There’s no better time than the offseason to focus on key elements of your game. It’s not secret, and it’s nothing new. Players and coaches will use the key time periods between May and August to hone and refine stickhandling skills, shots, faceoffs and pad saves. Another element that can’t be forgotten to focus on is your strength and conditioning.
But where do you start? How much is too much when it comes to dryland and weight training?
Thomas Boothby, director of sports performance and co-founder of Boothby Sports Performance in Hingham, says it all begins by building the proper foundation of strength and conditioning.
“You need to set the stage and make sure the foundational work is there before adding the strength,” says Boothby. “I’ll correlated it to building a beach house foundation; If you don’t have the correct foundation to the house, it will never survive. The foundational work is where I find to be the most beneficial to each separate age group. It’s only going to make the strength better as players grow.”
We’ve broken down the aspects of strength and conditioning into further ‘foundations’ to help guide you the rest of the offseason.
It should come as no shock that an eight-year-old should not be on the same strength and conditioning plan as a 12-year-old. Like every aspect of the American Development Model, the approach to offseason training needs to be taken on an age-by-age basis to ensure a player’s safety and proper development.
“When it comes to strength and conditioning, you’re really looking at that middle school age group,” Boothby says. “That’s where we try to have the most influence because were trying to set patterns. We’re trying to set lifestyle routines. I do like not getting much younger than 12 with any type of weight training. Younger than that should be focused on training purely with their body weight in order to do things efficiently.
“With the body changing and going through puberty stages, I think your ability to figure out what your body is capable of doing prior to adding the weight is important. Sometimes weights can pull us out of position. I’m not saying players can’t work with weights at that age, but I don’t think emphasis for that echelon of athletes should be on that. At a middle school age, we can get a bit more in tune with the weight and trying to build up strength.”
Raise your hand if you’re eager to grab a baseball glove/lacrosse stick/tennis racket -- anything but a hockey stick come offseason?
We can’t stress enough the importance of taking a break from hockey and enjoying other sports and activities in the offseason. To add to that plea, it’s actually beneficial when it comes to strength and conditioning training, too.
“It’s absolutely more beneficial to be a multisport athlete to avoid getting set in one certain pattern of movements,” says Boothby. “It creates overall athleticism and improves overall movement patterns and increases what you’re capable of in training.
“With the aid of multiple sports, you may end up meeting or even exceeding your expectations in strength and conditioning training, and help avoid overuse injuries at the same time.”
Flexibility, Range and Conditioning Foundations
Continuing on the multisport angle, Boothby says one of the big things he looks for in athletes while training is the flexibility ability.
“As we try to develop a power output, we have to see if we are able to maximize a range of motion, as well as try to stabilize the join that correlates to precise power output.”
“In general, strength looks for outputs,” he explains. “What is our range and what types of motions are our bodies capable of? Once we know our body’s own capabilities, we can assess ways to train them.
“When it comes to strength and conditioning, we are focused on the foundation to avoid exhaustion on the ice. We are working toward improvement for little moments and breakdowns in the game -- the times you get stuck on the ice. We want to be able to produce, and more importantly reproduce, output throughout the entirety of a game or practice. That’s the difference between good and great players. Great players reproduce plays, and I think that’s so important. It’s hard to push your max output while being able to reproduce that same output, so that’s why we strength and condition.”
Set Your Goals
Set your goals for the offseason. Make a list, use it to keep your eye on the prize. With that and some dedication, the rest will fall into place ahead of the 2021-22 year.
“Your strength and training regimen has to be dependent on the athlete and the goals they set. It has to be driven by the child,” reminds Boothby. “The kid has to have the goals, and we just try to support those goals. I wish there was a secret recipe, but everyone is a little different. If you have perspective goals to meet, aim for those.”