The Role and Specialization of the Movement Coach in the National Hockey League
The Movement Coach is a term that has permeated the world of professional sport over the course of the past several years; this type of coach does not observe and analyze team tactics, or the X’s and O’s. In fact, he or she studies and breaks down the movement biomechanics of the individual skater. It is the finesse of efficient footwork, which separates the mediocre player, from the player who has attained the highest echelons of athleticism. While skill coaches are not a new trend in the National Hockey League, it is the Movement Coach that specifically focuses on developing and enhancing skating movement skills to a degree of absolute precision.
Working in coordination with the team coaches, and the strength and conditioning staff, the Movement Coach searches for efficiency in movement patterns, allowing athletes to produce more while expending less. With professional athletes becoming bigger, faster, and stronger at such an exponential rate of development (the PyeonChang Olympic Games are an excellent demonstration of this), one can attest to how the role of the Movement Coach has never been more critical than today. When the objective is pursuing a competitive advantage for a professional athlete to attain over his or her opponent, milliseconds can become monumental (and even mean millions).
Hockey, traditionally, has been regarded by many within the realm of professional sport, as the last to adopt new training methodologies and embrace advancements in technology. While the tide has indeed shifted over the course of the past decade, there remains considerable room for improvement. At Apex Skating, the principal role of the Skating Movement Specialist is to ascertain the most fundamental vital areas for optimization in skating efficiency within the Client. Deficiency in skating technique may be due to an asymmetric motor learning of a specific movement, and the subsequent ingraining of a neuromuscular compensation pattern. There could also be physical and physiological limitations such as a lack of joint stability, or mobility, that generate structural compensations. Possessing a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and movement biomechanics are paramount in disseminating the precise area for development in the skater. Our Movement Coaches also work alongside strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, and even medical and healthcare practitioners, to share quantifiable data and biometrics that can lend their way beyond just athletic performance development - but injury rehabilitation and also injury prevention.
While the keen eye and knowledge of a Movement Coach are powerful tools to optimize efficiency and symmetry in technical skating ability, insightful physiological biomarkers can be obtained, observed and collected on the athlete’s natural field of play - the ice. Apex Skating uses technologies such as High-Speed Video, and 3D Motion Capture to collect both quantifiable biomechanical data analytics and objective observations to help guide the creation of an individualized and periodized progression model. Our methodology also accounts for on-ice training volume in accordance with a player’s off-season strength and conditioning protocol and integrates functional mobility work to optimize the Client’s on-ice performance. Furthermore, data sets are shared with medical and healthcare practitioners, for an even more in-depth and comprehensive analysis.
By optimizing efficiency in the skater with the mastery of proper movement patterning using the guidance of a qualified Movement Coach, their natural talents, and real potential, will rise To The Top.