Throughout the summer, I’ll be talking about specific exercises that many of our hockey players perform throughout the year. Some of these exercises may be things you want to incorporate into your own training programs; make sure you talk to your doctor and an experienced trainer on how to best integrate them if you wish to do so.
The first exercise I’m going to talk about incorporates one of the most fundamental movements in sport: the squat. I’m not talking about loading up a barbell and putting it on your back to see how much you can squat. I’m referring to a BODYWEIGHT squat. Learning how to maintain great posture throughout a squatting motion requires balance, flexibility and coordination. I never have any athlete perform a loaded squat until they can properly perform several bodyweight squats with perfect technique.
Your feet must be flat on the ground throughout the movement, with toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out. The head and chest stay up as you load your legs by bending the knees and dropping the hips towards the floor. As the knees bend, they should bend in the same direction as the toes point; they should not bow in or bow out as your lower yourself into a loaded position.
You don’t need to go too low in the squat; I usually advise about a 90-degree angle of the knees is plenty. You should lower yourself into that position at a speed that lets your control the motion, pause briefly at the bottom, then rise again to a standing position.
Focus on your posture throughout the motion and work on technique. When you can master this, then you can progress to more advanced exercises for the legs.