From the Trainer’s Room: Post-season rest, recovery in hockey
As many junior, college and youth hockey seasons come to an end, it’s time to step back and take a look at the year, recover from the harsh demands both physically and mentally, and set goals for the coming offseason.
Hopefully, you are playing in the USA Hockey National Championships, NCAA Frozen Four or junior playoffs, but if you aren’t, sit back and enjoy watching the games. See what those players are doing and what you need to improve on to get there next season.
As you look back at your season, look at both the positives and the negatives. Break these things down into a team aspect and personal aspect. Although you may not be returning to the same team next season, look at how you made an impact on your teammates. Think about what you did to make the team better. This could be anything from working hard on the penalty kill that led to high PK percentage rate or scoring goals not only in numbers, but important goals that changed the game. Look at your leadership off the ice. Did you focus in meetings, work on the little things to make yourself and your team better?
Hockey seasons can involve anywhere from 25-80 games. The physical demands of playing tournaments, showcases, travel, practices, lessons can not only take a toll on your body physically, but also emotionally. Take some time off the ice and out of the gym to let your body recover and to be a kid or young adult again and focus on a few other things that make you happy. This is a great time to address nagging injuries as well, so when it’s time to get back at it, your body feels good again.
It’s also a time to work on some of the small things that aren’t too demanding, but may not have been addressed as well during the season. This may include flexibility, mobility and strengthening of small stability muscles to aid in injury prevention.
Hopefully, you had an exit interview with your coach at the end of the season to get his/her opinion on what you need to improve to get the next level. If not, you can always contact them to get some ideas on what you will need to do to prepare for next season. Compare yourself to others at times and ask yourself, “What am I better at than others? What are others better than me at?”
Look at where you want to play next season and see what you need to improve on. This could be things like skate faster, shoot more accurately or be stronger on the puck. Take views from different angles to help you decide what you will need to do to be successful at the next level.
There is no perfect offseason plan as the summer seems to change at almost every level. The length of the season can change if you run deep into the playoffs, some seasons begin earlier than others, and some summers are filled with showcases and camps that are necessary.
With this in mind, each individual’s plan may be different and even your own plan may differ from year to year. The goal is to maximize the offseason so you are best prepared when training camp opens.
Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 30 years’ experience in professional sports, including eight years in the NHL with the Ducks and Capitals. Chris is the owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County, Calif., and can be reached through www.competeperformance.com.
Photo provided by Compete Sports Performance and Rehab
(March 9, 2023)