As we get back on the ice and kick off the official start to the hockey season I like to focus on a movement that builds strength in the lower body from the glutes through the quads, right down to the stabilizers in the foot. On top of the lower body benefit, this movement requires a great deal of strength through the mid-section and postural muscles of the back which engages all aspects of the skating motion.
The bowler squat is a demanding single leg movement that involves a number of different variables and can be used from the novice to advanced levels. This movement requires the athlete to engage their mid-section in order to efficiently move the limbs about the core, which directly relates to the demands placed on the athlete during play. Here are a few cues to help you execute a single leg bowler squat:
- begin on one foot with opposite arm in the air
- bring the un-weighted leg behind the body
- hinge at the hips and knees to maintain a flat back
- reach the arm down and across the body as you sink into a squat
- bring the un-weighted foot behind the body to counterbalance
- keep the planted foot on the ground and chest proud throughout
This movement has a direct correlation to on-ice, specifically stride development, as it involves many of the same mechanics required to skate, shoot or check an opponent. The planted leg must maintain stability through the glutes in the hip for the lower body, while simultaneously firing the trunk muscles to stabilize the upper body. If these muscles are weak or not turned on, the movement will break down and, much like with hockey, the performance or efficiency of the movement will decrease.
Maintain good posture throughout the entire movement so the spine is in a neutral position (not bending like a turtle in the upper back or arching the low back extensively). Be sure to track the hip, knee, and ankle to align the lower body. Aim for full range of motion (as deep into the position as possible) however those with restrictions or limitations may have trouble getting into the end position. Work to getting to full range of motion without breaking back position or lower body alignment.
Mark Fitzgerald is the owner of Elite Training Systems in Whitby Ontario and has been in the field of strength and conditioning for over ten years. Mark is the Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Anaheim Ducks and is also the the training and nutritional consultant for the Ontario Hockey League, head of the Canadian Hockey League combines and lead training consultant for Under Armour Canada.