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DEVELOPING BETTER ATHLETES ONE STRIDE AT A TIME

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs goes tonight with the Boston Bruins heading back to Vancouver to face the Canucks. At this point in the season, every cliche in the book has been used by both teams including some of my favorites:

"It's the last game of the season. Can't hold anything back now."

"We just have to take it one shift at a time"

and finally.....

"We just have to put more pucks in the back of their net then they put in the back of ours"

I am willing to bet there is a lot more than a few old fashioned hockey cliches that is going to determine the winner of the game tonight. Here are a few additional things that great athlete's are able to do to help them perform better in Game 7:

1. Sports Psychology - A good athlete will be able to incoorperate the skills they have learned off the ice in order to perform better on the ice (ie. goal setting, confidence, concentration, visualization, etc.) Here is a link for information on Sport Psychology:

http://www.rivervalleycounselling.ca/Site/Welcome.html

2. Strength and Conditioning - At this point in the season Vancouver will be playing in their 105th game and Boston will be playing in their 107th game. The work that the players have put into their off season strength and conditioning programs as well as their ability to maintain muscle mass in season will play a crucial role in determining what is left in the tank. Here is a link for more information on Strength and Conditioning:

http://www.premierstrength.com/

3. Recovery and Nutrition - Rest and recovery is one of the most important aspects of any athlete whether they are in the peak of their competitive season or in the off season. Our bodies need time to repair damaged muscle tissues and need the proper nutrients to do so in an appropriate time frame. Here is a link for more information in Nutrition:

http://www.balancenutrition.ca

4. Biomechanics - It is important that athlete's perform at the most effecient level possible at this point in the season. Athlete's who expend too much energy during the small, less signficant plays of the game often times will not have the extra gear when it matters the most. Athlete's need to know that they are skating in a powerful, efficient position which enables them to get that extra gear when they need it. It is also important that athlete's have trained the appropriate motor patterns in order to make these movement reactive and not anticipatory.

Reactive movements are movements which will occur automatically when the athlete needs them to (ie. planting the support skate with 90 degrees of knee flexion) whereas anticipatory movements are those which the athlete has to think about prior to the movement occuring. At this stage of the year, the athlete must have all technical aspects occuring reactively in order to focus on the tactical aspect of the game (ie. defensive positioning, finding soft areas on the ice, etc.). With all this being said, each athlete will rely on a combination of skills in order to get them through the game and those athletes who are able to combine all of these skills are more likely to be succesful.

Brian Shackel, MSc, B.E.S.S., FMS, MES
Founder - Making Stridz Athlete Development