Sanford POWER Hockey Academy has become an increasingly popular choice for those who want to get better at the sport.
The word got around that the Sanford POWER Academy in Bismarck, North Dakota, was turning kids into better hockey players.
Plan of attack
Sanford POWER has hockey treadmills at its facilities in Bismarck, Fargo and Bemidji, while providing expertise for all levels of players.
It also serves flourishing youth programs in Sioux Falls, where Sanford works with Sioux Falls POWER hockey, a Tier AAA program for ages 14-18 that attracts elite-level players from all over the country, and the Sioux Falls Flyers, a youth and high school-aged program with local boys and girls teams.
The plan of attack is essentially the same, regardless of the level of play. That is, help the athletes remain physically resilient while making them more athletic.
“Our main priority is to help reduce the likelihood of injuries,” said Brad Rilling, lead certified strength and conditioning specialist for Sanford POWER in Sioux Falls. “That comes through all facets of exercise and includes strength, mobility, flexibility, conditioning and power development. We want to integrate those elements into a program that help them stay healthy. If you’re injured, obviously, you can’t play hockey.”
A typical hockey training session would help athletes in any sport. In this case, that means a focus on developing leg strength. As that foundation of training applies specifically to hockey, Sanford POWER incorporates plans based on both the activity and the individual.
“We look at the most common injuries in a sport like hockey,” Rilling said. “And then we design programs that really emphasize and strengthen those areas to both reduce the likelihood of injury and increase performance.”
Hockey points of emphasis
For hockey players, areas of emphasis include the hips, neck and shoulders. Because it is a contact sport, it’s difficult to prevent neck or shoulder injuries, though it is possible to help athletes build more body armor and make them more resilient.
“We’re always looking at keeping the hips healthy,” said Chase Lester, a Sanford Health certified strength and conditioning specialist in Fargo. “Another area is the neck. We look at ways to help absorb those hits and shocks and prevent some of the head injuries that might occur during a game.”
Developing lower body strength, power and speed is always going to be an emphasis on the ice. It is also one where hockey players participating in Sanford POWER often see their training make the most impact on their overall performance.
“We want power and explosion,” Lester said. “And we want it without getting injured.”
Better and stronger
Sanford POWER coaches have helped 10-year-olds become better hockey players and they have helped professionals do the same. Development is a process. Effective instruction, whether it is in technique work or in increasing strength and conditioning, is a matter of presenting valuable information in the ways hockey players can best use it at their present age and skill level.
A young hockey player will see what they need to get better at and begin the process of making it happen. When they see evidence of improvement, they start building a better hockey player.
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