Five mistakes to avoid in off-ice training
Last Updated: April 1, 2009 4:35 PM
Kim Mccullough The Female Game
Back when I was 15 years old, I started doing off-ice training in hopes of getting an edge on my competition and becoming the best female hockey player possible. But I had no idea that the training I was doing was completely inappropriate for me as an aspiring girls hockey player.
Here are the five big mistakes that female hockey players need to avoid if they are going to take their on-ice performance to the next level safely through off-ice training.
Mistake #1 - Lifting too much weight:
When I first starting training off the ice, I was working out with guys who were already playing major junior and college hockey. I didn't want to be seen as the "weak" girl - so I was always pushing myself to lift more weight than I should have been in a desperate attempt to "keep up with the boys". Trying to train (and keep up) with future NHL stars and men's college hockey players when I was 15 years old seems crazy now - especially since I had absolutely no experience with off-ice training. Lifting too much weight was especially dangerous, especially when coupled with mistake #2.
Mistake #2 - Using poor form when lifting:
Lifting too much weight with bad form is a recipe for disaster for any athlete. I always thought that lifting more weight was more important than lifting the weight with perfect form. To me, higher weights meant I was stronger - when in reality, I was just cheating my way through the lifts, using completely improper form in order to try to move a bigger weight.
Mistake #3 - Using too many machines:
As a young player, I remember taking great pride in how much weight I could push on the leg press machine - and it wasn't pretty. I would have been much better off focusing on single-leg body-weight strength exercises, instead of huffing and puffing away on those stupid machines. Now my philosophy on machine-based training is simple: girls hockey players should NOT be training on weight training machines.
Instead of having an athlete perform abdominal crunches or chest presses on a machine, we should be teaching them how to move and control their entire body in free space. Think about it - when was the last time you saw a hockey player execute a skill or movement on the ice while fully supported by some bulky machine or by using only a few muscles at a time? In order to excel on the ice, players must master fundamental movement patterns off the ice that integrate coordination, balance and strength - and that can't happen while sitting on a machine.
Mistake #4 - never taking a day off:
I genuinely believed that every day I took off, another aspiring female hockey player would be training her hardest, and when we met up on the ice, she would beat me. It's silly I know - but that's the mentality that drove me to be my best on and off the ice each and every day. I can count on two hands the number of days I took off from on-ice or off-ice training the entire time I was in high school and college. Again, I was dedicated and committed. But I never gave my body the chance to recover, and that's what ultimately led to my body breaking down and my early retirement.
Mistake #5 - not building a foundation of strength and stability first:
This is probably my biggest mistake of all. I now know that if I had built up the foundation of core stability and single-leg strength that I needed to excel at the elite levels of women's hockey, before I started throwing big heavy weights around, my career would have been much longer and more successful.
I thought strength training meant weight training. All hockey players, no matter their age or ability level, must build a solid foundation of body-weight strength and stability before they touch a weight. Period.
So there you have it - the five biggest off-ice training mistakes I made as an aspiring girls hockey player. Girls need to train hard and get stronger if they want to take their performance to the next level, but they also need to train smart.