Building good habits is crucial for young athletes looking to advance their athletic career. Warming up before a practice, game or training session is vital in ensuring the body is ready to compete at its highest level. Warm ups should start with basic movements - and they don’t necessarily need a lot of space or equipment. The first part of any proper warm up for hockey players is myofascial release or foam rolling.
Hockey skates are not the most comfortable things to have your feet in for a long period of time, as anyone who has spent time on a cold rink at 6am would tell you, so that’s why I recommend starting with the feet. This can be done with a number of different props including tennis ball, lacrosse ball or even a golf ball.
Start by removing your shoes and placing your ball of choice on the floor and gently rolling over every inch of your foot. Attempt to spend some time in the trouble areas, arches/behind toes/heel, as these typically will be more sensitive. Aim for 2-3 minutes per foot and look to gradually increase pressure and hopefully work up to a lacrosse ball.
Next we move on to the rest of the body with foam rolling. If you don’t have a foam roller check out treadmillfactory.ca or get creative and find something at home, pvc pipe/soccer ball, whatever it takes.
When rolling we want to start with the big muscle groups in the lower body (glutes/quads/hamstrings) as these will be where the majority of the soreness resides. Begin by advancing slowly over the roller, moving in a north/south fashion. If you find a sore spot you can simply pause over the spot and allow the roller to apply some pressure. This will hopefully diminish the discomfort. Now depending on the age of the athlete, athletes that have begun weight training will experience more soreness; the effectiveness and immediate feedback will differ. I typically recommend about 30-60 seconds for each muscle group, with more time on those sensitive areas. Combined with some time for rolling the feet, you’re looking at under ten minutes, which is really not a lot of time for a very beneficial habit, and as a bonus, both tools can easily fit inside a hockey bag.