Girls Hockey Players Must Build Strength
Girls hockey players MUST get stronger, faster and fitter this off-season if they want to take their game to the next level.
If girls address these 3 key components in their hockey workouts this summer, they will be a better player once September rolls around.
Hockey-specific strength training is the most fundamental component of off-season off-ice player development and must be built BEFORE speed and conditioning.
Without a solid foundation of strength and stability in place, young female players will NOT be able to use their speed and fitness to their greatest extent and will NOT be able to perform at the highest level both on and off the ice.
However, coaches and parents of young female players have some concerns about strength training.
Let’s look at each of the 4 most common concerns in more detail.
Concern #1: With no body checking in the female game, off-ice strength training isn’t necessary.
‘No body checking’ doesn’t equal ‘no body contact’. Since female hockey players are not allowed to use body checking as a means of separating the opposition from the puck, they must rely on their speed and body positioning in order to do so. By participating in a properly designed strength training program, female athletes will develop the total body strength needed to win races for the puck and battles along the boards.
Concern #2: If I start strength training, I am going to ‘look like a man’.
Fundamental physiological differences between genders makes ‘looking like a man’ virtually impossible for female athletes. Females have fewer muscle fibres and much less testosterone than males, which makes gaining large amounts of lean muscle extremely difficult. Furthermore, gaining a large amount of lean muscle mass requires very specific programs that are not effective in young athletes due to their lack of physiological readiness for this type of training and their lack of strength training experience overall.
Concern #3: Starting strength training at a young age will lead to injury.
Females are no more likely to be injured while performing strength training than males. Young athletes tend to get injured when they receive poor instruction on technique or are exposed to a level of training that is inappropriate to their age and ability. Proper instruction of correct techniques, coupled with a safe and gradual progression of intensity, will actually help to prevent injuries both on and off the ice.
Concern #4: Males strength train. Females don’t.
Perhaps more important than the structured physiological development of a young female hockey player is the proper psychological development. Young females are constantly bombarded with images and messages about what constitutes the ‘ideal’ female body shape. As a result, female athletes competing in sports that require strength and power may be more susceptible to psychological issues related to body image that are not typical with male athletes. Most young male hockey players desperately want to get bigger, faster and stronger. Young female hockey players must be empowered: parents and coaches must let them know that it is to their benefit to be strong, both as athletes and as people.
Proper strength training does NOT require players to push around weights and will NOT lead to them becoming “muscle bound”. They DON’T need to join an expensive gym and they DON’T need use any fancy equipment.
With body-weight strength training, girls’ hockey players can build the strength and stability in all of the muscles and joints that support and power hockey-specific movements.
Body-weight strength training is the most fundamental component to enhancing on-ice performance this off-season.
About the Author
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS is a Player Development Specialist and Founder of Total Female Hockey. In addition to training and coaching girls at all levels of hockey, from novice to the National team, Kim has also played at the highest level of women’s hockey in the world for the last decade. Kim’s female player development website ( http://www.totalfemalehockey.com ) features a state-of-the-art Complete Off-Season Training Program and her blog ( http://www.totalfemalehockey.blogspot.com ) gives the coaches and parents of aspiring young players access to the most up-to-date tips and advice on how to help their players take their game to the next level. To learn more about female-specific player development, get your Free Report: The #1 Mistake Female Players Make in the Off-Season at http://www.totalfemalehockey.com
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