What Limits your Hockey Performance

Updated: Aug 5, 2018

When skating full-out, what slows you down?

When I ask this question, the majority of people say 'fatigue' is this the cause, something we can feel and provides a signal that we can assess and then train it. The next response, is usually 'the legs' and some even say 'the heart'. Ok, now we are looking deeper and focusing more attention to the question - this means we need to ask more questions.

Let us begin with a scenario, you are stranded on a mountain and begin to freeze, what does your brain do to keep you alive? It moves the blood to the centre of the body (the vital organs) to keep you alive as long as possible - it is all about survival. The brain does not care about your fingers, toes, ears and nose; it only knows survival. The same response happens in hockey when skating full-out and you start to push the limit (one of the vital organs is threatened), your brain does care that you are playing hockey, it only knows survival. Your brain will limit the blood flow to the limbs to save the vital organs. Now, you 'feel' the legs are heavy and you think...you believe, the legs are shutting down. You are right in one way, the legs are shutting down but there is a hidden reason - survival.

The million dollar question: What is the hidden reason for this limitation in all athletes? Time for more questions :) Think of one of many times, that you stayed out on the Power Play a little too long, the penalty ends, and you have to back-check...what did you feel or what came into your attention? Another scenario, when you climb up a few fight of stairs, what do you feel or what do you notice? If you cannot remember, go walk up 2 or 3 flights of stairs and pay attention to what changes just as you start to slow down. You can do the same with squatting for 20 seconds, around 15 seconds you will notice a change...what is it that you feel? Your breathing!

Did you remember the experience or did you actually do the exercise. Before we go any further, we have to learn (or 'earn' ) two things - the difference between knowing by reading and knowing by experience, plus how to be attentive. Very important skills - this is where you write it down as it will be on the test :) Go walk up a few flight of stairs, or do squats for 20 seconds and pay attention to when your breathing increases and shortens. Do it a second time, but before you start, perform 4 deep full-breaths. Did it take longer before you became aware of the change in your breathing rate? Now recover your breathing completely, and this time hold your breath for 10 seconds as you walk around, then repeat the climb or squats. How quick did you notice your breathing rate quicken? This is called - Experiential Learning and you now 'Know' the reason your legs (and arms) will shut down - Breathing.

So the last question for this blog is....how do I Train iT?

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