The Blackhawks didn’t make the playoffs this year, so it gave them some extra time to prepare for next season. Another positive thing about the extra time is that they got to make use of their new practice facility, which opened late last year.
In addition to the two ice rinks, the new facility has spacious training rooms and an enormous gym. The team can practice their quickness and shooting with machines that fire pucks at them. Let’s see what else the Blackhawks are doing to prepare for, hopefully, a better next season.
After a few weeks of rest, hockey players take up what they call “drylands,” exercises which are off the ice and not specific to hockey. They may conduct dryland exercises for four to six weeks before they get on the ice again.
Post-season drylands focus on building and maintaining strength, increasing speed and building endurance. Since they’re not actively playing hockey at this time, the players can add a couple of hours to their workouts without overdoing it.
Players spend time in the weight room and follow a team workout. They sprint short distances and jog longer ones. They also engage in plyometrics, also known as “jump training,” which increases their power, balance and agility.
Hockey players work their core with sit-ups, crunches, trunk roles and hyperextension of their back muscles. These grueling exercises keep them physically fit as well as strong. Plus, developing core muscles can help prevent injuries while playing a contact sport like hockey.
You think a medicine ball is heavy? Try running with one while in the water. Aquatic training uses ankle weights, resistance gloves and exercise balls to increase strength, endurance and agility. Your choice of weight depends on which muscle groups you want to target.
Most exercises can be duplicated in the water to give you a much different workout. Hockey players gain an edge by challenging their muscles to produce under water.
These exercises are usually not conducted in the deep end, as exhaustion is a major concern. The deep water can provide an extreme cardio workout, but there should always be adequate supervision. You need to be especially careful with a weighted, tired athlete in deep water.
Staying flexible is just as important as staying strong or being in shape. Hockey players maintain their flexibility, or they risk the chance of suffering an injury instead of just a fall or hit. Hockey players follow a before and after exercise stretching regimen that targets all the muscle groups.
Some players join yoga, which helps them stretch and hold their muscles in ways they might not get through traditional training. It also teaches them proper breathing and provides them with a peaceful state of mind — something they don’t find on a hockey rink.
Hopefully, the new Blackhawks training facility will give their athletes an added boost in this offseason. They’ve had extra time to regain their focus for next season. Let’s hope their time off the ice will make them better prepared and increase their chances to make it to the postseason next year.
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