Revolution Conditioning Training Tips
The right kicks for off-ice hockey training
Regular InGoal Columnist Maria Mountain is an expert trainer of hockey players, including Stanley Cup Champions. Learn more about working with her at www.hockeytrainingpro.com
What is your criteria for choosing your off-ice training footwear? Colour? Number of cushie air pillows that are visible? Whatever shoes Sidney is wearing?
When I started my job as the head coach at a big sport conditioning franchise many years ago, I was pretty pumped and I thought I would treat myself by getting a pair of the fanciest shoes with shock absorbers I could find. Remember those – they had something like four shock absorbers at the heel and they were super comfortable to wear around the gym. Mine were flashy too – black, red and silver! I loved them–for coaching. They were comfortable to have on my feet for 16-hours per day in the gym and I could demonstrate and teach all of the exercises comfortably in them.
When it came time for me to actually work out or do agility drills at full speed, I found that the height of the heel combined with the softness of the shock absorbers would let my foot roll a little bit when I did lateral cutting movements or lateral stops. Not cool. What was worse, I had parents come up to me on a weekly basis to show me how they had gone out and spent their hard earned money buying Junior the exact same shoes I had!
So I stopped wearing the shoes that were just plain comfortable (and looked cool) in the gym and started wearing only shoes that I thought were safe and effective training shoes. When you head out to the sports store the next time you purchase new off-ice training shoes for hockey here are a few things to consider:
- Is the shoe designed for distance running or lateral movement/cross training? A typical running shoe is designed for running long distances in more or less a straight line. There is no lateral cutting stability and the heel is built up with cushioning to reduce the impact on the joints. That high heel and lack of lateral stability can leave a player vulnerable to ankle injuries when doing agility drills. In addition the soles are designed for straight ahead movements, so players will lose their footing when performing cutting movements on grass.
- Look for a shoe with a low centre of gravity, you want your heel sitting close to the ground level.
- I love the feel of shoes that have a Velcro strap across the forefoot – I feel that it keeps the shoe from twisting on my forefoot when I perform cutting motions.
- Look for a good multidirectional pattern on the sole which will give you good traction while training indoors and outdoors.
Here are a few brands and models that I really like: Nike Free Trainers, the Under Armour multi-directional trainers like the Nitric Trainer (not the speed ones) and I think New Balance consistently puts out great cross trainers like the MX840BK (I know New Balance needs to come up with some fancy names).
Happy shoe shopping!