ATHLETIC CONSULTING TRAINING REPORT -
1 - An Interview with
the Strength Coach for the Montreal Canadiens
It is fitting that Issue #99 should feature
a hockey-related article. Scott Livingston is the Strength
and Conditioning Coach for the Montreal Canadiens and is
extremely knowledgeable in training and rehabbing athletes,
particularly hockey players. Scott is also to be commended
for his promotion of Strength and Conditioning for hockey
- he has helped a lot of other great coaches in the business.
CB: Hi Scott and thanks for the interview.
What in your professional and educational background prepared
you for your job as a Strength Coach in the NHL?
SL: I have a BSc. in Exercise Science, specialization
in Athletic Therapy. I certified as an AT (Athletic Therapist)
in 1988 and certified with the NSCA as a S+C Specialist
in 1990. I worked as both an AT and S+C coach in varsity
athletics for nine years at the University level, and then
entered the NHL in 1998 with the NY Islanders.
CB: That is a great combination. So what
are the most common injuries that you have to deal with
SL: Lower quadrant injuries are the most common
in hockey, predominantly knee sprains, adductor strains,
sometimes abdominal wall tears. In the upper quadrant, shoulder
injuries and wrist injuries are the most common, usually
impact related as in sprains and dislocations.
CB: Our goal as strength and conditioning
professionals is to help avoid injury. So what injuries
are related to a lack of strength and conditioning and what
injuries are more of a result from the game?
SL: I think a case can be made that they all
have some relationship to fitness. If an athlete is fatigued,
his balance and reaction time may be reduced, leaving him
open to injury in the later stages of a game or the season.
Certainly muscle injuries can occur because of strength
decrements, but I would say that the majority of them occur
due to strength imbalances and flexibility imbalances caused
by handedness, previous injuries, or improper training protocols
CB: Okay, now what strength and conditioning
practices can you recommend to the readers to help them
avoid hockey injuries?
SL: I would say that the best piece of advice
to any athlete is to build a balanced body. Too many athletes
concentrate on increasing performance numbers without paying
attention to the imbalances they may be creating in their
bodies. For example, concentrating on pushing a big bench
number for pre-season testing causes the development of
a protracted shoulder girdle, which leads to possible impingement
syndromes, or worse shoulder instability. This is just an
example of a myriad of imbalances that are created simply
by poor training protocols.
CB: Let's talk about proper training protocols.
How long should an off-season program be? How many sessions
should an athlete train each week?
SL: I guess the answer to this is "as long
as you have available". It's difficult to limit it since
we don't always know when the athlete will finish playing.
I like to give my guys 2-3 weeks of active rest, and then
get things going with a general conditioning phase that
gets them back into training. I like a work week philosophy,
Monday to Friday training, two days off for recovery and
family or personal life. The two-day rest really allows
for adequate recovery to occur and solid training sessions
during the week.
CB: Getting back to injury avoidance,
are there any training methods that you would like players
and athletes to avoid in the off-season?
SL: I actually think that in hockey max load,
low repetition training is over-rated. I am also not a big
fan of the big football lifts like the Bench, Squat, Deadlift,
Military press, or even a power clean or snatch. I am more
of a believer in movements that isolate the limbs, stimulate
the core, require flexibility (without compromise), and
eventually stimulate balance.
Heavy lifting is highly overrated in hockey
as there is a limited relationship between what you squat,
clean, or bench, and how fast, agile, or explosive you are
on the ice. Hockey is a skills game and it requires a great
deal of flexibility, core strength, balance and single limb
strength. A greater focus should be placed on dissociation
of the upper and lower body (trunk flexibility through rotation)
and strength through rotation, single limb flexibility and
strength, and balance. And then these properties should
be shifted into power oriented exercise like plyometrics
and medicine ball training.
CB: Before you even provide off-season
training programs, what tests and exercises do you use for
pre-season assessments of athletes?
SL: I like to do a movement screen examination
on athletes who have had previous injury history. We don't
always have time to do every athlete, but when we can, this
type of evaluation can lead us to significant imbalances
that need to be addressed during the season. More importantly
we screen all those athletes that have had recurrent injuries
during a season, at the end of the season and recommend
exercises to address these during their off-season program.
I am a big fan of on-ice testing and have been working for
the past few years to get a coach to do this at the start
of the year. This coming season may be the first in which
CB: What is your general approach to in-season
training for a healthy player?
SL: Generally I am an advocate of high volume,
low intensity training, full body programs that focus on
the condition of the core. I give veteran players the latitude
to train as they see fit, as long as they are keeping up
with some type of regular program. Rookies follow programs
given by me and generally train two times a week. There
just isn't enough time to do much more that this and there
just isn't enough energy from the athlete in an 82 game
CB: Any final tips on athletic preparation
or rehab that you would like to add?
SL: Build from the core outwards, focus on
flexibility, and don't forget to train all the conditioning
components of hockey fitness.
CB: Thanks Scott for that refreshing look
at training athletes. Good luck in the off-season with your
- Fat Loss Stuff
The goal of each CB newsletter is to address
the varied interests of all readers. That is tough to do,
having doctors, physiologists, coaches, athletes, fitness
enthusiasts, and executives all on the same list. So each
newsletter will have 2 parts, 1 focusing on athletic development
and the other focusing on fat loss and muscle gain. This
issue's fat loss info comes from research out of the Journal
of the American Medical Association.
In a shocking discovery, researchers from
Harvard found that, "sedentary behaviors, especially TV
watching, were associated with significantly elevated risk
of obesity and type 2 diabetes, whereas even light to moderate
activity was associated with substantially lower risk."
In contrast, every hour per day spent walking
briskly was associated with a significant reduction in obesity
and diabetes. The researchers suggested that reductions
in obesity and diabetes could be achieved "by adopting a
relatively active lifestyle.
The minimum requirements for a "relatively
active lifestyle" are:
- no more than 10 h/wk of TV watching
- at least 30 min/d of brisk walking
Hu, F., et al Television watching and other
sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type
2 diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA 289: 1785-1791, 2003.
The next study should be of great interest
to any reader whose goal it is to lose weight and who has
used message boards as a source of "on-line support". In
the study, overweight persons were given a weight loss program
via the Internet. One group of subjects also received e-mail
counseling. These subjects submitted information on their
eating and exercise habits and then received feedback from
After 12 months, the group that received the
weight loss program and the e-mail counseling lost more
weight, body fat, and inches from their waists. The authors
concluded that, "Adding e-mail counseling to a basic Internet
weight loss intervention program significantly improved
weight loss in adults at risk of diabetes."
This set-up sounds similar to the Men's Health
"Belly-off" message board (www.menshealth.com).
Note: the Men's Health message board enlists the services
of a registered dietician - not all Internet message boards
do the same.
Tate, D., et al. Effects of internet behavioral
counseling on weight loss in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes:
a randomized trial. JAMA 289: 1833-1836, 2003.
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The information on cbathletics.com is for
education purposes only. It is not medical advice and is
not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care
professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or
making changes in your diet or exercise program, for diagnosis
and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding
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