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Balance vital for optimal power position

By Peter Twist

A skater’s perfect position to apply optimal power is his perfect position of balance. Even massive football linemen would get an edge through balance training. Likewise, hockey players need whole-body stability to battle well and avoid injury. With training, they can automatically assume a more stable position before applying or absorbing force.

Balance drills are also designed to improve joint stability by removing weak links in the body. Players often load up weight on the bench press and feel strong in the weight room. But in a standing position when applying force against an opponent, they are only as strong as their stabilizing muscles. And they need to find the most advantageous position, the most stable position, from which they can apply the most force. Balance drills train any weak links in the body, creating a stronger full body, one that can perform well in a standing position.

Although a balanced stance and a linked body increase the force that a player can create in a standing position, which helps when battling for the puck or blasting a slap shot from the point, skilled movement is not always about producing the most force. For optimal skill execution, some muscles must contract powerfully, other muscles must stabilize, and still others need to relax. Some of the working muscles need full-out efforts; others need to apply a small amount of force. Becoming in tune with the body to learn how to apply just the right amount of force enhances skilled and fluid movement.and the concentric contraction (the start). Transitional balance aims for proper weight distribution while activating all the deceleration muscles to brake into a perfectly balanced position, with knees flexed, center of gravity low and over the braking leg, and aggressive body lean. Essentially, players decelerate into the perfect starting mechanics.

Being in a perfect balance position is also important to each stride, whether executing linear power strides, crossing over, or skating backward. Achieving perfect balance on each stride will result in more movement per stride and less expenditure of energy, a powerful combination.

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Hockey.

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