What you are going to discover today relates to your hockey goalie training, but I bet it's something you've never before considered. Let me start by giving you an example from another sport, and then we will bring it back to hockey.
What would you think if you saw a sprinter like Usain Bold sprinting toward the finish line with his chest down, folded at his hips rather than up tall and driving with his legs?
It wouldn't look right, would it?
Intuitively, you would know something was off. It would not be a strong position for what he was trying to do, and it would probably even look a little painful. It probably would feel a little painful.
Yet many goalies do the same thing. It robs them of power and leaves their hips vulnerable to injury.
This lesson in neutral pelvis came about after a hockey goalie training discussion with Thomas Magnusson, director of goaltending development for the Swedish Hockey Federation. He was talking about how fluid and balanced Montreal's Carey Price looks compared to other goalies.
He related it to his neutral pelvis.
If the pelvis is neutral, the lumbar spine will also be neutral, the hip sockets will be aligned to allow for optimum range of motion without impingement, and the muscles that cross the hip will be at their optimum length for producing force.
More power with less wear and tear—that sounds like a winning proposition, doesn't it?
So how do you address this with your off-ice hockey goalie training workouts? It's simple, but it requires a lot of concentration. Your first step is finding a neutral pelvis.
Neutral pelvis from supine position
- Lie on your back with your legs straight.
- Find your two hip bones at the front of your pelvis just below your waistline and the bony part on the front of your pelvis.
- Tilt your pelvis forward and back until those three points are level with one another.
- This is neutral, although it will probably feel like you have your butt tucked under you a bit. Take a mental snapshot of this position, because you will need to be able to find it while kneeling and standing.
Neutral pelvis in ready position
- Once you have found neutral pelvis in a supine position, do the same thing while standing. Grab a broomstick or hockey stick and place it along your spine from your tailbone all the way up to the back of your head.
- Pivot forward from the hips into a ready stance while maintaining your back position relative to the stick; this will be hard to do.
- This is your neutral ready position. Of course, you can lift your head up to see the play, but this is where your pelvis and back should be.
- Now find that same position from a knee down or butterfly position; lock in on how it feels. Try moving from your butterfly to your standing ready position without losing that pelvic alignment.
Once you have mastered that, try some movement drills like a simple hop from one foot to the other, landing with a neutral pelvis.
For many of you, the concentration required to make this a part of your game like Carey Price will be too much. You'll try it a time or two and then abandon it in favour of what you have always done.
But let me stress the importance. Would you ever see a Formula One car start a race with its wheels out of alignment? Never. The wear and tear would destroy the car's bearings in no time—in fact it might lose a wheel altogether.
Although it is a little more subtle in goalies—we have never seen a goalie's leg blow off because he wasn't in neutral pelvis—but the wear and tear over time can be devastating.
So take the time to include some of this practice into your off-ice goalie training, then try to work it into your on-ice practice. It's a small thing but it can have a huge impact.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock