Now Available: the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual

rebootcover2

Hey gang,

After much work, the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual is now available for purchase.

This is my first attempt at self-publishing, so go easy on me.

For the initial run, I am asking $11 for a digital copy. After payment, I will e-mail you a copy of the book as a PDF. You will also receive a password which will unlock the file. You can then save and print the Manual as you wish. In the coming days, I will automate this process so that you can  download the book immediately.

The Manual checks in right now at 241 pages, and believe it or not, this is a very condensed edition of the book. The Manual will only get longer as new information and products become available. Your purchase of the Manual entitles you to all future editions, even if I later opt to increase the price of the Manual.

If you want to purchase the book with no additional soft-selling, here are the purchase links:


Buy Now Button

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=72VQZMPZCVF8A

If you need a little persuading, here are some of the topics that the Manual covers:

  • Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0
  • How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates
  • 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide
  • Diet, Supplement, and Training Recommendations
  • Considerations for Flat Feet
  • Technical Points on Hockey Skating

As a bonus, I am also including full Diet and Training Programs, upon request and after a liability waiver is completed. If I was including nothing more with the book, I think a personalized Diet/Training Program completed after consultation via e-mail makes the book a high-value purchase, but I’ve included plenty with the purchase.

I’ve created an e-mail specifically for those who purchase the Manual: RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you have any questions about the content within the book, or would like my help in designing a Diet/Training programs specifically suited to you, I am at your service. I will answer questions and help with Program Design as quickly and thoroughly as sales dictate and time permits.

But let’s assume you have your Diet and Training in order, and only care about the Hockey-specific content. Here is an overview of the content provided in the 1st edition of the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual:

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 is a re-written guide to selecting the Hockey Stick that will help you get the most from your game. Almost anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Hockey Sticks – History, Marketing, Performance, Pricing, Technical Detail – is included within the section.

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 covers all the Retail Blade Patterns available as of April 2016, and can greatly help in future purchasing decisions. This section will help readers of all experience levels better understand the core principles of shooting and stick-handling, and in turn guide them toward the equipment products that will maximize their play.

The current version of Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick checks in at 78 pages, and I will continually update the section as new products and information become available.

The 55-page section on How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates will help you get the most from your current pair of skates, and help you build some preferences for when you decide to purchase your next pair.

To that end, at the request of my editors I’ve included a 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide, which I believe will help you make a strong purchasing decision. This section contains the most-current information available as of April 14, 2016, the first day I made the Manual available. I will also update this section as new products are released so that Reboot Hockey readers have the most up-to-date information at their disposal.

Between those three sections, I can guarantee that I will save you $11 when you opt to purchase your next stick or pair of skates. As someone who’s been through dozens of Hockey Sticks and 20 pairs of Hockey Skates in recent memory, I implore you to learn from my purchasing mistakes, almost all of which I’ve detailed within the Manual.

If that’s not enough, I’ve included sections on the Anatomy of a Hockey Skate and Technical Points on Hockey Skating that can benefit players of all experience levels. If you are new to the game and looking for an in-depth explanation on the way Hockey Skates are constructed, I believe this will suit you well. If you are an experienced player looking to learn more about the game, I believe I’ve included enough insight within these sections that they will still prove valuable to your continued development.

My Diet and Training Recommendations are exhaustive and exhausting. My education and passion is Exercise and Health Science, so if you have any interest in either topic, I assure you that the Manual will give you your money’s worth. But if for some reason you find the Manual light on Diet/Training information, a few e-mail exchanges with me will fix that in a hurry.

If you purchase the book, read it, and find that it’s not what you were looking for, again e-mail me (RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com) to help me understand ways in which I can improve the book for future editions. Right now, I am offering a conditional full refund for people who purchase the book and don’t find it helpful, with the condition being that they help me improve future editions of the book with constructive, courteous feedback.

Because this is the first edition and because I’m only promoting the book via the blog and the Reboot Hockey Facebook page at the moment, I am not going to go overboard on a Jordan Belfort-level hard-sell. Reboot Hockey readers know the quality and type of content Mark and I produce, and you’re going to have to trust that I wrote the hell out of this thing. Again, if you buy it and hate it, I’ll probably give you a full refund as long as you aren’t a huge jerk to me.

The people who have supported Reboot Hockey have by far and large been considerate and shown great passion for the game. In response, I have tried to cram as much value as absolutely possible into the first edition of the Manual, and I am sincere in my offer to provide as much support to purchasers as I can.

I will continue to provide plenty of free content via the Reboot Hockey blog in the form of Honest Hockey Reviews and interviews with equipment manufacturers. But in order for me to continue devoting time to creating free content, I have to charge something for some of my lengthier content. I believe I have kept the price for the Manual reasonable, and I hope that after reading you find the Manual to be a great investment.

Thanks again for supporting Reboot Hockey, and best wishes in your continued progress as a Hockey Player.

Jack

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Now Available: the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual

 

rebootcover2

Hey gang,

After much work, the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual is now available for purchase.

This is my first attempt at self-publishing, so go easy on me.

For the initial run, I am asking $11 for a digital copy. After payment, I will e-mail you a copy of the book as a PDF. You will also receive a password which will unlock the file. You can then save and print the Manual as you wish. In the coming days, I will automate this process so that you can download the book immediately.

The Manual checks in right now at 241 pages, and believe it or not, this is a very condensed edition of the book. The Manual will only get longer as new information and products become available. Your purchase of the Manual entitles you to all future editions, even if I later opt to increase the price of the Manual.

If you want to purchase the book with no additional soft-selling, here are the purchase links:


Buy Now Button

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=72VQZMPZCVF8A

If you need a little persuading, here are some of the topics that the Manual covers:

  • Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0
  • How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates
  • 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide
  • Diet, Supplement, and Training Recommendations
  • Considerations for Flat Feet
  • Technical Points on Hockey Skating

As a bonus, I am also including full Diet and Training Programs, upon request and after a liability waiver is completed. If I was including nothing more with the book, I think a personalized Diet/Training Program completed after consultation via e-mail makes the book a high-value purchase, but I’ve included plenty with the purchase.

I’ve created an e-mail specifically for those who purchase the Manual: RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you have any questions about the content within the book, or would like my help in designing a Diet/Training programs specifically suited to you, I am at your service. I will answer questions and help with Program Design as quickly and thoroughly as sales dictate and time permits.

But let’s assume you have your Diet and Training in order, and only care about the Hockey-specific content. Here is an overview of the content provided in the 1st edition of the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual:

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 is a re-written guide to selecting the Hockey Stick that will help you get the most from your game. Almost anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Hockey Sticks – History, Marketing, Performance, Pricing, Technical Detail – is included within the section.

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 covers all the Retail Blade Patterns available as of April 2016, and can greatly help in future purchasing decisions. This section will help readers of all experience levels better understand the core principles of shooting and stick-handling, and in turn guide them toward the equipment products that will maximize their play.

The current version of Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick checks in at 78 pages, and I will continually update the section as new products and information become available.

The 55-page section on How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates will help you get the most from your current pair of skates, and help you build some preferences for when you decide to purchase your next pair.

To that end, at the request of my editors I’ve included a 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide, which I believe will help you make a strong purchasing decision. This section contains the most-current information available as of April 14, 2016, the first day I made the Manual available. I will also update this section as new products are released so that Reboot Hockey readers have the most up-to-date information at their disposal.

Between those three sections, I can guarantee that I will save you $11 when you opt to purchase your next stick or pair of skates. As someone who’s been through dozens of Hockey Sticks and 20 pairs of Hockey Skates in recent memory, I implore you to learn from my purchasing mistakes, almost all of which I’ve detailed within the Manual.

If that’s not enough, I’ve included sections on the Anatomy of a Hockey Skate and Technical Points on Hockey Skating that can benefit players of all experience levels. If you are new to the game and looking for an in-depth explanation on the way Hockey Skates are constructed, I believe this will suit you well. If you are an experienced player looking to learn more about the game, I believe I’ve included enough insight within these sections that they will still prove valuable to your continued development.

My Diet and Training Recommendations are exhaustive and exhausting. My education and passion is Exercise and Health Science, so if you have any interest in either topic, I assure you that the Manual will give you your money’s worth. But if for some reason you find the Manual light on Diet/Training information, a few e-mail exchanges with me will fix that in a hurry.

If you purchase the book, read it, and find that it’s not what you were looking for, again e-mail me (RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com) to help me understand ways in which I can improve the book for future editions. Right now, I am offering a conditional full refund for people who purchase the book and don’t find it helpful, with the condition being that they help me improve future editions of the book with constructive, courteous feedback.

Because this is the first edition and because I’m only promoting the book via the blog and the Reboot Hockey Facebook page at the moment, I am not going to go overboard on a Jordan Belfort-level hard-sell. Reboot Hockey readers know the quality and type of content Mark and I produce, and you’re going to have to trust that I wrote the hell out of this thing. Again, if you buy it and hate it, I’ll probably give you a full refund as long as you aren’t a huge jerk to me.

The people who have supported Reboot Hockey have by far and large been considerate and shown great passion for the game. In response, I have tried to cram as much value as absolutely possible into the first edition of the Manual, and I am sincere in my offer to provide as much support to purchasers as I can.

I will continue to provide plenty of free content via the Reboot Hockey blog in the form of Honest Hockey Reviews and interviews with equipment manufacturers. But in order for me to continue devoting time to creating free content, I have to charge something for some of my lengthier content. I believe I have kept the price for the Manual reasonable, and I hope that after reading you find the Manual to be a great investment.

Thanks again for supporting Reboot Hockey, and best wishes in your continued progress as a Hockey Player.

Jack

Grapefruit – What are the Health Benefits of Grapefruit?

By Summer Banks on Oct 26, 2017

 

Why is everyone raving about grapefruit? If you’re anything like us you are probably asking, “Are the health claims about grapefruit true?”

Increased consumption of this citrus plant can promote health while helping to decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

This plant, which was the result of breeding pomelos and oranges, is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium.

Curious to learn more about how eating grapefruit can improve your diet?

The following review includes grapefruit facts, nutrition, recipes, and helpful information on grapefruit diets.

Grapefruit Health Benefits

What is Grapefruit?

The grapefruit is the fruit of the subtropical citrus tree. It was created in Barbados when the sweet orange and pomelo were accidentally bred together. [1]
This resulted in the large tangy fruit that grows in grape-like clusters and is now found in grocery stores around the world.

Today, there are multiple varieties of grapefruits, including the patented “ruby red.”

From the vibrant reds of the fruit above to the lighter pink and even white varieties, grapefruit often varies depending on its place of origin.

While popular because of its tangy, bitter flavor, grapefruit includes several valuable nutritious properties.

It is an abundant source of vitamin C, offers the healing antioxidant lycopene, and includes small doses of other important vitamins while remaining nearly fat-free.

For this reason, researchers have delved into the world of grapefruit to look for antidotes for everything from cancer to obesity.

What Does Grapefruit Do?

Grapefruits are an all-natural source of important vitamins and minerals.

From its high concentration of vitamin C to over 500 different types of phytochemicals, grapefruit helps improve bodily functions, support healthy skin, and help improve various diseases.

Grapefruit is also known as a popular weight loss aid.

According to a study, obese adults who consumed grapefruit regularly in addition to a low-calorie diet lost more weight than those who did not. [2]

Grapefruit Nutrition

Grapefruit Ingredients

Grapefruit is a whole food and therefore, does not have any ingredients. Read along to learn more about the nutritional breakdown of grapefruit.

Grapefruit Nutrition Facts

The following grapefruit nutrition information offers valuable insight into the benefits of this citrus fruit.

Keep in mind, that the nutrition facts for grapefruits vary depending on their size, variety, and even growing conditions.

According to the National Nutrient Database, half of an average-sized grapefruit contains the following nutrients [3]:

  • Vitamin C | 52% of daily value
  • Vitamin A | 23%
  • Carbohydrates | 8 grams
  • Fiber | 1 gram
  • Calcium | 2% of DV
  • Magnesium | 2% of DV

Grapefruit calories vary between red, white, and pink varieties. One serving of red grapefruit has around:

  • 52 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of sodium

In addition to being a low-calorie, vitamin-rich food, it also boats important phytochemicals and antioxidants, such as lycopene and limonoids.

Grapefruit Juice Nutrition

When it comes to grapefruit juice nutrition, statistics vary between brand, type, and style. The following nutrition facts are for one cup or 247 grams of raw pink grapefruit juice.

One cup has a total of 96 calories, two of which are from fat.

It also contains eight percent carbohydrates and features one gram of protein. It also includes the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A | 22% of daily value
  • Vitamin C | 156% of DV
  • Calcium | 2% of DV
  • Iron | 3% of DV

Grapefruit juice

Grapefruit Juice Benefits

Citrus juice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and a quick, efficient way to consume grapefruit.

When purchasing the juice be mindful of the manufacturing process, juice content, and, in particular, added sugars.

Since grapefruit is very bitter, many people prefer it to be sweetened, however, when looking for a health drink, refined sugars are hard to justify.

Grapefruit breakfast foods are common, but adding the juice to salad dressing or marinades are a great way to freshen up a boring dish while making it more healthy too.

Grapefruit beer is rising in popularity, starting with Schofferhofer’s Grapefruit beer that is made with a 50/50 blend of Hefenweizen and carbonated juice. While it may not be the healthiest way to up your vitamin C intake, if you’re on a grapefruit kicks this may be a fun thing to try.

If you are looking to expand beyond your typical grapefruit breakfast, grapefruit bitters are a tasty way to get your citrus kick while indulging in a late-night cocktail.

Grapefruit bitters are surprisingly great at suppressing appetite and aiding digestion.

Another great way to reap the benefits of this subtropical plant is with grapefruit essential oil.

Grapefruit essential oil is derived from the peel of the fruit. It can be added to lotions, baths, household cleaners, or laundry detergents to help disinfect, cleanse, aid weight loss, and even reduce depression.

Additional Benefits of Grapefruit

Grapefruit consumption is also associated with an increase in HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Additional research on red grapefruit suggests that the fruit can decrease blood lipids and is beneficial to people suffering from hyperlipidemic issues. [4]

Potassium, lycopene, and choline can help to regulate heart functions and can prevent disease when regularly consumed along with a healthy diet.

Another benefit of grapefruit juice is its ability to rejuvenate skin. This may be due in part to the fact that it consists of 91% water.

What’s left is a nutrient-rich formula that helps protect against environmental and internal impurities. From Vitamin C, which aids in the production of collagen, to vitamin A, which helps the body produce more skin cells, grapefruit is great for skin.

Vitamin C

Grapefruit and Vitamin C

Grapefruit vitamin C content is highly significant. One grapefruit serving has a whopping 44 milligrams of vitamin C.

This is nearly 73 percent of a person’s daily recommended value.

This means a diet of just one grapefruit a day will help you to greatly exceed the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin C is an essential part of our diets. [5]

It limits the damage of free radicals, delays cancer development, reduces the effects of cardiovascular disease, aids digestion, and improves skin aesthetics.

It’s recommended that female adults 19 years of age and older take 75 mg of vitamin C and men of the same age should take 90 mg. For smokers, this allowance is 35 more mg a day.

While vitamin C supplements can be taken, consuming vitamin C through fruits and vegetables is preferred.

This is because these whole foods typically provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can help people meet other daily nutrition goals as well.

Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Does Grapefruit Work?

The grapefruit facts seem to suggest that grapefruit works!

From the rich vitamin and mineral content to the limited amount of calories and fat, grapefruit is a tasty way to get your daily intake of nutrients essential to maintaining some bodily functions.

Studies suggest that grapefruit can reduce heart disease, improve skin health, kick start weight loss, and even prevent cancer.

While this research is ongoing, grapefruit diets are evidently more than just a fad.

Grapefruit benefits many different conditions. Best of all, it is a great diet component for overall health.

While you may opt to add it to your diet to help improve your heart health or shed a few extra pounds, it can also help you to meet your daily vitamin intake goals.

Grapefruit Fat Burner

Looking for a flavorful grapefruit fat burner? Look no further than the fruit itself!

While raw juices, essential oils, and bitters are popular fruit-derived products, peeling or cutting away the fruit from the rind leaves you with a bountiful portion of nutrient-rich wedges ready for consumption.

Grapefruit Side Effects

Grapefruit is a common citrus fruit that is safe when consumed in moderation as food. It is also likely safe to consume as a juice or recipe component.

Always consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding the consumption of a new food.

On the contrary, there has been some research that associates excessive consumption of juice with breast and skin cancer.

A study published in the British Journal of Cancer identified that postmenopausal women who consumed one-quarter or more of grapefruit a day had a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer. [6]

Moreover, research by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Brown University suggests that excessive consumption of grapefruit and orange juice leads to increased rates of melanoma skin cancer. [7]

Grapefruit Medications

Grapefruit and Drugs

Grapefruit also poorly interacts with some medications, including but not limited to:

  • Buspirone
  • Cyclosporine
  • Estrogens
  • Statins

Grapefruit and drugs, in particular, statins, can have potentially lethal results.

Grapefruit and Blood Pressure

One of the most frequent searches associated with this wonder fruit is, “grapefruit blood pressure.”

Many people with high blood pressure are curious how they can consume this heart-healthy fruit to help reduce the effects of heart disease.

If your doctor approves, you can consume grapefruit daily. One serving typically contains around 360mg of potassium.

Potassium helps to lessen the negative effects of sodium and regulate blood pressure by eliminating excess bodily fluids.

According to the American Heart Association, the average adult needs to consume around 4,7000 milligrams of potassium a day. [8]

Grapefruit, along with apricots, cantaloupe, fat-free yogurt, and greens, make up the components of the DASH or dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet. [9]

Grapefruit and Health Benefits

Is There a Grapefruit Alternative?

If you are unable to consume grapefruit, there are a few alternatives.

It comes as no surprise that many types of oranges and pomelos offer many of the same nutritious properties as grapefruit.

According to the popular “Military Diet,” which involves three days of grapefruit-rich dieting, you should never substitute an orange for a grapefruit, as it will have the opposite effect when it comes to weight loss. [10]

According to the official website of the grapefruit diet, you may add ½ a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink it.

Both baking soda and grapefruit are alkaline-rich foods that can help improve the body’s pH levels.

Bitter Orange Weight Loss

Grapefruit vs Orange

Many people assume that all citrus fruits offer the same nutrition. However, a grapefruit vs orange faceoff reveals the truth.

For starts, both fruits contain high percentages of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium, as well as protective polyphenols and phytonutrients.

They are also both extremely low in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and fats. Although if you’re opting to eat as few calories as possible, grapefruit will help you shave off a few dozen.

Furthermore, oranges have more vitamin C than grapefruits. However, they have nowhere near as much vitamin A.

Therefore, if you’re looking come close to meeting your daily requirement for both, grapefruit is the way to go. Of course, if you’re consuming a medication that could poorly interact with your citrus fruit, oranges are a far safer bet.

Grapefruit vs Pomelo

Now let’s consider Grapefruit vs Pomelo. Grapefruit’s large, tangy relative, the pomelo, contains many of the same elements as it.

According to Harvard Medical School, both fruits are guilty of blocking the enzyme called cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4). [11]

This enzyme is important to the liver and intestinal functions. In fact, it is pivotal in breaking down many drugs, including statins, and flushing them out of the bloodstream.

Therefore, for individuals taking statins to help lower cholesterol, blocking this enzyme is not an option.

 

Grapefruit Health Benefits

Grapefruit health food is rising in popularity; there is the fruit itself, juices, bitters, and specialty product. While most offer many of the same vitamins and minerals, the results vary depending on the product and the amount of consumption.

For those looking to lose weight, there is a lot of research that answers the question, “Is grapefruit good for you?”

Studies show it helps people to lose weight, reduce cholesterol, improve skin, keep you hydrated, regulate digestion, and reduce the risk of cancer. [12]

However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to, “is grapefruit good for you?” For many, grapefruit can interact with prescription drugs they are taking and the results can be lethal.

Meanwhile, studies comparing grapefruit and metformin demonstrate that the fruit may be even more effective than the prescription diabetes drug.

One study on grapefruit and metformin showed a 15-17% greater drop in blood glucose levels.

In many cases, grapefruit benefits people. However, take the time to consult with your doctor before incorporating it into your diet.

Grapefruit Benefits

Grapefruit and Weight Loss

Grapefruit and weight loss go hand in hand. In fact, diets, such as the Military Diet have sustained popularity for years.

These diets, which include limited calorie intake, dietary restrictions, and regular consumption of, you guessed it, grapefruit, do help many individuals to lose weight.

However, this may be due in part to the grapefruit’s rich nutritional content and low-calories, rather than an ability to “melt fat.”

The Grapefruit and Egg Diet

The grapefruit and egg diet is yet another grapefruit-rich diet. Made obvious by its name, the egg consists of grapefruit and boiled eggs with a daily allowance of toast and black coffee.

Meanwhile, some variations of the diet allow for additional lean meats and vegetables.

The concept of this diet is to eat a reduced number of calories while consuming protein and nutrient-rich foods. While it may be effective, there are safer, more consistent ways of losing weight.

Grapefruit Detox Smoothie

Grapefruit Diet and the Grapefruit Juice Diet

The grapefruit juice diet consists of drinking a small glass of juice 20 minutes before meals.

A recent study demonstrated that when a group of people did this, they consumed fewer calories and reported being less hungry.

Grapefruit juice benefits include helping to limit your blood insulin and therefore allow your body to store less fat. However, these benefits are only effective when eating a reduced-calorie diet.

If you don’t enjoy juice, grapefruit tea may be a valid alternative. Grapefruit tea can be made with a slice of grapefruit or even a sprig of the rind.

Add it to boiling water and your choice of spices to create an invigorating citrus-inspired drink.

According to the Grapefruit Diet, the following list of foods are considered compliments to a grapefruit rich diet:

  • Grapefruits
  • Black Coffee
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Meat
  • Green and Red Vegetables

Grapefruit and the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that helps reduce the risk of seizures and also promotes weight loss.

If you love fruit and struggle to fit it into your keto diet, have no fear. Just Google “grapefruit keto diet” and you will discover that grapefruit, unlike oranges, is a low carb fruit.

In fact, one half of a pink or red grapefruit accounts for only 8.1 grams of carbs.

Ketogenic and low-carbohydrate dieting has an array of health benefits. You can read about additional benefits of low-carbohydrate versus low-fat dieting at this link.

Benefits of Grapefruit

 

Grapefruit and Naringin

Naringin is a citrus flavanoid. Within the body, flavanoids are known to produce a diverse number of effects, and are known for their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect (10). One example of the benefits of citrus flavanoids comes from a study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition (11):

Body weight gain, fat accumulation, and the development of hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance were significantly suppressed by lemon polyphenols in mice fed a high-fat diet.

Naringin is somewhat unique to grapefruit, and while Naringin has only been shown to have a very minor impact on Insulin Sensitivity and Fat Metabolism, Naringin is becoming known as a potent way to prolong the effects of caffeine. There remains some debate within the scientific community as to the effect of Naringin on caffeine, but the findings are interesting.

Here is a summary of the findings from a study on caffeine and Naringin conducted by the American Physiological Institute:

Methodology: Caffeine-naive subjects were studied before and after the ingestion of caffeine (C, 200mg) with and without Naringin (100mg or 200mg). Data was collected for 8 hours every half-hour. Parameters measured included resting metabolic rate, heart rate, blood pressure, blood levels of caffeine.

Results: The consumption of caffeine significantly increased resting metabolic rate or calories burned at rest. However, the addition of naringin did not further enhance energy expenditure. Furthermore, blood levels of caffeine were not influenced by the co-consumption of naringin.

Conclusions: Their findings suggest that naringin, when taken in conjunction with caffeine, does not significantly alter caffeine metabolism.

However, while Naringin did not directly up-regulate metabolic rate or alter caffeine metabolism, the same study concluded that consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice may also extend caffeine levels and effects of caffeine. Naringin, when consumed with caffeine, appears to extend your buzz a few hours longer than caffeine consumed alone.

Moreover, the study (12) had additional findings. Flavanoids slowed the metabolism of a numbers of hormones and medications by reducing enzymatic activity in the intestines, slowing the breakdown of certain drugs and resulting in higher blood levels of the drug.

A number of drugs that are known to be affected by the naringin in grapefruit include calcium channel blockers, estrogen, sedatives, medications for high blood pressure, allergies, AIDS, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Directly from the study:

While the effect of naringin on the metabolism of a drug can increase the drug’s effectiveness, it can also result in dosages that are inadvertently too high. Therefore, many physicians do not recommend that patients take any drugs with grapefruit juice unless the interaction with the drug is known. In addition, the effects of drinking grapefruit juice is cumulative, which means that if you drank a glass of grapefruit juice daily with your medication for a week, the drug interaction would be stronger at the end of the week than at the beginning.

It is apparent that Naringin extends the metabolic life of many drugs and substances. If you are taking prescription medication, carefully consider the amount of grapefruit you consume in conjunction with your medication schedule. As always, consult with your doctor.

The Bottom Line on Grapefruit

Grapefruit is an extremely versatile citrus fruit. It can be consumed to help aid weight loss, reduce lipids, decrease the risk of cancer, and decrease the risk of stroke, However, like all foods, it should be eaten in moderation. However, for people taking statins or other prescription drugs, grapefruit should be avoided.

Article Resources

Will Going Slow Help You Grow?

In Strength Training, Tempo refers to the speed at which an exercise is performed. Many Strength Training movements have a Concentric (lifting), Eccentric (lowering), and Isometric (pausing) component. In a Barbell Shoulder Press, for example, the Concentric phase is the pressing of the bar overhead, while the Eccentric phase would be the lowering of the bar back to the start position. Per recognized Strength Coach Charles Poliquin (http://main.poliquingroup.com/), the Eccentric phase occurs when a muscle contracts while lengthening. Meanwhile, the Concentric phase occurs as a muscle contracts and shortened.

Tempo and Time Under Tension (TUT)

Recent studies have shown that a very deliberate Tempo might induce growth in stubborn muscles. One such study (1) reported that the leg extension exercise executed at 30% of maximum effort (a relatively light load) with a slow lifting movement (six seconds up and six seconds down) performed to fatigue produces greater increases in rates of muscle protein synthesis than the same movement performed rapidly (one second up and one second down). These results suggest that the time the muscle is under tension (also known as TUT) during exercise may be important in optimizing muscle growth.

Understanding that Time Under Tension (TUT) is directly tied to muscle protein synthesis can help a trainee build up an injured, weak, or underdeveloped muscle group, or help prevent the muscle loss that naturally occurs with aging. Using a Slow Tempo has been shown to be a viable alternative to increasing Intensity when adding more repetitions or weight is impractical.

Training with an exaggerated Tempo has been repeatedly shown to be effective in the rehabilitation of injuries. Askling et al (2) conducted one such study in which the group directly compared a protocol of conventional exercises with a protocol based on Eccentric exercises. The group found that Eccentric Training with a deliberate Tempo was very effective compared to conventional training that disregards Tempo.

Tempo Training has a lot of applications, one of which is to correct a dysfunctional firing pattern with a muscle group. For example, if your Glutes are stubborn to fire, the use of lighter weight and a deliberate Tempo can be very useful in getting them to activate.

Muscular Imbalances

The human body is geared for efficiency, and what tends to happen is that different muscle groups will compensate for weak or inactive synergistic muscles in given movements. Basically, your body will find the path of lease resistance in jumping, running, throwing, etc. If three of your muscles are doing work intended for four of your muscles, it’s only a matter of time until you incur an overuse injury. When one muscle group is doing a disproportionate amount of work, the condition is referred to as a Muscular Imbalance.

Here’s a visual of some common Muscular Imbalances, per Janda (3):

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A very common Muscular Imbalance, as seen above, is Inhibited Glutes combined with Facilitated/overused Iliopsoas. The Psoas will be discussed at length in a future article, but the takeaway is that the Psoas becomes chronically overworked, short, and tight while the Glutes become lax and weak from disuse. Aside from robbing someone of athletic performance, this condition also sets someone up for pain and eventually injury.

If your Gluteal muscles are inhibited or inactive, an undue burden will be placed on smaller or mechanically inefficient muscle groups in the surrounding area, such as the Hip Flexors or the Psoas. As you fatigue these smaller or alternate muscle groups, the burden will then be placed on the accompanying joints. The reason there is such a strong correlation between non-contact ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries and Glute Inhibition is because inactive glutes force a tremendous mechanical burden onto the quadriceps and the ligaments surrounding the knees.

In a study geared toward limiting the risk factors for ACL injuries in soccer players (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00167-009-0813-1), Valgus Collapse, a poor Hamstring-to-Quadriceps Strength Ratio, and increased hip internal rotation and tibial external rotation (with or without foot pronation) were among the main risk factors cited. All three of these conditions correlate very strongly with inhibited and weak Gluteus Maximus muscles. While an ACL injury is devastating to an athlete, no one wants an injury with a 4-8 month recovery timetable.

So regardless of your fitness goal, it would be in your best interest to make sure all of your muscles are firing properly. The catch is that your bigger, stronger, well-conditioned muscles will be apt to take over during movements, particularly as the intensity level increases. This is where advanced training techniques such as alterations to Tempo can help a trainee progress or rehab a nagging injury.

Get to Know Your Body: the Gluteus Medius and the Brachialis

Two particularly stubborn muscles that deserve special consideration in regard to Tempo are the Gluteus Medius and the Brachialis. Both of these muscle groups are critical to good form and function, and might be better stimulated by Strength Training or Rehabilitation exercises done with a very deliberate Tempo.

First consider the Gluteus Medius (also referred to as the Glute Medius), which is a small, thick muscle that rotates and stabilizes the hip:

Image result for gluteus medius

As a test, close your eyes and stand on one leg. Did you start to wobble? If so, the strength of your Gluteus Medius might not be up to par.

Here is a list of Strength Training and Rehabilitation exercises that are used to target the Gluteus Medius:

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These are all very effective exercises, if done properly. The problem is that most people tend to use incorrect muscles to complete the movements, and the result is at best ineffectiveness and time wasted. At worst, the consequence can be pain or injury. In the case of Hip-Hinge movements like the Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (pictured above), the lower back most often takes the brunt of the punishment if one or more of the Gluteal muscles aren’t firing properly.

You may be wondering, “how does someone target an under-active muscle such as the Gluteus Medius if the bigger muscle groups are apt to take over?”

There is a saying within the Fitness Community, “Isolate to Integrate”. This means that if a muscle is slow to fire or stubborn the grow, the best course of action is to work the muscle in Isolation, meaning as part of a single-joint movement.

A main way to work the Gluteus Medius in Isolation is Lateral Hip Abduction. The most basic way to do this is with a Side Lying Leg Raise:

Image result for lateral lying hip abduction

There are a number of ways in which you can tweak this movement to make it more effective, one of which is to emphasize the Eccentric/Lowering component. You can learn more about the benefits of Lateral Hip Abduction in this video.

Once you have located the Glute Medius, it may humble you to realize how weak or under-trained these muscles tend to be. Many trainees, even advanced weight-lifters and Powerlifters, will tell you their Glute Medius feels like it’s on fire after a bodyweight set of 30-40 Lying Side Leg Lifts. It’s certainly not a “macho” movement, and even when a person can squat or deadlift hundreds of pounds, the Glute Medius muscles remain woefully underdeveloped.

The Brookbush Institute, a physical therapy practice and online education forum, has an extremely comprehensive program for activating the Gluteus Medius available for free here. The trick is to train the Glute Medius muscles in isolation, and until a trainee becomes comfortable utilizing it, a very deliberate Tempo is likely in order.

Again per Charles Poliquin, while a deliberate Eccentric Tempo of four seconds or more may not induce growth in Type IIA and Type IIB muscle fibers (40 percent growth versus 10 percent growth), exaggerated Eccentric Tempos of four seconds or more still provided significant stimulus to the targeted muscle. As Poliquin notes, “Slower Tempos with lighter weights are a staple of programming when recovering from an injury to increase blood flow to the injured area, gain strength, and focus on getting the muscles to fire effectively”. (4)

Utilizing basic bodyweight movements such as Clamshells or Side Lying Leg Raises, under deliberate lifting/lowering Tempos of four or more seconds, would seem to be an excellent way to get a stubborn or inactive muscle group to fire properly.

Once you have located and gained a bit of strength in your Glute Medius muscles, it may astound you to see the gains you immediately make in muscular endurance or strength during lower-body movements. The Glute Medius is incredibly powerful in its ability to potentiate and stabilize the lower leg and in particular the Gluteus Maximus – likely the biggest, strongest muscle group in the body.

Even if you don’t have immediate athletic or physique goals, strong and functional glutes are potentially the number one way to alleviate lower back pain. Per the American Council on Exercise, “The Gluteus Maximus works to decelerate flexion of your hips to help counteract the downward pull of gravity and prevent your lumbar spine from over-rounding forward. If your Glutes are not strong enough to fully engage when your hips bend backward, your spine must round forward excessively to lower your arms to the ground”. (5, Price, J. and Bratcher, M. (2010). The BioMechanics Method Corrective Exercise Educational Program. San Diego, Calif.: The BioMechanics Press).

Forward Flexion is just one of the many roles the Glutes undertake, and inhibited or non-firing Glutes have an almost complete correlation with lower-back pain (6, McGill, S. (2002). Low Back Disorders: Evidence Based Prevention and Rehabilitation. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics). So even if you’re not an active or aspiring athlete, getting your Glutes – and especially the mousy Glute Medius – to fire properly will go a long way toward preventing or resolving lower-back pain.

Another underappreciated muscle is the Brachialis, which serves as the strongest flexor of the elbow joint and comprises a sizable portion of the upper arm (https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/brachialis-muscle):

Image result for brachialis

While the Brachialis serves tremendous function within the body as the primary elbow flexor and strongest grip muscle, it also has great aesthetic value for the fitness-minded:

Image result for brachialis female

Image result for brachialis fitness

When seen from the side, the Brachialis adds depth to the upper arm, and separates the Biceps brachii from the Triceps. While the Brachialis provides both form and function, it can be a difficult muscle to target in training. This is another instance in which a Slow Tempo might aid a trainee with their performance or physique goals, or help someone rehab achy elbows.

The Dumbbell Hammer Curl is the most basic, effective way to train the Brachialis:

Related image

The issue is that many people already have sore elbows or forearm flexors because the Brachialis is underworked or inhibited. This is where physical therapy-style training with a Slow Tempo and an exaggerated Eccentric has great value.

As recommended in the Leg Extension study noted above, a training recommendation would be to use about 30% of a one-repetition maximum with a very deliberate Eccentric of six seconds or more to mechanical failure.

While the Dumbbell Hammer Curl has stood the test of time as an effective way to train the Brachialis, there are other exercises that effectively target the Brachialis, such as the Reverse-Grip Straight Bar Curl, Cross-Body Hammer Curl, and the Neutral-Palm Rope Curl. The key is to find an exercise that you can feel working the targeted muscle, and a modality and weight that allows you to move painlessly.

How Slow Should You Go?

Assuming you want to give Eccentric or Deliberate Tempo Training a try, the next question becomes, “How Slow Should You Go?” in order to see optimal results.

Arthur Jones, an exercise scientist behind the famed Colorado Experiment, once recommended a Strength Training Tempo with a two-second Concentric phase and a four-second Eccentric or Negative phase. The goal of the Colorado Experiment was to see how much muscle mass an individual could potentially accumulate, and Jones used a bodybuilder named Casey Viator as his lab rat. Viator reportedly gained 63 pounds of muscle mass in 28 days, and Jones used a number of high-intensity training techniques such as eight-second Eccentrics and non-existent rest periods between exercises. The results of the Colorado Experiment, which was conducted in 1973, have never been duplicated. However, Arthur Jones’ use of Nautilus machines and Eccentric/Negative Training are Strength Training modalities that continue to be heavily relied upon over 40 years later.

Burd et al (6) recommended Eccentric and Concentric Phases of six seconds each at 30% of one-repetition maximum. Charles Poliquin recommneded Eccentrics of 4-6 seconds, depending on the intensity, the movement, and the health of the trainee. Ultimately, some trial-and-error will be involved depending on the trainee and the muscle group, but Tempo guidelines including Eccentric/lowering phases of four seconds or more have been repeatedly shown to be effective in activating weak or inhibited muscles.

Final Considerations

Dietary considerations are always a factor in muscle protein synthesis and injury recovery. Ketogenic Diets are gaining a lot of traction as being effective in promoting increased insulin sensivity, and thus muscle protein synthesis and optimal health. You can read about Ketogenic Diets and other dietary information at Dietspotlight.com.

Tempo and Time Under Tension are not the sole factors in muscle growth, but their importance is very well-established. If you are seeking to improve a lagging muscle group, expedite the healing of a muscle injury, or activate an underused muscle group, research suggests that Tempo Training is an ideal modality.

Shawn Farrell is a Diet Spotlight contributing writer. He has a B.S. in Exercise Science and has 15+ years of training experience. Concerns and questions can be forwarded to sfarrell11@outlook.com.

Fall 2017 Off-Ice Hockey Training Program

A reader purchased the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual, and one of the things I include with the Manual is a personalized training program.

While the Manual contains plenty of diet and exercise recommendations, it’s been a few months since I’ve offered up a program with specifics. This is the program I created specifically for one reader, but I’m sharing it with the Reboot Hockey community in case anyone else is looking for a new program.

Questions can come to me at RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com.

These were the details I was given by the reader/trainee:

  • Trainee has recently implemented Negatives in an attempt to build strength. A Negative is an exercise done with an emphasis on the Eccentric or lowering component of the movement. In a Squat, for example, the Concentric component would be rising with the weight, while the Eccentric/Negative component would be lowering your body under control.
  • Trainee has used Bodyweight Isometrics such as Wall-Sits and Planks to build Muscular Endurance
  • Trainee has used a number of Lunge variations to build leg strength.
  • Trainee has opted for a fat-controlled, carbohydrate-heavy diet.

Program Recommendations

Diet

I’ve advocated and utilized lower-carbohydrate or even Ketogenic diets successfully, but I understand that approach isn’t for everyone. You can read about low-carb dieting here. If you wish to follow a carbohydrate-heavy diet, these are my recommendations:

  • Separate carbohydrate and dietary fat during meals, having meals with carbohydrates/protein or dietary fat/protein. The science behind this approach, which enhances Nutrient Partitioning, is well-covered here by Dr. John Berardi.
  • Dr. Berardi generally recommends less than 10g carbs or 5g fat during a fat/protein and carb/protein meal, respectively. A fat/protein meal might be steak/green vegetables with olive oil, while a carb/protein meal might be chicken/rice with very low dietary fat.
  • Rough protein recommendation is 1g/lb. of bodyweight. To convert to kilograms, multiply bodyweight in Kg x 2.2 for protein intake or divide bodyweight by 2.2.
  • Consider removing dairy from your diet. Pay close attention to how you feel after consuming dairy. It’s very possible to implement a higher-carbohydrate/lower-fat Paleo (no grains/dairy/refined sugar) approach under indicated parameters.
  • I always recommend trainees and readers look into acid/alkaline balance when considering diet. My favorite Strength Coach Christian Thibaudeau shares his thoughts here. Another take can be read here. Take a few minutes and educate yourself, as the ability to buffer acid has a major impact on both your health and your performance as a Hockey Player.
  • I would challenge anyone following a higher-carbohydrate diet to eliminate gluten and sugar as primary carbohydrate sources. I think rice and potatoes are cleaner sources of complex carbohydrates. and I think sugar is highly inflammatory in most individuals. I do not recommend that you use the insane calorie demands of Hockey to justify a high refined-sugar intake.

Base Strength Training (1-5 Reps Per Set x 3-10 Sets)

The core tenet of a good Strength Training program is gaining strength. This seems obvious, but a lot of trainees adopt bodybuilding-style programs in which they train in Functional or Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy ranges of 6-12 repetitions per set. This is not optimal for maximum strength gains.

I’ve written this before, but bodybuilding-style training has very little applicability in Hockey today. There are some undersized players who would benefit from a program that primarily focused on gaining size, but most players in Hockey today are aiming to be as lean, explosive, and strong as possible. Hockey has become a true Power-to-Weight sport. Most players do not want additional weight that does not come with a commensurate gain in strength.

There are many Rep Schemes to program for Strength. I think 5 x 5 is as effective as anything. Do not confuse simplicity with ineffectiveness. You can opt for one Strength day (maybe Saturday morning), or you can use 1-2 Strength movements per workout. I’ve opted for the latter in this program.

These are my favorite choices specifically for Hockey Players. E-mail me (reboothockeyhelp@gmx.com) if you want the science behind each selection:

Hip Dominant – Trap Bar Deadlift

 

Knee Dominant – Barbell Squat, Heels Elevated

Horizontal Pull – T-Bar Row

Horizontal Push –  Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press, Standard Grip

Vertical Pull – Pull-Ups with added weight

 

Vertical Push – Dips with added weight

Those are my favorite moves for Strength, specifically for Hockey Players. We could debate which are the most effective, but I believe in the big basics done consistently and properly (in tandem with appropriate nutrition).

I’m programing two of these moves into a 3-day per week program at 5 x 5. This can be adjusted based on results/schedule.

Functional Hypertrophy (6-8 Reps x 4-6 Sets)

Strength moves with enough duration to add size. Recommended rep scheme is 6-8 reps x 5 sets. Add weight when you can complete nine reps in a set. Recommended tempo: 4-X-1 (lower the weight to a four-count, then accelerate the weight cleanly with minimal pause at the bottom of the movement).

I’m programming three of these selections per day into a three-day per week program. More volume can obviously be added.

Elevated Reverse Lunge

DB Split Squat – Foot Elevated

Barbell Crossover Step-Ups

(Notes: keep weight reasonable, add box height very gradually, keep toes of plant foot as close to 45 degrees as possible. This exercise should work the Glute Medius if done properly.)

Single-Leg DB or KB Romanian Deadlift

(Note: focus on proper hinge and Glute Activation. I have the best results with a slight knee bend, shortened range of motion, and toes pointing out. Also, I do this as a Hockey Player, not a fitness model, so exercise-science nerds can be quiet about my form recommendations. K thanks.)

Heavy Back Extensions

(Notes: most people do these with bodyweight or 25-45 lb. plates. I didn’t get much value out of this movement until I really ramped up the weight. Don’t hurt yourself, but push the amount of weight you use on this movement. Make sure your glutes fire hard.)

Dumbbell Hammer Curls (Grip Strength)

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

(Note: please pay extra attention to this video. In fact, watch everything by Jeff Cavaliere of Athlean-X. He’s the best.)

Cable Lat Pulldown – Overhand/Pronated or Commando/Neutral Grip

Muscular Endurance/Partials (15-25 Reps or More Per Set)

Hockey Skating is an incredibly-unnatural position. An issue I see among most amateur players is that they lack the muscular endurance to keep themselves in hockey-skating position for extended shifts or deeper into a shift.

A few recommendations for building muscular endurance as a Hockey Player:

  • Keep yourself “between the joints” for a prolonged set of 60-90 seconds on a Squat or Hinge movement. This means don’t lock the movement out at either the top or the bottom so the tension is constantly on the muscles. If you are shooting for reps rather than time, I’d aim for 20-30 reps.
  • You can use the boring/awful cardio machines (elliptical, stepper, etc) if 1) you can get your feet comfortably to 45 degree angles, 2) you utilize “intervals” in which you go unnaturally-low to simulate a Hockey shift. Go low for 40-60 seconds, then come up to recover for 40-60 seconds. Repeat for 20-30 minutes.
  • When doing Plank movements, go more maximum contraction versus time. Pull your abs/belly button hard into your spine for 10-30 seconds. A hard 15-second plank is much more effective than a sloppy two-minute plank.
  • Wall-Sits are effective if 1) the tension is placed on the muscles and not the joints/ligaments, 2) an emphasis is placed on the posterior chain.

I think a better alternative to a Wall-Sit might be a Swiss Ball Curl partial. Elliott Hulse goes nuts for five minutes before explaining SB Curls well. I would consider doing these in the middle third of the range of motion so that the tension constantly remains on the muscles. Do them until your hamstrings/glutes are burning badly. Build up to 60-90 seconds of Time Under Tension.

  • Do other Endurance Movements (such as DB Scarecrows) in the 12-15 or 15-25 repetition range in a lowered position. You should be low enough that your legs start burning halfway through the set. Always remember that you trying to develop your legs so you can skate better. The goal isn’t to win a bodybuilding contest.
  • You should do abdominal movements constantly. Athletes, especially Hockey Players, don’t have “Abs Day” like bodybuilders do. For us, every day is Abs Day. The minimum should include 3-4 sets of Decline Crunches, V-Ups, or Cable Crunches. I’m not going to divert into an article on Abdominal Work, as there’s plenty of good information available online.
  • By the same token, for a Hockey Player, every day is Leg Day. Yes, you have days in which you add weight training, but you should be conditioning your legs daily with bodyweight movements or energy systems work, unless you have a game or practice. This goes double if you have an office job in which you sit a lot.

These aren’t the sort of recommendations you’ll find on a fitness website, but I’m a Hockey Player making training recommendations to other Hockey Players. I know what works to make Hockey players better at Hockey.

Lastly, there is an endgame here, and that’s to improve your skating stability. I hope that you’ve heard the term “10 and 2” to describe the position of your toes in an optimal skating stride. If not, this position is well-demonstrated by decidedly-average NHL Player Sid Crosby.

My view as both a Strength Coach and a Hockey Player is that 10-and-2 is optimal for both agility and power production because it properly incorporates the Glutes and Calves. I think a very common amateur/conditioning mistake is that players stay too high due to poor local muscular endurance, and their hips/feet become too narrow as they fatigue.

More science: there is a very strong correlation between Glute Funciton/Strength and the ability to resist Hip Adduction. Gym-goers have probably seen someone with a great ass doing Banded Squats or X-Band Walks. This is to build up the Glute Medius’ ability to resist Adduction, which in turn potentiates the power potential of the Glute Maximum. Got all that?

All of this concerns you in that these are the exact strengths you want to be an elite Hockey Skater. You need to be able to hold your legs in that awkward bow-legged stance for an extended period of time, and produce power while you do so, in order to be a great skater. The Muscular Endurance recommendations I make are in the interest of accomplishing that.

Your Program

Tuesday

Trap-Bar Deadlift 5 x 5 @ 85-90% 1RM 2-X-1

Weighted Pull-Ups (Supinated Grip) 5 x 5-6 @ Bodyweight + Max Weight 2-X-1

Elevated Reverse Lunge 6-8 x 5 @ 75-80% 1RM

Single-Leg DB RDL 6-8 per leg x 5 @75-80% 1RM 4-X-1

DB Hammer Curl (Standing) 6-8 x 5 – 4-X-1

Empty-Bar Partial Squats 60-90 seconds or max time x 3

X-Band Walks 60-90 seconds or max x 3

Abs – Planks

Thursday

Squats! (Back or Front, Your Choice) 5 x 5 85-90% 1RM 3-X-1

Weighted Dips 5 x 5-8 @ Bodyweight + Max Weight 3-X-1

DB Split Squat 6-8 per leg x 5 @ 75-80% 1RM 4-X-1

DB Shoulder Press (Standing) 6-8 x 5 – 4-X-1

Heavy Back Extensions 6-10 x 5 @ Bodyweight + Max Weight 4-X-1

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl Partials 60-90 seconds x 3

DB Goblet Squat Partials 60-120 seconds x 2-3

Abs – Planks

Saturday

BB Snatch-Grip Deadlift 5 x 5 @ 85-90% 1RM 2-X-1

T-Bar Row 5 x 5 @85-90% 1RM 2-X-1

Bench Press Variation 5 x 5 @ 85-90% 1RM 2-X-1

DB Snatch 6-8 per arm x 5 @ 60-70% 1RM – Controlled Eccentric, Explosive Concentric

Commando Cable Pulldowns 6-8 x 5 @ 75-80% 1RM 4-X-1

Leg Extension Partials 60-90 seconds x 2-3

Leg Curl Partials 60-90 seconds x 2-3

Abs – Planks

I hope this is enough to get you started. If you have questions about any of the exercises, please e-mail me and don’t injure yourself. If you would like help reorganizing this program or have additional questions about Hockey Conditioning, you’re welcome to e-mail me.

Have a great start to your season,

Jack

Tips for Improving Your Slap Shot

Image result for shea weber slapshot(Yeah, I heard about the Weber-Subban trade, but this is still a great photo.)

The two most common questions I get from less-experienced Hockey Players are:

  1. How do I Hockey Stop?
  2. How do I take a Slap Shot?

Today, I’ll briefly tackle the second question. One can debate the merits of the Slap Shot itself within the context of the modern game, but I’ll write under the assumption that you want to develop a decent Slap Shot just to have another arrow in your quiver.

First, let me tell a quick background story:

My favorite player growing up was Jaromir Jagr, and to this day I don’t think I’ve seen him uncork more than five Slap Shots in his lengthy career. Jagr is proof you don’t really need a Slapper to excel in the sport.

Here are a lot of Jagr’s career highlights. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a clip of him blowing a clapper past a goalie. If you type “Jaromir Jagr Slapshot” into Google, you get returns like this:

Image result for jaromir jagr slapshot

What a player. Lots of pics of “Jagr epic flow” and “Jagr mullet”, nary a pic of Jaromir Jagr taking a full Slap Shot.

Anyway, I idolized Jagr growing up and thus felt no need to develop a Slap Shot. He certainly proved you could succeed in the sport without a big Slapper. But during one practice my freshman year of College, my coach insisted that I take a Slap Shot around the boards from just outside the Red Line.

I remember this moment like it was yesterday. Here’s the edited version of how things  went:

Coach D: “FARRELL, TAKE A F__KIN’ SLAPSHOT AROUND THE BOARDS!”

Jack: (Does European escape move, scores goal)

COACH D: “FARRELL, YOU F__K, DUMP THE F__KIN’ PUCK!”

Jack: (takes a hit, makes pass to cutting teammate, teammates scores)

Coach: (incoherent screaming, stick swinging) “F__KIN’ F__K F__K FARRELL F__K!!”

Jack: (Does Peter Forsberg-style QB/area pass to open teammate. Teammate scores.)

Coach D: “F__K! FARRELL, WHY WON’T YOU F__KIN’ TAKE A F__KIN’ SLAP SHOT LIKE I F__KIN’ ASKED???”

Coach D and I proceeded to have a brief, profanity-laced discussion about why I felt (and continue to feel) that dumping the puck is akin to a football player tossing the ball to the other team, while Coach D screamed at me hysterically about my unwillingness to cover the points or return his phone calls (don’t ask).

Anyway, my college coach insisted that I develop a Slap Shot, or he wasn’t going to play me. So I worked to develop a Slap Shot.

My Slap Shot has gotten respectable over the years, though I still only use it once in a blue moon during games. As I wrote at the top of the article, we can debate the Full Slap Shot’s usefulness within the context of today’s game, but Adult Leaguers and amateur coaches everywhere seem fascinated with mastering it.

Before I get into it, I’m going to repeat the philosophy of the skills coach I had growing up:

The Slap Shot is the lowest-percentage shot a player can take most of the time. Unless it’s through a screen, Goaltenders often have plenty of time to square up to the shooter, and even with some pace on the puck, it’s an easy save for them. I don’t remember the exact statistic, but I think a player is about six times more likely to score on a backhand than a Slap Shot. And as a player moves up in the competitive ranks, there are less opportunities for most players to use Full Slap Shots within the context of a game. Between the speed of the game and the willingness of today’s players to block shots, there just isn’t much time or space anymore, even at the lower levels of the game.

So please keep that in mind as you read this article. The Slap Shot can be an effective offensive tool, but one that should be used sparingly.

Because I built my shot from scratch later in life, I’ve got a good memory of how I did it. Here are some things you should consider as you look to develop a Slap Shot:

Considerations

  • Adequate Starting Strength

I am a huge proponent of Strength Training as a tool to improve athletic performance. All of the other tips below are useless if you don’t have adequate strength/power relative to the puck.

I’ve worked with a number of 115 lb. players who barely generate enough force to lift the puck on a Wrist Shot, let alone a shot as dynamic as a Full Slap Shot. All of the technique in the world doesn’t matter if the player lacks adequate Relative Strength.

The Slap Shot is largely technical, but it’s also a dynamic athletic movement. The athlete needs to be able to generate some power. It’s silly to work on a Full Slap Shot if you lack the strength to put any pace on a Wrist Shot or Snap Shot.

The use of training tools like weighted pucks will help, but if you really care about adding a Slap Shot to your arsenal, you probably need to get stronger overall. Strength Training, in combination with a diet that supports it, is the most direct and effective way to gain strength.

I beat this point into the ground in the Manual and elsewhere, but Relative Strength is the biggest competitive advantage an athlete can give her or himself. This goes in tandem with an anabolic, muscle-building diet. If you need help getting started with either, you’re welcome to e-mail me at reboothockeyhelp@gmx.com.

  • Ability to Skate

Improving your skating will improve all other aspects of your game, including shooting. Everything gets easier as you learn to skate better. You don’t “leak” as much energy throughout your kinetic chain, and this leads to more efficiency and ultimately more power. Aside from improving your raw strength, improving your skating is probably the most effective, rapid way to improve your Slap Shot.

  • Ability to Flex Stick

Related image

Alex Ovechkin, 240-lb. bear of a man, uses some ridiculously-low Stick Flex (around 80 Flex) to blast pucks past goaltenders. He also goes through 4-6 sticks or more per game like clockwork, an advantage not shared by the average adult league player.

Ovi brought a ton of attention to the role of Stick Flex within the context of Slap Shooting. He absolutely maximizes Shot Power by combining his burly physique with a disproportionately-light Stick Flex. But you could give Ovi a 120 Flex stick, and his Slap Shot would still be world-class.

As for you, the Stick Flex needs to be light enough that you can flex it easily. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to flex a stick 1″ with almost no effort. As far as equipment factors go, insuring you can adequately flex your hockey stick is probably top priority in developing a Slap Shot.

Now, it’s also possible for a Stick Flex to be too light, and thus hinder a player’s Slap Shot. Stronger players will raise their ceiling for Shot Power by going up in Stick Flex, especially on Slap Shots. I go into Stick Flex in exhaustive detail in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual.

  • Backswing

When most people visualize the Backswing, they picture the huge 12-to-6 wind-up (thanks to InGoal Magazine):

Andersen2

My “little” brother is 6’3 and has a tremendous, God-given Slap Shot. He takes the big wind-up and pulls the stick blade right behind his ear. I think this might help taller players, like 6’4 Shea Weber, to get their arms fully extended

I’m 6’1 and use a half-moon wind-up:

But again, my Slap Shot looks pretty good at Stick-and-Puck, yet I very rarely get to use it during games. Even in Beer League, there’s rarely the necessary time and space to unload a Full Slapper, and even if there is, there’s probably a better play to be made than trying to blow it past the goalie.

I think Kris Letang has a really great shot, because his wind-up is so compact. He can get his shot off in the blink of an eye:

Letang uses more of a Snap-Slap Shot, and it’s obviously very effective. And let’s all take a moment to appreciate Sid Crosby.

Very loose rule of thumb could be that taller players might prefer a longer wind-up because it allows them to get their arms extended. But this will be very trial-and-error from player-to-player. Do some experimentation and don’t place too much emphasis on the backswing itself.

  • Placement of Puck Relative to Feet

I’ll use the terms Mechanical Advantage and Disadvantage liberally throughout this article.

Most players find the best success striking the puck just inside the front foot. Don’t pull out the measuring tape, but when I take a Slap Shot the puck is usually right between my legs, which are a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.

In terms of the coronal plane (back-to-front), you want to keep the puck in your “Wheelhouse“. If the puck is too close to your skates or too far from your body, you put yourself at a leverage disadvantage. There’s a sweet spot about 8-12” in front of your body where you will strike the puck most cleanly, which a lot of Hockey Players, including my boy Wade Redden, refer to as the “Wheelhouse”:

Image result for hockey one-timer

Notice Wade likes to load up and rip the puck from a bit further back (just inside his back foot). Again thinking in terms of mechanical advantage, this is going to force the player to put more of her or his weight behind the puck, perhaps at the expense of some accuracy.

Call it the “slingshot” principle: the further back you pull the band on the slingshot, the further and faster can potentially fling an object. But in doing so, you’re apt to lose precision. I’ve noticed really good players are able to get their weight back and behind the puck. Sid Crosby and Brett Hull, two of the absolute best, often get so much leverage behind their shots that they drop to one knee:

Image result for sid crosby slap shot

Image result for brett hull one knee

And since it’s here, let’s take two technique points from this tremendous pic of Brett Hull:

  1. His stick is all the way across his body outside of his hip, which he’s able to accomplish because his stick isn’t overly long. I beat this point into the ground in the Manual.
  2. His eyes are up, and he’s staring a hole through whichever early-2000s NHL goaltender he’s about to blow the puck past.

Following the puck with your eyes is a more-advanced piece of the puzzle, but it doesn’t hurt to practice good habits from the start. Also, make sure your stick is short enough that you can freely move your arms across your body.

  • Blade Pattern

I’ve found Blade Pattern has a big bearing on how I shoot. Here’s my rough overview as it pertains to Slap Shots:

On Slap Shots, I have the most success catching the puck up near the toe. If I am using an open or very open Blade Pattern, I have to really turn my hands over on the back swing, or the puck will go sailing.

My experience has been that trying to Slap Shoot through the heel is pretty ineffective. More often than not, the player ends up smacking the puck rather than cradling it, which is the opposite of what you want.

This graphic from Bauer provides a helpful visual:

Image result for slap shot hand placement

Notice that the player’s hands are “cocked” on the back swing. The face of the blade is turned downward toward the ice. I do this with all Blade Patterns to generate additional torque, but this is doubly important with Open Blade Patterns (P40, P92, P29, P28, etc.)

The Slap Shot will vary technically a bit from pattern to pattern. If I am using P40 or PP77, I will have to change the angle of my hands so that the massive curve catches the puck properly. If you are using an Open Heel such as P91A, you have the benefit of a large striking area, but you have to be very conscientious about keeping your hands turned over.

I have better shooting success with longer Blade Patterns, because I tend to “rotate” or “spin” the puck on the stick blade to generate additional torque. This is a technique players from the wooden-stick generation will know well. For this reason, shorter patterns such as PM9 don’t work as well for me, but that’s just a personal preference. Spin is discussed at length below.

In short, you need to consider a few things before you go to work on developing a Slap Shot. If you are a defenseman trying to develop a heavy, low point-shot, maybe using a 75 Flex P28 isn’t the best idea. And if you struggle to get your Wrist Shot off the ice consistently, you should probably work on developing that before you move onto the Slap Shot.

Assuming you’ve considered everything mentioned above, here are a few pointers I’ve picked up:

Common Errors and Technical Cues

  • “Smacking the Puck:

The main mistake I see amateur players make is that they try to hit the puck like it’s a baseball or golf ball. I think Hockey Shooting has more in common with Archery and Lacrosse than Baseball or Golf.

Here’s a good pic of Chris Pronger uncorking a shot:

Image result for al iafrate slapshot

Pronger has “caught” the puck, and he’s generating power by pulling with his top (right) hand while he stabilizes with his bottom (left) hand. The pull with the top hand is generating more of the torque than the drive with the bottom hand. The puck is just inside the front foot, and the shaft of the stick is bending right at the middle rather than just above the blade (mid-kick versus low-kick stick). Pronger has skated into his shot to produce power, and he’s transferring his weight from his back to front foot.

Pronger isn’t “smacking” the puck as though he’s teeing off at Augusta. Once Pronger has “caught” the puck on a preferred area of his blade, he’s violently pulling on the top of the stick to flex it, then snapping through with his bottom hand. The Hockey Slap Shot is surprisingly similar to a Low-to-High or underhand Lacrosse Shot, which can be seen here.

Here’s Ovi taking a signature Slapper. It’s happening in the blink of an eye, but he’s wrapping the toe of his stick blade around the puck, cradling it, torquing the stick, and releasing the puck. It only looks like he’s hitting a low hanging fastball. Also notice how his top hand is up and away from his body, pulling on the top half of the stick and not bumping into his hip (another common technical error):

Image result for alex ovechkin slap shot gif

I’ve made this recommendation roughly 2294 times, but get yourself a wooden stick and learn to feel what it’s like to catch-and-release the puck. Composite blades are often so stiff that players never learn to load the blade properly. Speaking of which ..

  • Blade Loading

Scott Bjugstad does a better job explaining this than I ever could:

You are loading the blade, meaning flexing it to store it with energy. You can accomplish this a number of different ways, including striking the ice before making contact with the puck or spinning the puck to yourself as described above.

Scott advocates letting the arms hang and letting the stick do all of the work. This is a great recommendation if you’re using a very flexible stick and if your sole focus in hockey is shooting. I generally use a stiffer stick for face-offs, puck control, etc., and I’ve found shooting this way takes a toll on my elbows. Because I use a stiffer stick, I use my hips and core a lot more when shoot. Slap Shots and One-Timers especially are more of a full-body effort. Sid demonstrates here.

One technical cue from Scott that I love is that the arms come back while the body comes forward. This is very advanced, and should be saved until you’ve developed a pretty good shot, but this could add a really nice polish to someone’s shot if done properly.

  • “Slicing” the Puck

Anyone familiar with golf knows what it means to “slice” the ball. It basically means that you strike just a bit behind the ball, and send it sailing laterally to your same side (left side for lefties).

What I see a lot of inexperienced players do is swing at the puck with no regard to their blade face. They will often strike the puck with the lower lip of the blade, which produces almost no power and weakly knocks the puck in a random direction.

Related image

Even though it’s very brief on Slap Shots, the player is catching the puck with his stick blade prior to releasing it. It’s the same principle as in golf or lacrosse: the ball or puck is caught on the face or in the pocket, and then it’s whipped toward the target. A lot of amateur players just whack the puck as hard as they can like they’re playing Whack-a-Mole, and it’s very ineffective.

Don’t overthink it, but be mindful of the fact that you’re using your stick blade to grip the puck, whether it’s a Wrist, Snap, or Slap Shot.

  • Hand Placement

Notice two things that all of the included pictures of NHL players taking Slap Shot have in common:

  1. The hands, particularly the top hand, are fairly far in front of and away from the body. A common technical error is that players can “jam” themselves by shooting with the puck too close to their feet. You can also shoot with the puck too far away from your body, and that’s no bueno as well. You basically need to find a sweet spot (Wheelhouse) about 12-24 inches from your torso, and this is only accomplished through practice.
  2. The lower hand is right around the middle of the shaft, give or take. Players can err too far in either direction, and they put themselves at a mechanical disadvantage if their hands are too close together or if the bottom hand is too near the blade. Again, practice is key, but start with your bottom hand comfortably low, about halfway down the shaft.

Image result for slap shot hand placement

(Note: this pic illustrates players using low-kick sticks, which I’ve found fight natural Slap Shot mechanics. This again is discussed thoroughly in the Manual.)

Adding “Spin”

Image result for slap shot puck placement

I was pretty skinny in High School, and I played a lot of Inline Hockey. To generate accuracy and power without raw strength, I got into the habit of putting a lot of “spin” on the puck, much in the same way a baseball pitcher puts spin on a throw to tighten up the trajectory and add velocity. This technique has traditionally made my shot very “heavy”, and would likely do the same for yours.

I think learning to “spin” the puck teaches a player how to generate power through the blade, and ultimately the shaft, of the hockey stick. The progression would obviously start with a Wrist Shot, but a player can teach her or himself a number of different shots by learning to effectively spin the puck on the blade.

For Slap Shots, I’ve had the most success “spinning” the puck on a very tight area on the stick blade. I catch the puck near the toe of the stick with a 2-3″ area of the blade, and forcefully apply spin to add energy and torque the stick. All of this happens very quickly.

Carrying over experience from playing baseball, there are two distinct “snaps” in the way I shoot, the same way a pitcher would double-snap his wrist to throw a curveball or slider: loading or cocking the wrists as they make contact with the puck to initiate spin, and snapping down on the stick on the follow-through of the shot.

Watch this clip of Al Iafrate, the Wild Thing, and see if you can spot the two distinct “snaps” I’m referring to:

For younger players, Iafrate was known was his 103 MPH Slap Shot at a time when that wasn’t common (and he did it using a wooden stick, FYI).

And since we’re educating youngsters, here’s an Al MacInnis compilation:

I’ll stow my “wooden sticks are better” tirade, but notice how on the follow-through of Mac’s shot that the blade face is almost facing the ice. This isn’t something you should emphasize, but on the second “snap” the stick blade usually follows-through face down toward the target.

I’m not sure this is how anyone else would teach shooting, but this is how I learned to shoot. I lacked raw power, so I developed spin techniques. Adding spin will definitely give your shots more accuracy, and will help you focus raw power more directly.

Putting It All Together

The Slap Shot, like a baseball or golf swing, can become a technical nightmare if you let it. Don’t get too far into your head thinking about perfecting every technical aspect. Instead, focus on one area that needs the most immediately improvement.

For example, if you aren’t paying any attention where the puck is in relation to your feet, now would be a good time to start. A big part of the problem could be that you’re hitting the striking the puck too far in front of or behind your Wheelhouse, or striking the puck too far from your body. Cleaning up puck placement is a good place to start, as well as insuring that your Stick Flex isn’t a limiting factor.

Once you begin making consistent, solid contact, you can fine-tune and focus on Blade Loading, experimenting with back swing, play around with spin, etc. Just don’t start taking big wind-up one-timers if you can’t make consistent contact. You wouldn’t move to Advanced Physics if you couldn’t divide or multiply, so don’t make the same mistake here. Get good shooting a stationary puck before moving onto one-timers.

Specific questions can be referred to RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. As always, Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook, and thank you for reading.

Jack

 

Tips for Lengthening Your Hockey Stride

Image result for long hockey stride skating

In the quest for more speed, a factor some players may overlook is getting optimal Length and Extension from each stride.

What I commonly see amateur players doing – and this extends to myself – is churning their legs faster and/or harder in an attempt to generate more speed.

A player is after Economy, meaning maximum efficiency and power with minimum effort. This is the premise of Power Skating, which is taught by experienced coaches across the globe.

An amateur or even professional Hockey Player’s stride can shorten over time, if the Player becomes de-conditioned or fatigued. The Player ends up working twice as hard for half of the result, as outer ends of the stride (lower back/lower legs) are forced to take on an undue burden. This leads to a loss of speed and eventually injury, if steps aren’t taken to correct the problem.

This article is a quick guide on How to Lengthen Your Hockey Stride. A longer stride is something most players should strive for, as it will ultimately give skaters a major competitive advantage within the game.

Off-Ice

Image result for sitting glute inhibition

I’m a very common example of why a player’s stride might shorten over time:

I drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania and back multiple times per year. As much as I like seeing my family and going to Sheetz, the 12+ hour drive from Wilmington, NC to my mother’s house is grueling. I would honestly rather run for 12 hours than sit for the same length of time, as prolonged sitting really messes up an athlete’s body. This concept is well-covered here by performance coach Kelly Starrett.

Back in late 2013/early 2014, I began to notice a sharp decline in my athleticism. This was because I was forced to sit for 4-6 hours every day for five months in my firefighter/EMT classes.  I remember going into the courses as an athletic specimen and completing them as a physical train wreck.

At the time, I was far less educated on what was happening with my body, but in retrospect, here are the hormonal/physiological pitfalls I hit, which took me from moving like a tiger to moving like a geriatric:

  • I fell into a negative Nitrogen Balance, meaning my body was Catabolizing my muscle mass. This was because I didn’t have the opportunity to eat frequently, as my instructors would often power through the courses for 4 or more hours at a time without a real meal break.
  • The Stress from the courses was overwhelming. I am in the part of the population that starves themselves (rather than overeats) when under duress, and this greatly contributed to a major loss of Gains.
  • I made the stress situation worse by coping with crazy amounts of Caffeine, which crushed my metabolism and further promoted the release of stress hormones (notably Cortisol) and promoted muscle-wasting.

If you would like to really get into nutrition/supplementation, e-mail me RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com, and I’ll blister you with information. Just understand that I, like lots of working adults, fell into a Catabolic trap. In short, if you want to continue to Play Hockey and move well as you age, it’s crucial that you maintain a positive Nitrogen Balance and mitigate the effects of Cortisol.

From an orthopedic/muscular standpoint, here’s what happened:

  • I was forced to sit for hours on end, which deactivated/inhibited my Abdominals/Glutes and further shortened my Hip Flexors. Hockey itself tends to shorten the Hip Flexors, and this condition tends to artificially shorten the Hamstrings. If your Glutes aren’t firing properly, you know which body part picks up the slack? Your Lower Back, which isn’t equipped to handle the dynamic movements of Hockey by itself.

Here’s a visual of what happens as one’s Hip Flexors shorten due to excessive sitting:

Pulled Hamstrings treatment Bellevue, NE

 

Image result for short hip flexors sitting

Pelvis falls into Anterior Pelvic Tilt, Hip Flexors become short/tight/prone to strains, Hamstrings artificially lose length, Abs/Glutes go to sleep, Lower Back muscles take on way too much of the mechanical burden.

The average person might not notice this dysfunction, but this combination is both devastating and highly-apparent to a Hockey Player. Again, the average amateur Hockey Player already has relatively-short Hip Flexors/APT, and chronic sitting only worsens the condition. Fortunately, this problem is correctable.

Cues/Drills

Your Glutes are often “sleeping giants”, and they don’t tend to fire unless the intensity is really high (i.e. Sprinting). Even then, they tend to go back to sleep if you aren’t going all-out every day.

Image result for sit bones

The Cue that works best for me to re-activate my Glutes and take some of the strain off my Hip Flexors is “tap down on your sit-bones.” Nerds will refer to the sit-bones as the ischial tuberosity.

Lots and lots of people, including elite Hockey Players, don’t use their Glutes properly during Hinge/Lunge/Squat movement patterns. People like this are often said to be Quadriceps-Dominant or Slow-Twitch Dominant. I am very quadriceps-dominant, and my tendency in Squats/Skating is to make my Quads to most of the work. As you try to optimize your skating or squatting, this overuse of the Quads – and the underdevelopment of the Posterior Chain – becomes a major limiting factor.

So, it’s important to get the Glutes, especially, firing and uninhibited while minimizing the contribution of the already-overused Hip Flexors and Quadriceps. To limit the use of my gargantuan Quads and fried Hip Flexors, this is my favorite drill:

Pistol Squat Progression

The key is to not get competitive with yourself, and to focus on using your Glutes to do the bulk of the work. I’ll often start with a higher box that only forces me to lower myself 4-8 inches. I get the most value from 6-8 reps x 4-5 sets, beyond which point I will A) add weight, and then B) lower the box/platform.

Keep your Hip Flexors out of the equation, and try to think of this as more of a physical therapy or rehab drill. This will be tough for some of you gym-rats who routinely squat six plates or more, but the goal here is to correct this dysfunction before it gets worse, and to lengthen your Hockey Stride. Don’t get caught up making this an ego drill.

A lot of coaches love Bridging and Barbell Hip Thrusts as Glute Activation Drills, but to be honest, I don’t get as much value from them as some do. I do recommend you read up on the subject, and try them yourself. The go-to for all things Glutes is definitely Bret Contreras, AKA The Glute Guy.

Once your Glutes are firing well, the next step is to focus on lengthening the stride and incorporating this additional power into the movement.

One of my favorite strength-training drills to combat shortened Hip Flexors, tax the Glutes, and work on adding length back into your Hamstrings is the Foot-Elevated Lunge:

Related image

Image result for foot elevated lunge

There are numerous ways to do this drill: forward lunge onto box, reverse lunge, with Dumbbells, Barbell, Goblet-style, etc. My suggestion is to play around a bit and find the variation that works best for you, as long as you are accomplishing the following:

  • Primary goal is to add missing length to your Hockey Stride. I would keep the weight relatively-light and try to add depth and distance to the lunge. You will be working some relatively-small muscles near your pelvis as well as trying to add length/strength to one or both of your Hip Flexors. No need to put 225 on your back.
  • Since your Hip Flexors are likely trashed, I recommend a slow Eccentric of 4-5 seconds, a one-second pause at the bottom of the movement, and a powerful Concentric in which your fire the working Glute hard and allow the antagonist Hip Flexor to take some of the recoil.
  • You are training both sides (Glute/Hip Flexor) of the front leg, but you want to condition your Glute to do most of the work. The Hip Flexor serves as more of a “brake” in this movement, which will be very similar to a quality Skating Stride.
  • I like to do this drill “Goblet-style”:

Image result for goblet front lunge

Doing a Goblet Front Lunge 1) takes my sizable ego out of the movement and forces me to focus on form, 2) encourages an upright spine, 3) encourages me to move forward/down rather than forward/forward.

Quad-dominant types and fellow Hockey Players will want to lean forward as they descend into a lunge or squat, bringing their heels off the ground and excessively driving the knees forward. While this is fine to a degree, the focus is on lengthening/strengthening the Posterior Chain (back part of the leg), and that includes the muscles near the calf (including the Anterior Tibialis/Dorsiflexion muscles) as well as those near the Achilles Tendon.

I recommend you keep your weight back a bit on your front leg and keep your heel locked down. This will work the musculature around the hip, and not continue to overtax the Quads/Knees/Lower Back.

Lastly, do some work on your Abdominals. If your Hip Flexors/Lower Back are shot and Sit-Ups are out of the question, I recommend you start with Stability Ball Diver Crunches:

Image result for stability ball diver crunch

These will take a ton of strain off the Lower Back/Hip Flexors while allowing you to work the Abdominals. I recommend you accelerate through the Concentric (without bouncing) and return the start position under control. I generally do sets of 20-30 reps, adding weight after I clear 30. To make the movement more challenging, keep your arms straighter and bring them further behind your head (but don’t tear your Rotator Cuff overloading beyond a stable Range of Motion). Crunch up toward the ceiling, not forward.

On-Ice

Image result for carl hagelin skating

On-Ice (or on Inline Skates), the goal is simple: reinforce the proper (longer) movement pattern. Focus on striding during games and build length into your stride rather than continuing to dart around with a choppier stride.

Carl Hagelin, seen above, is known as one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. He also has a noticeably-long stride, on display here.

While Carl has tremendous efficiency/recovery, what jumps out to me is the way he lunges with every stride. I think a common mistake among amateur players is that they are overly-strong through a shorter Range of Motion (maybe through the mid-top of the Quads) and don’t stay low enough to the ice through the duration of the shift or game.

Training the smaller muscles high around the Pelvis, Glute-Ham fold, Ileus, etc. for both endurance and power will help keep you low as fatigue sets in. Strength Training and Corrective Exercise is a good foundation for this, but ultimately you will need to reinforce this longer movement pattern while you’re skating.

A great skating drill is the Drag Touch by Laura Stamm. This really hard-wires the proper movement pattern. Here is a video from Laura on the Forward Stride, if you’re more visually-inclined.

Dynamic Strength through the small muscles of the lower core, Hip Flexors, and Pelvis will enable the player to maximize knee bend and Quadriceps power. While a common cue from Hockey Coaches is to bend the knees more to get low, the Player needs to have adequate stabilizing strength through the muscles near the Pelvis and high leg. The drills at the top of the section will help develop those muscles.

Start slow. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast. Practice long, smooth lunges on-ice or on Inline Skates, using a drill such as Ms. Stamm’s Drag Touch. Focus on extending the back leg maximally and generating power through a snap of the ankles and flick of the toes.

A few other players, in fact two of my favorites, who really maximized the length of their stride (and thus their power/efficiency) are Sergei Fedorov and Marian Gaborik.

Marian created tons and tons of breakaways for himself by pulling away from opponents with long, powerful strides. This is a great shot of Marian scoring in-stride on a breakaway:

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There isn’t a defender in-frame because Marian pulled away from everyone. Look at how low he is compared to the net. His skating stride sits at 90 degrees.

Equally fast was Sergei Fedorov, who is best appreciated on film. Here’s an hour of Sergei Fedorov highlights, during which he uses his incredibly-long stride to power around opponents and create space for himself:

Here’s Fedorov vs. Pavel Bure in Fastest Skater competition. Notice how wide of a base both players take even while decelerating, a sign of great core/upper leg strength:

And thanks to Getty Images for this great shot:

Image result for sergei fedorov fastest skater

You can see that Fedorov is churning forward, rather than driving his weight down and into the ice as in a Squat. I think a misconception among a lot of amateur players is that skating is like running or like squatting, and thus you see many amateurs working twice as hard for half of the result.

Getting more length, and eventually more power, out of every stride is the most-efficient way to improve speed.

Additional Resources and Final Thoughts

Image result for taylor hall skating stride

This is a great, very technical article by Kevin Neeld that covers some topics I glossed over:

http://www.kevinneeld.com/a-3-step-approach-to-improving-stride-length/

I think between Kevin’s article and mine, there is plenty of information to get an amateur player started on adding length to her or his stride.

As always, questions can be directed to RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com, and it’s always appreciated when you Like Us on Facebook.

Thanks for Reading,

Jack

 

 

Reboot Hockey Redefined

It’s early February 2017, and I am at work on the Second Edition of the Reboot Hockey Training Manual. The First Edition remains a high-value gem, and is available for sale here.

In deciding how I’m going re-write the Second Edition and add more value for Reboot readers, I noticed that the articles I wrote for the blog gradually got away from being cost-effective ways to modify equipment and Hockey Theory, and became more about reviewing new equipment just for the sake of doing so.

While I think my Honest Hockey Reviews possess a certain amount of character that you won’t find elsewhere, I also believe I’ve gotten away from original Reboot concept – modifying existing Hockey Equipment for maximum on-ice effect – and fallen into the trap of writing just to increase readership.

To wit: one of my main goals in launching Reboot Hockey was just to find a pair of skates that fit. Over time, my orthopedic issues have gradually gotten worse while Hockey Skates have gotten stiffer and stiffer, and it’s been a battle to find a pair of skates that 1) I could wear without debilitating pain that 2) allowed me to skate to my ability.

In late 2015, I had the CCM Jetspeed skates on my feet, and you know what? They fit fine. Very well, in fact. They needed some minor skate-punching, but otherwise they were everything I had been seeking in a skate. So rather than do the smart thing and just drop the $800 on the pair I demoed, the little voice in the back of my head whispered, “the Makos might be better,” and “wait for the Super Tacks”.

So I did. I waited for a few months before I bought the Easton Mako II skates on closeout, and I couldn’t make them fit. So I went several more months without skates that fit/performed, then I bought the Super Tacks shortly after they came out. While the Super Tacks certainly perform, I’ve had to re-work my skating stride from scratch to accommodate them. And they still hurt while I wear them.

Acknowledging that I’ve learned a book’s worth about modern skate-fitting, the lessons learned were expensive in terms of actual cash, and more importantly Time. Time is invaluable, and as a Hockey Player that’s a lesson you’re not cognizant of until you’re closer to the end than the beginning. The amount of Time I lost fiddling around and waiting for the next, best thing is Time that would have been better spent just playing the game in skates that worked well.

In the course of the Super Tacks review, I also had to admit that I haven’t used a ton of Bauer skates in the recent past. I did a lot of research on the Bauer Supreme 1S and the Vapor 1X (as well as the now-released Nexus 1N), and started to wonder if I should start saving up for a high-end Bauer boot, as if that would finally solve my skate-fitting problems and make me a more-objective reviewer for Reboot.

Point being, I’ve thrown thousands of dollars at this particular problem over the past several years – and I was nearly prepared to throw more – while I’ve gotten further away from what I initially wanted. Yes, it would be cool if Reboot Hockey became an outrageous success, and it’s very gratifying to help fellow players with their Hockey-related problems, but what I really want – what gets me out of bed in the morning – is being the absolute best Hockey Player that I can be. Demoing, modifying, and reviewing equipment is just a means to that end.

And in the course of doing all of this, I’ve gotten away from what I really believe, which is that a commitment to conditioning, eating right, and improving athleticism will make up for deficient equipment in most cases.

So, I’m writing this piece to re-define what Reboot Hockey is all about moving forward.

First, I want you to reject the idea that the newest stick or pair of skates is going to dramatically improve your game. Do yourself a solid and check out this picture of San Jose Sharks Center and future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thornton:

Image result for joe thornton 2015

Jumbo led his squad to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final in eight-year old skates – my cherished CCM U+ Pros -and a two-piece blade/shaft. It looks like Jumbo grabbed someone’s broken RibCor out of a trash can, shaved the end, and stuffed a 2007 blade into it. And at Age 37, Joe Thornton is still one of the dominant Centermen in the NHL.

Joe Thornton is Hockey. I would much rather that Reboot Hockey Readers take the same stance at Joe Thornton – who obviously puts a premium on familiarity at the expense of technological advancement – which is that the equipment is secondary. Jumbo literally has his choice of anything on the market, and he chooses to use a freaking two-piece stick. And using a two-piece stick and eight-year old skates, he finished fourth – 4th! – in the National Hockey League in scoring in 2015-16, en route to coming within two games of winning the Stanley Cup.

Image result for chris kunitz joel ward

Speaking of which, there’s also 37-year old Pittsburgh Penguins winger Chris Kunitz, he of three Stanley Cup Rings. In the above photo, he’s making the defensive play of the 2016 Cup Final, back-checking like a maniac and diving to rob Joel Ward (rocking the U+ Pros) of a clear-cut breakaway.

Chris Kunitz hasn’t had the behemoth statistical career that Joe Thornton has, but he’s been a rock and a warrior. I don’t think an NHL player wins one Stanley Cup by circumstance, let alone three, and I bet Jumbo would trade his 1400 regular-season points for a single Stanley Cup victory.

As he’s aged, Kunitz has had to make the adjustment from being Sid Crosby’s primary winger to being more of a depth winger. To start 2017, he found himself on the team’s 4th line, and you haven’t heard a whisper of a complaint from him. Chris Kunitz just goes out and plays, and finds ways to be effective in whatever role he’s placed in, whether it’s a depth-scoring role or winging the Best Player in Hockey.

A beat report in Pittsburgh asked Kunitz if he’s had to adjust his game as he gets older and the game quickens. This was his reply:

You’re not going to reinvent yourself,” he told me. “If you are, you might be getting away from the things that got you here.”

A problem that I’ve encountered as a Hockey Player is that I’ve tried fixing things that aren’t broken. I’ve got that Sid Crosby problem where I’m always picking at my own game and trying to do everything better, sometimes doing things differently just for the sake of doing so.

For example, at some point around 2011 I started getting chapped over the fact that my Slapshot has always been pretty mediocre. So I tuned down the flex on my sticks a little bit, went with a closed-face Blade Pattern, and took dozens upon dozens of Slapshots. Today, I have a really good Slapshot. And you know what? I almost never, ever use it in games. In the process, I got away from refining the things that I successfully did very well, such as my Alex Kovalev-style wrister.

The current trend in equipment has been for lower Stick Flexes in the interest of maximizing Shot Release and Energy Loading. But you know what you trade when you drop down to a whippier stick? Accuracy, for one thing. And if you subscribe to the same methodology as everyone else, or try to be too perfect at everything, you make yourself a more-common player. Sometimes, the trends and changes in equipment can get you away from what made you successful in the first place. This is a lesson most players won’t learn until they’ve invested significant time in the game. 

Chris Kunitz doesn’t have this problem. He’s known exactly who is as a Hockey Player for years and years. He initiates contact, as hard as he can. He’s probably scored the same way hundreds upon hundreds of times. He’s not fancy, but he’s extremely polished and professional.

Like Joe Thornton, Chris Kunitz is Hockey. If you look at a picture of Kunitz from 2007, you can see that his equipment – aside from those sick black Eagle gloves – has barely changed. One doesn’t get the sense that Chris Kunitz spends a lot of time or energy agonizing over which equipment to use in trying to refine his game. He gets the equipment right the first time, then he just goes out there and works on his game. The equipment is just window-dressing.

The game constantly evolves, and I’m proof that the temptation to acquiesce to the newest technology exists. But I’m urging you not to let equipment become a crutch for the perceived deficiencies in your game.

I could even argue that the latest equipment being pumped out at the Retail level is hindering players as much as helping them, but I’ll save that rant for the Second Edition of the Training Manual.

When Mark and I began Reboot Hockey, I think we both believed that eventually some of the equipment manufacturers would donate some gear to us for demo and review. Years and dozens of Honest Hockey Reviews later, that has not proven to be the case. I’ve paid out of pocket for pretty much everything I’ve tried, and again while this has been educational, it’s been expensive and not necessarily conducive to improving my game.

So for 2017, the focus from Reboot Hockey is going to be on helping players get the most out of they have on-hand, rather than reviewing new and different equipment just for the sake of doing so. Not to keep shilling for the Training Manual, but most of the information I’ve taken off the blog and reconstituted into the book has been on Lacing Methods, Profiling, Selecting a Stick Flex, Shooting and Scoring Techniques, Ways to Improve Body Composition, etc. I really believe that I put the most-effective, valuable stuff – the information that is going to make you a Better Hockey Player – into the Training Manual, and that new equipment purchases are like dessert for otherwise-dedicated players.

Equipment Purchases/Reviews are fun, and a nice way to celebrate the game. Walking out of a pro shop with a brand new twig or pair of gloves puts a smile on any Hockey Player’s face. But going to a Hockey Shop and throwing money at an on-ice problem is the laziest, and often least-effective, path to improvement. If you want to be a Better Hockey Player, you’ve got to put the work in, and that extends to taking care of your body and understanding the game from a mental perspective. Those are going to be primary focuses in the Second Edition of the Training Manual.

I understand that many readers check out Reboot Hockey for the equipment reviews. I have the stats from the blog right in front of me, and the majority of new visitors are looking for product information on the latest releases from Bauer and CCM. And when I pick up a new stick or a new pair of shin-guards (both of which I presently need), I’ll likely throw up an Honest Hockey Review. But I’m making a conscious effort to get away from buying new equipment just to review it for Reboot.

I do think that equipment can be a limiting factor in some circumstances. If you’re working on your stick-handling every night and the blade rattles, then the equipment is an issue. If you have 20+ years in the game, using a stick such as Bauer Supreme One.4 will probably hinder your game. But I also think too many people – and I’m guilty of this myself – focus too much on the brand of the gear or spend too-valuable Time micro-analyzing the differences between a 2015 RibCor and a 2016 Reckoner. That’s no longer going to be the focus of Reboot Hockey.

If you have a specific technical issue within your game – maybe you have a hard time getting your shot off the ice, or struggle with your backhand – I’m happy to take ultra-specific, hockey-related questions at RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you’re having a problem with how a certain piece of your gear fits, I recommend you get in contact with Mark or me either via the e-mail posted above or via our Facebook page. One or both of us will come up with creative solutions that will help your gear fit so that you can focus on just playing the game.

If you have a number of general questions about how to gear-up so you can go out and just enjoy the game, I recommend you put $11 in my pocket and pick up a copy of the Training Manual. There is years worth of trial-and-error information that I wish I had on-hand as a high-school or even college player. As a bonus, people who purchase the 1st Edition get the free upgrade to the Second Edition, upon release.

I hope you as a reader appreciate this new direction, even if you’re a reader who came specifically for the equipment reviews. But in outlining the Second Edition of the Training Manual, it was important for me to re-examine what Reboot Hockey was all about, in the interest of producing the best content possible.

Thank you for reading, and for your continued support of Reboot Hockey,

Jack and Mark

Marc-Andre Fleury, My Favorite Goaltender

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I heard about Marc-Andre Fleury before I saw him. Literally, I heard thousands of fans chanting his name before I had seen him play.

In October 2003, I was driving back to my home at the time, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, which sits atop a hill about three city blocks from the former site of Mellon Arena. I was listening to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ radio broadcast of a preseason game versus the Los Angeles Kings.

People from Pittsburgh will be able to visualize: I was coming from I-579N, getting off at the Sixth Street exit and heading toward Fifth Avenue. You come off the exit ramp, drive around a bend to a traffic light, and you’re staring straight at the parking lot where the Civic Arena used to be.

I’m listening to the radio broadcast of the game, and the Pens were predictably losing 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings, but the 2003 Penguins losing wasn’t newsworthy. The story was that the Penguins’ not-yet-19-year old goaltender was making his NHL debut.

I’ll get to back to what this meant to the franchise in a moment, but this is why this game will forever be seared into my brain:

During a Hockey game, fans make a number of very distinct sounds when certain plays happen. Even a diminished home crowd such as the one that watched this October 2003 preseason game makes these noises.

If the home team almost scores -especially if they whiff on an empty net, or the puck trickles through the away team’s crease – the sound the crowd makes is more of an “OHHH!”, as if to say “Dammit, we were so close,” or “Aw, shit”.

When the home team’s goaltender makes a great save, the home crowd makes more of an “AHHH!” sound. It’s nervous relief combined with wonder.

I stopped at the red light in front of the Civic Arena, about to turn right to go toward Duquesne, and I’m listening to the game. I swear to God, the “AHHH!” noises coming from inside the Civic/Mellon Arena were louder than the radio broadcast in my car. I could hear the crowd as clear as day appreciating the franchise’s newest teenage savior.

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There probably weren’t 5,000 people in the arena for that preseason game, which the Pens would go on to lose 3-0. Marc made 46 saves behind one of the worst rosters in contemporary NHL history. Here’s CBC’s recap of the game, if you didn’t click on the link above:

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did everything in his NHL debut — except get the win.

The 18-year-old netminder stopped 46 shots, including a penalty shot, in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at the Igloo.

Eric Belanger, Trent Klatt and Zigmund Palffy scored for the Kings, who were coming off a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Thursday night. Palffy and Klatt added assists in the win.

Cristobal Huet had a much easier time in the other goal, making 11 saves for his second career shutout.

Fleury, the first overall pick in June’s NHL entry draft, was spectacular between the pipes for the Pens, but was saddled with the burden of seven Kings power plays.

And that’s been much of Marc’s story in Pittsburgh: he has often played exceptionally-well behind an atrocious or indifferent defense, and his efforts would largely be forgotten or underappreciated.

A lot of people who jumped on the Penguins’ bandwagon in 2013 or whenever have no idea what Marc has meant to the franchise. He was Hope at a time in which the franchise had none, with the team having recently parted out players like Alex Kovalev and Marty Straka while the specter of Relocation loomed large.

The 2003-04 season was the lowest point in 20 years for the Penguins, dating back to the season before Mario was drafted, and prior to Sid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury was the light at the end of the tunnel signalling a better future.

I’m here to educate all of the newer and fair-weather fans: the franchise has been blessed to have drafted Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s been everything Penguins fans could have reasonably expected and more.

I’m not a naive fan. I recognize that Marc’s time in Pittsburgh is quickly coming to an end. The fourteen years since the team took him out of Cape Breton have flown by, and like Marc himself, I wish there was a way to keep him in Pittsburgh for the duration of his playing career. But the writing appears to be on the wall, for as I write this Matt Murray is set to start his 6th consecutive game for the team and has seemingly cemented his place as the team’s starting goaltender moving forward.

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But there are so many fans, both educated and otherwise, who can’t wait to see the team cut ties with Marc Fleury, as though he’s some albatross. Penguins fans and NHL trade-deadline junkies alike can’t come up with enough circle-jerk scenarios that land Flower on a Western Conference pretender in exchange for a top-flight defenseman or winger and a cascade of Cap Space.

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I’ll tell these groups two things right now: there isn’t a player that the Penguins are going to get back who is going to be more-impactful than Marc. And the Penguins absolutely cannot get back a better human being or teammate.

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 Marc has watched Matt Murray, correctly or incorrectly, wrestle his job from him. And by all accounts, he has been as positive and supportive as one could reasonably expect.

Is Marc pleased that some snot-nosed 21-year old punk has taken his position as the team’s top goaltender, just as the franchise for which he’s toiled under is experiencing a rebirth under Jim Rutherford and Mike Sullivan? Fuck no. Marc is very highly-competitive, even by the standards of a professional athlete. But I’ll get back to all of this at the end of the article.

I want to write a bit about all of the misconceptions related to Marc Fleury, as I feel he’s taken a disproportionate amount of criticism for the team’s underwhelming playoff performances between 2010 and 2016. 

Let’s start with the one-the-nose stuff, since Flower’s critics tend to be obtuse and thicker than wet cement:

The Penguins were still the underdog when they played the Detroit Red Wings for a second time in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Advanced stats geeks will tell you that the 2007-2009 Red Wings were a generational possession juggernaut.

The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Flower defiantly told the assembled media in Detroit following Game 2 that the series was nowhere near over. Then Pittsburgh, with Flower in goal, beat Detroit four out of five times. To cap it off, Marc made one of the best saves in Stanley Cup Final history:

That’s Marc making a dead-to-rights save on Nick Lidstrom – Detroit’s Best Player, Captain, and Reigning Norris Trophy Winner – in the waning seconds of a Game 7.

For all the praise someone like Patrick Roy gets for being a Money Goaltender, I challenge anyone to come up with a more-clutch scenario. The opponent’s best player has the puck on his stick, with a point-blank opportunity in the final seconds of Game 7 of a hotly-contested, rematch Cup Final. If I wrote that as Fiction, it would be derided as being too unrealistic.

And that’s not to denigrate Patrick Roy. He was great. But Marc Fleury has also been great. Lots of great goaltenders – Hank Lundqvist, Braden Holtby, and Carey Price, to name a few – can go their entire careers without winning or even appearing in a Cup Final. 

It sometimes seems like endless bouquets, probably rightfully so, are thrown at certain goalies for their excellence in the regular season. Lundqvist is a key example. But when their teams fall short in the postseason, the shortcomings are perceived to be those of the team rather than a fantastic goaltender’s inability to win in a clutch situation.

Marc has won a Cup, appeared in another, and positioned his team to win a third. The guy has flat-out won a ton of games, playoff and regular-season alike. And that’s a big reason why he’s my favorite.

Marc is no different than any other NHL starting goaltender, except that maybe his highs are higher and his lows are lower. Unfortunately, his ten-bell robberies don’t earn him any more credit than routine stops from the outside, and that has been the basis of his criticism.

Every goaltender lets in bad goals, and admittedly Marc probably lets in as many as any NHL goaltender. These are the best players in the world competing against each other, and sometimes someone is going to the shorter end of the stick. But Marc also makes saves that no one else can. Like this one. And this one. And all of these.

In 2017, Marc Fleury is maybe too athletic for his position. Contemporary Goaltending has become extremely economical and positional, and in this regard many NHL goalies (including Matt Murray) are better than Marc. The modern NHL is a league in which five players help clog shooting lanes, with the goaltender minimizing movement. Marc has matured a great deal in this regard and become a better positional goaltender, but this is and never was his forte.

In fact, had he come into the League five years earlier, I suspect Flower would be viewed much-more favorably by casual fans and the at-large media. As an example, Marty Brodeur won the 2004 Vezina Trophy with a Save Percentage of .917, which would be a decent or even below-average  year for Flower. Meanwhile in 2016, the three Vezina finalists had Save Percentages of .922, .930, and .933, respectively.

This again isn’t to denigrate Marty Brodeur, but to point out how expectations and the position have fundamentally changed. 2004 Vezina Winner and nailed-on Hall of Famer Marty Brodeur would be a statistically below-average starting goaltender in 2017. Marc has not only kept up but improved greatly as a goaltender, and still the expectations for excellence have surpassed his statistical performance.

But Marc has been very good, and it seems like most people look to poke holes in his overall performance rather than celebrate his accomplishments.

To wit, much of the national media likes to cherry-pick Marc’s worst moments, such as his ill-conceived forays out of his net and the 2012 playoff flame-out against the Philadelphia Flyers. They haven’t watched him game-in, game-out every year like I have, and the outside perception is that he’s this head-case that has single-handily prevented the Crosby-era Penguins from ringing off a fistful of consecutive Cup runs.

Winning One Stanley Cup Championship, or even appearing in one Cup Final, is unfathomably difficult. But it’s the annual expectation of the Pittsburgh Penguins management, ownership, and fan base, not to mention intrigued outsiders. And that expectation has created a negative misconception relative to what Marc Fleury has helped his teams accomplish.

On the other hand, Marc gets relatively-little credit for reinventing his game at the onset of the 2014 season, and carrying his team through the dying days of Disco Dan Bylsma and the regrettable Mike Johnston era.

I’ll take a moment to specifically address the 2012 playoff series against Philadelphia:

I had just moved to Wilmington, NC from Pittsburgh, and I didn’t have a ton going on in my life socially at the time. So I watched every minute of that series like a hawk, and Marc inarguably let in some bad goals. But that was a team-wide collapse for which Marc has taken undue criticism.

The Penguins coach, Dan Bylsma, let the Flyers drag his high-flying skill squad into the mud. The Flyers were able to dictate the tone of the series, getting the Penguins away from the dominant, record-setting 5-on-5 possession game they had played for most of the season and turning the series into a penalty-filled Special Teams battle. Credit to Philadelphia for taking the wheel, but shame on Dan Bylsma for not getting a handle on his team or adjusting his tactics in any way.

As I write this, Dan Bylsma, who I like and respect, is struggling to keep his team competitive in Buffalo. He would kill to have Marc Fleury playing goal for him.

A number of Penguins’ players – notably Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Aaron Asham, James Neal, and the basically-useless Craig Adams –  lost their damned minds during that 2012 series, taking a ton of unnecessary penalties and putting their goaltender in a position to fail. If you read the Box Scores from the series, it reads a lot more like a team that emotionally-collapsed rather than a goaltender who self-immolated.

The defense didn’t do great work, it should go without saying. Kris Letang didn’t help matters by spending the bulk of the series in the Penalty Box and forcing Matt Niskanen to pick up his slack. Paul Martin was injured for half of the series and diminished when he was available. Deryk Engelland played to his capabilities, but he absolutely should not have been in the top-6 of a team with Cup aspirations.

And since we’re talking about it, let’s re-examine Ray Shero’s role in orchestrating this nightmare scenario. He girded up his fourth line with the likes of Adams, Asham, and Joe Vitale, a collective possession black-hole at the NHL level. His absurd strategy of having Sid/Geno/Staal/Neal account for 80% of the scoring looks worse with each passing day. He took a Pittsburgh Penguins “soul” and wrapped a Philadelphia Flyers shell around it, and a consequence was the 2012 series loss to the Flyers.

I like Ray Shero, and I supported him for a long time. But as I write this, he currently has his New Jersey Devils team dead-last in the Eastern Conference. I would argue that the nucleus of Sid, Geno, Jordan Staal, and Flower won in-spite of Ray’s roster-building as much as they benefited from it.

Marc certainly played his part in the Penguins’ 2012 playoff loss. Eight goals against in back-to-back games is horrid. But that was a team-wide collapse, barring a few exceptions (Malkin, Niskanen, Jordan Staal) that Marc has taken disproportionate blame for.

You can watch this preposterous series compilation and form your own opinion. But I think a lot of people, including his coach and general manager, scapegoated Marc pretty unfairly.

Marc got yanked again after Game 4 of the 2013 Eastern Quarterfinals, as the organizational slant was to blame Flower for being psychologically-frail rather than look at Bylsma’s inability to adjust his tactics or Shero’s decision to disrupt chemistry and over-stuff the roster with aging, plodding veterans like Doug Murray and Brenden Morrow (note: the Jarome Iginla trade was still a great one).

With Marc mostly watching from the bench, I unfortunately have to remind Penguins fans that the team got absolutely taken to the wood-shed by the Boston Bruins, getting shut-out in the 2013 Eastern Final. If that’s not an indictment of the coach’s inability to adapt, rather than a goaltender who barely played, then I don’t know what is.

Those two playoff series are the basis upon which the national media has built much of their Marc Fleury narrative. The narrative seems to be that Marc Fleury is a playoff choker and a mental case, but the truth is that he owns two Cup Rings and has won nine playoff series behind an often-porous defense and frequently over-matched coaches in Bylsma and Johnston.

The national media rarely mentions that Flower nearly stole a 2013 series against Tampa Bay – Sid and Geno were both out with injuries, Mark Letestu centered the 1st line, and James Neal had one goal in 20-odd games for Pittsburgh – or that his composure prevented the Columbus Blue Jackets from upsetting the 2014 team in the 1st round.

Most national pundits acknowledge that the Penguins lost to a greatly-superior Rangers team in the 2015 Eastern Quarterfinal, but Flower receives little credit for keeping the punchless Penguins in the series. The Penguins – the damn Pittsburgh Penguins, they of the myriad all-star forwards and scoring titles – meekly bowed out after one win and four 2-1 losses. Marc put up a .927 Save Percentage, and while Hank Lundqvist outplayed him, barely, the Penguins didn’t put enough pucks past Lundqvist for it to merit discussion.

Mike Johnston and his Junior Hockey systems nearly drained the life from the franchise, but Marc Fleury’s steady play allowed the team to maintain a modicum of respect. Marc put up a .921 Save Percentage in 2014-15, holding the fort while Johnston’s inane system and the team’s lack of puck-moving defensemen crippled the offense.

Smarter fans and followers will remember that the Penguins almost missed the playoffs in 2014, and needing a win on the last day of the season, Marc put up a Shutout in Buffalo behind five defensemen.

Something very similar happened in 2015-16, in which Marc put up a .920 Save Percentage for the season and banked much-needed victories until the Mike Johnston era mercifully came to an end. The 2015-16 Penguins simply do not win the Stanley Cup without Marc’s regular-season performance. This fact frequently gets swept aside by critics of Marc and proponents of Matt Murray.

If I really thought about it, I could come up with dozens upon dozens of games in which Flower was a standout for the franchise. Like I wrote at the top of the article, I’ve seen the bulk of them as they unfolded live, and frankly Fleury has had too many stellar performances to remember. But I’ll include some more of those at a later date.

The advanced stats crowd – for whom my contempt grows by the day – loves to cite statistics such as “Expected Goals Against/60” as their argument for why Marc Fleury isn’t a quality NHL netminder. I would take such statistics much more seriously if the geeks espousing them had ever played a meaningful hockey game, but more often than not that’s not the case.

The statistic that supporters of Marc such as myself will cite is Wins, a statistic in which Marc currently sits 17th in the history of the NHL and could easily jump to 13th with more routine work. If he starts three or four more years for a playoff-caliber team, Marc could crack the top-5 of all-time.

Flower’s detractors take a basic, dense stance on this matter, which is that the gaudy Wins total is a result of the teams in front him while the inconsistent individual stats are solely Marc’s fault. These detractors are typically the nerds who want to distill Hockey down to a something you can completely interpret with algorithms and spreadsheets. These detractors usually want to suggest that the juggernaut Penguins of the last decade would have won all of those games with any jamoke beer-league goaltender backstopping them.

But Hockey People – the real, knowledgeable ones, like Pens GM Jim Rutherford – will tell you that you win and lose as a team, and that certain attributes can’t be quantified. I’ll argue all day that the Penguins’ fast-and-loose style of play – combined with Marc’s baptism-by-fire behind the atrocious 2003-04 and 2005-06 Penguins – have suppressed his personal statistics to a large degree. If you throw out his first several years in the League, Marc’s career Goals Against and Save Percentage look a lot better.

Marc-Andre Fleury has always been the ultimate teammate, and that more than his personal statistics will be his legacy in Pitttsburgh. That and the two large pieces of silver hardware for which he is directly responsible. 

When someone like Steve Yzerman or Jonathan Toews sacrifices his personal statistics for the good of the team, it’s seen as commendable or even noble. And that’s what Marc Fleury has done for the bulk of his career: he’s put his team in front of himself, and I challenge anyone to argue otherwise.

Not to keep picking on Jonathan Toews, but if Joel Quenneville reduced his playing time to ten minutes a night – or even made him a regular healthy scratch – I wonder if he would accept a role reduction as gracefully as Flower has. Some are going to fail to see my comparison, but it’s apt.

It’s a team sport, and Wins are the ultimate statistic. It’s about time that Marc was applauded for his huge Win totals, rather than seen as a replaceable cog on the Crosby-era Penguins teams. Maybe after he’s playing and climbing the All-Time Wins list for another NHL team, people – Pittsburghers, especially – will have a greater appreciation for how fantastic his career has been.

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I think the biggest thing working against Marc Fleury the player is that he’s a normal, happy human being. He understands that Hockey is just a game, and he likes to have fun. He has a better overall perspective on Life and the sport’s place within it, and it ends up undercutting him in a way as a competitor.

A lot of hockey players aren’t like this. I’m not like this. Sid Crosby isn’t like this, and Matt Murray isn’t like this. 

Based on what I’ve seen from Matt Murray, he has a huge chip on his shoulder. He quietly fumes, smoldering and never lacking for motivation. And I like that in a player, too. I think what fuels Matt Murray is being overlooked as a fourth-round pick and a relative afterthought. He’s spent his entire career taking jobs from pedigree guys like Marc Fleury, a former 1st Overall and foundation piece of the team. Again, full credit to Matt Murray for creating an opportunity for himself. I’m very glad he’s a Pittsburgh Penguin. 

I also can’t deny the evidence – the eye-test, as well as some of the advanced and traditional statistics – many of which indicate that the team plays significantly better in front of Matt Murray than Marc Fleury. I sometimes scream at the Pens’ defensemen for the apathy they appear to show, watching mouths agape after firing a perfect one-time pass in the slot to an opposing forward for an easy goal.

For whatever reason, the team often plays to the tune of Ringling Brothers music when Marc is in net, yet they look like a sure-fire bet to repeat as 2017 Cup Champs in front of Matt Murray. I can’t fully explain it, but it’s certainly there. I don’t begrudge Matt Murray for taking the ball and running with it, and I think Mike Sullivan has handled a very difficult situation as well as he possibly could. But circumstances are forcing Jim Rutherford to make a very hard decision.

It’s possible, if not probable, that Marc-Andre will be traded by the time you read this. As I write this, the NHL Trade Deadline is looming, and the rumor mill is churning loudly. The situation is becoming untenable, as Flower is (understandably) antsy to play and Murray is entrenching himself into the team’s fabric. If a reasonable trade scenario presents itself, Jim Rutherford will probably pull the trigger. And Marc-Andre Fleury’s 14 years with the team will end overnight.

I have a dream scenario in which the Penguins repeat as Cup Champs in 2017, and Marc plays a pivotal role. And I don’t want that for me. I want that for Marc, because he’s been the ultimate good soldier. Short of that, I hope Marc gets dealt to a Western Conference contender, and I hope he has a chance to prove to both Penguins and NHL fans once-and-for-all that he’s an elite, generational NHL goaltender.

Time will tell. But whatever team employs Marc-Andre in the future will have a first-rate human being in their fold, and a dynamite goalie to boot. It’s disheartening that it’s not likely to be Pittsburgh.

This has been a long article, but Marc’s had a long career as a Pittsburgh Penguin, and too many people need to know how terrific he’s been for the organization on multiple levels. For his humor, his selflessness, his uniqueness, and his massive contributions to revitalizing the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury, the Flower, is my favorite goaltender, wherever he happens to play.