Try something new to get your body & mind in sync this summer.
Visualization is an important tool for bantam and midget-aged hockey players.
The act of picturing yourself as a forward with the puck on a 2 on 1 or a goaltender facing down a breakaway helps relieve the pressure once that situation becomes a reality.
However, the true value of visualizing is in the practice it takes to completely relax and block out other thoughts.
The key to visualization is one of the most important elements hockey players can learn from yoga: focus.
Including focus, here's five benefits of yoga for hockey players:
The most obvious benefit is the constant stretching of muscles. When the limbs of a hockey player improve their range and mobility, the player will naturally be able to perform at a higher rate on the ice. For example, increased range in ankle and calf muscles will lead to more explosiveness and overall faster skating.
It’s easy to forget that hockey players perform turns, crossovers and pivots all while standing on two pieces of steel 5 millimetres in width. Standing postures in the yoga studio help strengthen the athlete’s centre of gravity as well as the lower joints - ankles, knees and hips. Increased balance in the yoga studio means increased balance on skates.
(FLEXIBILITY + BALANCE)
Every skill a hockey player performs starts from the core. Hip, abdominal, chest and shoulder muscles are the roots of a players main weapons (the arms and legs), not to mention the all-important back muscles. Too many hockey players train just their chests and their legs - building core strength balances all the muscles.
For hockey players, being conscious about their bodies, their emotional state and their physical surroundings helps them eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand. This is a tough task in an age of constant stimuli. Concentrating on routine manoeuvres like downward dog, shooting or skating makes complex situations easier to handle.
Breath-in postures in yoga also create spacial and mental awareness, which transfers seamlessly to the sequential nature of hockey (45 seconds on, 3 minutes off, repeat).
(DETERMINATION + DISCIPLINE)
Just committing to a non-traditional training method such as yoga requires a degree of dedication. Improved flexibility, balance, strength & focus - all these elements are maximized through dedication. Dedication is essential to yoga in multiple ways:
- holding poses
- trying something new
- ticking with something even when it gets tough
Yoga helps reinforce positive values in hockey players they may not get from traditional on or off-ice training methods. We all want to be more dedicated - the natural exertion of yoga demonstrates the power we hold within our bodies as well as our minds.
- pivoting at the blue line
- taking a pass
- crossing-over backwards
- looking up
- iring a seeing-eye wrist-shot through traffic
This sequence is measured in two metrics yoga can help develop:
- Elapsed time: imagine the pressure and awareness involved if this situation occurred with 2 seconds left in game seven of a playoff game.
- Spacial awareness: between the blue line and 4 feet inside the blue line - don’t go offside!
The strength and stamina required to perform this sequence without being checked is massive and directly relates to the strength and stamina of your surroundings; your teammates, your opponents and the situation you're faced with.