Posts Tagged ‘Training’

There’s a common conception among people that hockey players are wild party animals. To an extent we are. You might’ve heard the stories of the Bruins’ epic Stanley Cup party bar tap, or other legendary tales from within the game. Or just recently how the NHL has a rising number of players allegedly using cocaine. For me, having a good time is part of the game, but for me, the parties are more or less a thing of the past.  Boring old fart? Let me explain this

I’m not saying I’m teetotal, or that I don’t drink at all during the season. I usually have a beer after the game in the pub, but I very rarely get to a stage where I would be classed as drunk. For me, hockey is about setting guidelines and being disciplined in your day-to-day life, both in-season and off-season. Perhaps that is what fascinates me in the game so much – the personal discipline that is required. I usually schedule four times into the year when I allow myself to let loose a little bit; Cup Final (providing we win), Conference championship, Play-off championship (Providing we win) and end of season party. Last season I let loose three times out of the four. Anything else to me is excess and one thing I’m trying to cut out is excess. Of any kind. If we don’t achieve any of the big wins, then there’s no partying either. 

I’m all for blowing out a little steam. We all need to do it and it is a very human thing to do. Some people like to go out, some people like to relax at home, go to the cinema and so forth. For me, going out during the season, or the reason why I go out so rarely is a conscious decision that has reasons behind it.  

blog1The first one is that if I go out, I know I will miss a workout that I have scheduled for that day and invariably, the day after will be a total write off too. If we didn’t take into account the above criterion when I allow myself to let loose and assuming that you go out every week it would mean that I would miss 104 workouts per year. That is 104 chances of making yourself a better player and a better person through hard work. In those 104 days, someone else will be pounding the streets and lifting the weight that I should be lifting to get better, stronger and faster. I would cheat myself and my team if I allowed myself to slack that much during the year.

Second reason is that I enjoy having clarity of thought. When I was straight edge, it was one of the things that I really enjoyed was that my thinking wasn’t cloudy (or impaired) and that I could rationalise all my actions to myself and be accountable for what I did and didn’t do. Now, if I for some reason skip a workout, that is on me and trust me, it will eat away at me like it does when we lose a game. No matter how well I reason the decision to myself, be it an injury or if I just need to sleep. Being hungover or drunk is a piss poor excuse to me. Sure you could train hungover, but the quality of your work output would be so diminished you might as well not do it.

Thirdly, like I mentioned, I’m trying to cut out excess and drinking would – in my mind – ruin the work that I have already done Blog2during the week. Hangover is a state, where effectively, your body eats itself as it is trying to get rid of all the toxins. That’s not to say that I only eat kale and that my body is chiselled from stone. Far fucking from it. I’m a human being, not an antique Greek god statue.

Fourth reason being – and I’m going to be showing my age here – I just do not see the point of going out. When I was a teenager and through university, I partied… I partied hard. I think I got all the ‘crazy’ out of my system.


Photo courtesy of Flyfifer Photography.

Fifth reason is that I simply cannot cope with my hangovers. They are brutal and they last for days. After the end of season party, it took me three days to feel ‘normal’ again.

Hockey is a sport where nothing is given to you. You need to take everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. You need to be able to take possession of the puck by checking opponents, you need to create space for yourself and your line mates, you need to be able to take space away from opponents, you need to take your place in the roster and so on. The only way to do that is to be in good enough condition strength and fitness wise that you are able to take everything that is needed. Nothing is given to you and it is therefore so important that you are able to put in the work off the ice, so that life on the ice is that much easier.

This is in no way saying that everyone should adhere to my school of thought. Because that is what it is. It is my school of thought and I’m not going to be pressing my views on anyone else to say that “this is the way you should do things”. I’m not judging guys who go out (except if they turn up drunk or hungover for a game). It is a way that works for me and what I have found gives me the greatest focus. It is frustrating as hell sometimes and there are times that I just want to grab the bottle and drink it all away, but then, I tell myself that I’m being a fucking idiot.

Your shelf life as an athlete – and especially as a hockey player – is limited. Your career could end every time you step on the ice. The way I look at it, I want to enjoy every minute of the game and when – inevitably – the time comes to walk away from the game, I can look back and look at myself in the mirror that I did everything I could. I pushed myself above and beyond my limits and I left it all on the ice. No compromises.

I only wish that I would’ve realised all of this when I was younger, but I am happy that I HAVE realised it. This journey in hockey, fitness and self discovery has been truly amazing and long may it continue.

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Monkey Nutrition was a relatively unknown commodity to me. I had not heard of the company before and hadn’t seen it on the shelves of the typical supplement stores you might expect to find on the high-street.

About the product:

The product I have been testing is Monkey Nutrition’s Moodulator. It has been designed to calm pre-event, or in our case, pre-game jitters. Usually, in a hockey situation, the pre-game jitters are a good thing and can be used for extra energy and adrenaline on the ice, but there are cases where they can get so bad that the jitters and the anxiety actually hampers your performance.

Moodulator contains natural ingredients, including Chamomile, calcium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. It comes in a capsule form and it is easily added to your morning supplementation/vitamin intake. I have been taking it in the mornings with our other supplements and our morning water in-take.

Side effects:

I did notice a slight side effect from taking the Moodulator, in that I experienced a very slight case of vertigo for about two days after taking the product, but this soon subsided and it wasn’t something that debilitated or affected day-to-day life.

Other than that, there were no negative side effects from taking the product.


After about a week or so of taking the product, I noticed that our sleeping patterns were getting more pronounced and the quality of sleep was a lot better and deeper, which was a positive sign as rest was in a key role during the test.

Moodulator has been effective in calming nerves both in a semi-professional athlete life as in life at home. The product has been more than beneficial to personal life as well. My mood has been calmer at home and in the office and I have found additional confidence in all aspects of day-to-day life. It has also effectively reduce other anxieties, apart from sports related anxieties.


Overall, I have been positively impressed with the results of the Moodulator. I have been more relaxed at training and on the ice and have not experienced pre-game jitters. Prior to trying Moodulator, during a big game, I was a complete nervous wreck, but after that I was able to exert myself better and not worry about nerves.

The Moodulator has had a positive impact on other aspects as well. As mentioned, sleeping patterns and sleep quality has gotten better and having woken up more energised in the mornings has been a positive. Additionally, the effects have been seen elsewhere. In an office environment the Moodulator has calmed nerves to the point where delivering presentations has not been affected and the confidence in speaking in-front of chief executives has felt natural.

At the gym, I haven’t noticed the Moodulator having much of an impact on weight lifting. This is down to the training programme I was undertaking during the review period. The programme was a maintenance one that also focussed on explosive strength for play-offs.  Also during this time I was rehabbing a sports related injury, so I wasn’t going after big lifts.


Moodulator does an effective job of calming any pre-game nerves. It is, however, recommended that you start using the supplement well before a competition for it to have an effect. I did experience slight vertigo at the start of using the product, but this subsided in a few days. It effectively calmed nerves for big games. Where the Moodulator has a positive impact on your mood as well, I would recommend that you do not use it to treat burgeoning symptoms of depression, if you suffer from those. Additionally the packaging states that you should not use the product if you are on anti-depressants or medication that treats Bipolar disorder.

I would recommend Moodulator to anyone who suffers from pre-event jitters and to those who are about to deliver a presentation or any other work related stressors that cause anxiety. So, if you are a hockey player who struggles with pre-game anxiety, I would recommend you try Moodulator as you will be positively impressed with the results. As long as you start taking it in advance of a game and not start it on a game day. As always, before embarking on any fitness journey and supplementation you are thinking of using, if in doubt, speak to your practitioner.

For more information about Monkey Nutrition and the Moodulator, check out

When we walked back to our locker room after a bitter one goal defeat, and with Queen’s “We are the Champions” blaring out to the Oxford City Stars team, there was somewhat of a sombre mood in the changing room.


However, as we shook hands and I was watching the Oxford team celebrate on the ice, I was taking that whole scene in and thinking that next year that would be us. Whilst Oxford were definitely deserving of the title this year, it didn’t change the fact that it was painful to watch them celebrate. It always is when you set your goal at the championship and not quite achieve it. BUT, no matter how painful it was, it served as fuel for the summer and for our remaining games.


The image of the team celebrating on the ice is  branded on to my mind and I will no doubt use it for energy and motivation this off-season to make sure that the hunger grows to go out for the title hunt once more next season. I’m sure that it will be helping me in the midst of deadlifts, squats, bench press and speed & agility training sessions.



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It’s bound to be a gruelling off season for sure, with new challenges in terms of time management in the family front. I will be making an announcement here shortly about a feature that will run throughout the summer about the off season work that I’m doing and the challenge I’ve set myself, but more about that later.

Hockey player A: “When does your season start?”

Hockey player B: “Mine starts on 15th of September.”


That is a conversation that you could hear between hockey players across the globe for the next couple of weeks.


Players usually answer it by giving the date of our first game, but the truth is, the season started much, much earlier.


Sure the first game is the first time the fans might see the team in proper competition and in a game that actually matters, but for a player the season doesn’t start there (or it shouldn’t start there).


“When does your season start?”


The more appropriate question would be “When did your season start?” Well mine started in late March after physio’s had confirmed I was fit enough to train after my car accident in January (sustained a small tear in my rotator cuff, suffered from whiplash and concussion). I remember having started my off-season workouts the week before our official season ending party.


Since then it has been constant work, trying to figure out ways to make myself a faster, stronger and better player and executing those plans to the best of my ability. This might sound corny, but the start to the hockey season has been fun. For the first time in four years I have been able to train hard and stay healthy throughout. I have not had to heal too many injuries carried on from the end of the season (apart from the car accident) and I did not pick up any new ones during the training. Also a good sign was that neurologists gave me a clean bill of health.


It may sound cliché, but in many ways, getting to game play and playing is the easy part of the sport. It is everything else that is demanding. I’m not saying that the games are a breeze, because they’re not, but in many ways the work that has been done makes them easier. Playing and being on the ice is the fun part of hockey, but to be able to play at a competitive level and ensure you can outskate the opponent, you need to put in the work that is not as fun. As a coach once told me “hockey is similar to an (office) career. You want to get ahead in your career and you work hard to achieve those objectives. Hockey is no different.”


The off season has asked a lot, but it has given a lot back. I feel fitter, healthier and mentally stronger. There’s just something in running on a cold April morning in the rain that gives you a certain amount of grit. Or the fact that despite being on the verge of throwing up and deciding that another 100m sprint with a speed chute is “not a big deal”.


Now on the ice, it’s been a bit different. It’s been getting used to proper drills again from summer league shinny. It’s been about finding your feet and sorting out how all the work you did translates to the ice and to your skating. One thing I have noticed is that no matter how much you do off the ice in terms of strength and other conditioning exercises, there’s nothing quite like skating. The motion is different, and the muscles are used in a different way.

But at least there’s time till the first game to work all that out and get game-ready.

For a fan it’s a bit different. There’s the anticipation of news of player signings, what the team is going to look like, discussions around the water cooler about who will win the championship this year, who are the teams and players to look out for and sorting out the social life around the hockey schedule (Though the last applies to players as well).


When did your season start?

2 months have flown past and June is almost here. The world championships have been and gone and Stanley Cup is closing in on the final series, if the Rangers and Devils could decide which is the better team, but looks like that will be a 7 game series too.


End of April/May has been somewhat of a downer month in terms of off-season training and preparation. I don’t feel I had as good of a month as I did previously and where my weight and everything shifted for the better, I still don’t feel that I got everything out of myself and the program I was on. I didn’t get to go out to eat the miles off the road as frequently and I felt static. Then of course I had that damned virus wreaking havoc, which made me feel really lethargic and I probably missed a good few weeks of proper intensive training.


The good thing that came out of it is that I had my first skate since our last game of the season and my legs felt better than they have done in a while, which is good news when thinking ahead to the start of the season. Just need to keep at it and keep pushing on the plyometrics front to make sure that I increase my foot-speed and agility.


The one thing that I think I still struggle with is the diet. I don’t mean that I follow an un-healthy life style, though there are times when I do indulge myself, but that is a rare occasion. What I mean is that where I watch what I eat and everything, I feel that I am not eating the right things at the right time. It’s a tricky balancing act between getting your proteins and carbs and everything to make sure you optimise your body for peak performance. As a science it is quite interesting, but on the execution front it can get frustrating. The one thing that I am desperate to get rid of is the excess sugar, but yeah. I’ll let you know how that battle goes.


Also, if you wouldn’t mind doing me a huge favour. If you have Facebook, could you add as a friend and once your request has been accepted go click ‘Like’ on this following link:


Much appreciated.

This off season/pre season has been different from others that I’ve had, for many reasons. I don’t think that ever during my career my body (and mind) were so beat from the season. The mind pretty much due to the concussion rather than the mental strain from the season.


So for the first time in my life I was faced with a wholly new challenge. My hip was in a pretty bad shape, my head was a total mess and I was tired. Pretty much from finishing the last game of the season I knew that the summer was going to be far from easy, but then again, hockey doesn’t really give you a long summer holiday.


I think I gave myself about a week off from the ice and then started to hit the gym. While it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do with the ongoing concussion symptoms, I needed to do something. Running made my head feel worse and the doctors said that I was OK to do light weights and go easy. Too bad I have a different idea of going easy to the doctors.


So I was able to train really hard through April and I thought that I had overcome the concussion issues. My body started to feel better and I felt stronger physically, but I was still hitting a wall. I was helping out at one of my wife’s trainings on the ice and I was doing a regular skating drill we did throughout the season. I was probably going at about 60% and I just literally didn’t know what the hell was going on. I went pale, blacked out and almost passed out. From skating at about 60%.


This then lead to heated debates and arguments about what I should and shouldn’t be doing and being a bone head I told everyone to STFU and let me decide what’s best for me. As a compromise I agreed to take a week out of training to give myself some extra time to re-coup.


If you follow me on twitter, or are unlucky to have me as a friend on Facebook, you know what happened to me on my first run after I resumed training. I was about 800meters from the office and I was doing a visualisation and mental exercises while running. I was so focussed that I didn’t see a pothole and I ran into it and twisted my ankle…. BAD! Where the ankle hurt for a few days, I was back at the gym lifting weights and on the bike 3 days after I hurt it. My thinking being, if I focus on exercises where there’s no risk of the ankle buckling or giving way, I’ll be OK.


The other issue I dealt with was the hip, which I mentioned at the start. As soon as the season had finished I entered into a rigorous physio therapy programme with Matthew Radcliffe, who is a the head physio for Southampton FC. Matt did a great job with me and seriously put me through the paces. I don’t think that I’ve ever worked so hard at physio, which I enjoyed as it was actually doing functional stuff that I knew would help and it kept me interested as I felt like I was actually having a workout.


The physio for the hip has worked as the times I’ve been on the ice, I’ve been skating pain free, which has shown me how much fun it can be. I was officially discharged from the hip physio and where I’m happy to know that I’ve been discharged and fit, I still have to do continuous exercises to ensure that the hip doesn’t flare up, that combined with a new pre-activation session.


Additionally, I’ve also been discharged from the ankle physio, which effectively brings to an end a regime of physio therapy that started in April. I think this summer I’ve been in physio for a longer period of time than ever before.


On the other hand though, my gym workouts have gone so well that I am actually feeling really good about the shape I am in and it is a definite step up compared to where I was starting from at the start of last season. Maybe more importantly the off season training has taught me more about mental toughness and discipline than anything else. I feel like the work I’ve put in, both in training and in physiotherapy has made me a stronger person and helped me to examine the game from a entirely new point of view. Despite the off ice training being hard and difficult at times, I have actually had fun doing it and I’m actually smiling at the gym, the same can be said of the times that I have been on the ice. Hockey is definitely fun again, which is something that I’ve missed among all the injuries I suffered with.


As for last season, well it is just that, it’s last season. I will take lessons from it, but for now my eyes are fixed on the 2011-2012 campaign. I think the most important lessons I have learnt this off season are those of patience, hard(er) work and trying out new things. I feel that I’m mentally stronger and I feel that I’ll be able to have fun instead of whitekncuckle the stick. There’s 6 days till we take to the ice as a team again, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing some of the guys I’ve not seen over the summer.


I can’t come up with a better ending to this than what a Finnish hockey journalist Jari Mesikammen (aka Karhuherra on twitter) said in his recent column: Forget about summer, drop the puck already!

It has been a while since I updated anything on the blog, so I thought that a quickie would be in order. Despite still spending time off the ice, I’m feeling really good. My off ice training is going well and I’m getting consistent good workouts in and I find that I am pushing myself to lift more weight, which is encouraging. As I come to complete the first month of the regime, I’m going to start adding more into the workouts and routines. At the start of May, I’ll be adding cardio and plyometric work into the mix. Hopefully it will pay dividends when I’m allowed to get back on the ice and resume full contact training.

I’ve also been doing a lot of physio work and my physio, Matt Radcliffe has been putting me through the paces. He’s definitely one of the better physiotherapists I’ve had the pleasure to work with. It’s been painful but I can feel that it is working so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will not have to have my hip operated on.

The concussion related problems still bug me though. I still get head-aches and I suffer from concentration problems, which is a bit irritating. Additionally I seem to have memory lapses. Like the other week I successfully tied one bow on a sofa bed and went to do the next and did not know how to do it. I’ve been referred to a neurologist for further exams and hopefully a CT scan. I’m not worried that the scans or exams would reveal anything major, but you know, it’s more for my own peace of mind than anything and I guess to my family’s peace of mind as well.

I’ve also started hammering pucks at the net in our back-yard. The only trouble is that I don’t dare shoot top shelf after a few pucks pinged off the cross bar and ricocheted to our neighbours yard, nearly hitting them as they lay on the lawn tanning.

Needless to say, though it’s only been a month into my off-season training, I’ve been encouraged and I’m hoping I can carry the form throughout the summer.

One of the biggest questions I get asked (relating to the concussion) on Facebook and by friends is that whether the ongoing issues mean that I will be hanging up the skates. The answer is no, I won’t be. Aside from the concussion, I feel great and I think after the few weeks rest and ongoing physio the body is starting to feel good as well. I’ve got an itch to get back out on the ice, which is a good sign and you know what, I enjoy playing so there’s no reason to give it up. As long as I’m having fun with hockey I don’t see a reason why I should consider hanging up the skates.

There’s no denying that this concussion has been worse than any before and recovery has been slow, but it’s another bump in the road that I hope to leave behind soon enough.

P.S. Go Habs Go!