Scientific research is expensive and, oddly enough, most Universities and Colleges are more interested in finding a cure for cancer than they are in finding out the best way to strengthen hockey players.

What we get is lots of little pilot projects going on in gyms and training studios all over the world and coaches coming together (hopefully) to share their findings.  We see this guy producing lots of productive and injury resistant athletes over here – what is he doing?  Does that make sense based on the science that exists?  Now take a look at what they are doing over there – WOW – they are sending some of their athletes to the emergency room – let’s not do what they do.

If we sit around waiting from the ‘true science’ to catch up – I would not be using Kettlebells, the TRX or sleds yet.  You can see how waiting for the science is impractical.  Then take into account that some of the researchers (not all of them) have never actually trained a competitive athlete – their experience is truly theoretical so some of the research design can be flawed or the method of evaluation does not mirror the way the muscles are actually used in sport.

In the field practitioners usually lead the researchers in innovation.  A strength coach will have success with a new tool or method.  People will start talking about it – usually for a few years – and then a scientist may do a study to validate or contradict the reported benefits.

And although they may do a wonderful study to show that this training protocol increases the isokinetic force production of the knee extensors in a seated position – that does not translate into the way an athlete uses the knee extensors in sport, so how can we really use that information?

art of goalie trainingEinstein and VanGogh

So a great strength and conditioning coach is part scientist and part artist (VanGogh is my favourite).  They keep up with the current research, but are equipped with enough understanding of research methods to determine if the data is relevant to the athlete in motion.  They apply the concepts of the relevant research to their program design and observer the results.

A great strength and conditioning coach interacts with other coaches to see what is working for them – then they evaluate the methods based on the existing research and basic physiology – does it make sense.  Then they keep what works and discard what is not working or exercises that exceed the acceptable risk: reward ratio.

A great strength coach will continually be tweaking their program as they find better methods or re-discover old methods.  If your strength coach has used the exact same program for the last 2-years, then I suggest it is time to find a new strength coach.

So when someone asks me how I now my goalie training programs are the best, the truth is I don’t really know they are the best and over time they will change (I have already released a 2.0 version based on changes to my training methodology), but I do know they work and that is how I can offer the 60-day money back guarantee, because they are based on the current best practices.

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Maria Mountain

Maria Mountain is a Fitness Coach and the owner of Revolution Conditioning in London, Ontario. She helps hockey players from AAA to professionals compete at their highest level while reducing their risk of injury. Dedicated to athletes who want to work hard, but train smart.

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