Aldan Performance

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By: Brandon Aldan – Bio

When I ask players what area of their hockey game they would most like to improve, most tell me their shooting. That’s because goal scoring is considered the most glorious aspect of hockey. To put the puck in the net, you need to develop power and accuracy with all your shots.

Most players realize that off-ice training is a great way to add some zip to their shots but, few know how to train for that specific purpose. A general strength training program will enhance total body strength that will improve shooting but, this article focuses on a few exercises that are often missing from most programs and can have a major impact on shooting power.

Power Production in Shooting
Force is produced in most sports movements through the means of what biomechanists know as the kinetic chain. This concept is based on the way that force is initiated by the larger, more powerful muscles and acceleration is continued down the kinetic chain to the smaller, faster muscles. This can be seen in the slap shot where the lower body initiates force development to accelerate the stick down toward the ice. The legs, hips, and muscles of the abdominal region (rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus, internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum, and erector spinae) transfer their force to the upper torso and to the wrist and hands. The upper body is important for producing power but, research demonstrates that as much as 70% of the force of a wrist shot is produced from the hips and abdominal region which is known as the “core.” Therefore, core strength and power should be the priority otherwise, increased upper body strength will not actually translate into shooting power. Typically, the most effective exercises will integrate core stability with limb movement.

Balance is also essential to transfer your power to the ice. Unilateral (single-leg) lower body exercises such as, single-leg squats and single-leg RDL’s will develop balance while building strength. Balance exercises can also be done between sets as an active recovery.
Following are some great exercises that can improve shot power and accuracy.

Core and Lower Body Exercises
One-Leg Squat with reverse chop- Begin by standing on one leg with a medball held with arms extended diagonally and slowly squat down and chop down with the medball toward the opposite hip then return to the starting position by reversing the movement. The upward phase of the chop is resisted.

Anti-Rotation Press- Standing sideways to a cable machine or resistance band, begin with hands clasped around the handle in the middle of the chest. Press out until arms are extended without allowing the torso to rotate. Focus on keeping the core tight throughout the movement.

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Cable or Band Twist- Hold a cable at arms length and rotate at the torso while the hips remain fixed. Slowly return to the starting position. This is a good exercise to superset or alternate with the anti-rotation press.

Core Bar Chops- Grasp the handle of a cable machine at arms length overhead. From a staggered stance rotate at the torso and hips while pulling the cable down toward the floor in a similar motion to chopping wood with an axe. Emphasize the eccentric phase by coming back up to the starting position slowly and allowing the bar to come away from the body.

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Medball Side Toss- Stand sideways to a partner who is facing the same direction.  Throw a moderately heavy medicine ball to the partner using the hips and torso.  A great variation of this drill is to take an explosive crossover step before each throw. This is best done against a wall with a bouncy medball rather than throwing to a partner which can be dangerous. This aids in learning to produce force explosively.

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Upper Body Exercises
Although, most force is produced from the waist down, the upper body is essential to transferring momentum to the stick. Forearm and hand strength are important but, that importance is often overstated by some coaches. The hands and forearms affect the last link in the kinetic chain so they must have sufficient strength to transfer the force generated by the larger muscles. Insufficient strength can limit that transfer but, this is a relatively uncommon limiter as a properly-designed general strength program should develop adequate strength in the hands and forearms.

As stated earlier, core and lower body strength/power is more important and therefore demand priority but, the following upper body exercises are effective for developing shooting power and accuracy.

Bar Isometric- hold an immovable bar at an angle similar to the position at ice impact of a slap shot and press with the bottom hand while stabilizing the “stick” with the top hand. Hold this for about 5 seconds contracting as hard as possible. This will develop the ability to flex the stick which is necessary for a powerful slap shot.

Stick Supination/Pronation- hold a hockey stick near the end and rotate it over to where it is parallel to the floor. Turn the stick over to return it to the starting position.

Grip- Grip strength is important in stabilizing the stick at impact. A very effective and simple exercise is the tennis ball squeeze. Simply squeeze a tennis ball as hard as possible for 5-10 seconds.

Band Twisting Press- The twisting row and press are excellent exercises to integrate the core and upper body muscles. Grasp a band in one hand while in a staggered stance (same leg as resisted arm in back) and press forward while rotating at the hips and torso.
Band Twisting Row- This is done from the same position as the previous exercise while the exercise is done in reverse by pulling the band while rotating.

All exercises must be done with excellent technique to maximize effectiveness. Perform 2-3 sets of 6-8 repetitions of each exercise, 2-3 days per week. I can’t guarantee that you’ll be blasting shots from the blue line like Al MacInnis used to or that you’ll lace a quick shot with the pinpoint accuracy of Steven Stamkos but, you’ll drastically improve your goal-scoring with some off-ice strength and power training. Be patient and be consistent with your program and you will certainly yield some impressive results.

Core Bar Chop: View Video

Anti-Rotation Press: View Video

Step-In Medball Toss: View Video