You Think You Can Balance
I believe there are two really great ways to quickly and noticeably improve balance and body awareness. One of the best ways to improve your balance is to utilize what's called a Slackline. A Slackline is a nylon webbing usually 1-2 inches in diameter that is strung between two trees or poles. It is much like tight rope walking except a Slackline has "slack" meaning it can bend side to side and up and down! Maybe you have seen some people in a park or at the beach walking on a Slackline. A big part of being a skilled hockey player is having great balance. The fastest and best way to make a huge leap in your balancing ability is to get on a Slackline. Even better it gets you outside for some training to enjoy a nice day outdoors.
The second way to greatly increase body awareness is standing or walking on your hands. Inverting yourself, especially while moving will create all kinds of new connections in your brain. It will increase coordination and vestibular functioning which is really great for hockey. The best way to start is simply putting your hands close up to a wall and throwing your heels up against the wall above you. As you improve you want to try standing without a wall in one place. Moving around is great too. Try walking on your hands or staying in one place as best as you can. It takes a lot of practice, but if you try it at least several times a week you will start to get it. Try to keep your legs straight and feet together above you. This exercise is also really great for shoulder stability which is extremely important for hockey!
Having better balance and body awareness has a huge list of benefits for hockey:
1. It will make you a better skater.
2. It will make you stronger on your skates allowing you to better protect the puck, body check and protect yourself from a body check.
3. It will make you stronger on your edges improving turning, stopping/starting and power.
4. It will greatly increase body awareness improving all other skills in the game.
5. This exercise will strengthen muscles you have probably never even noticed you had before and help you activate them.
6. It will give you a strong base to build strength from leveraging your strength training.
7. It will help prevent injuries and improve joint stabilization.
8. Most importantly it will improve body awareness increasing connections between the brain and nervous system increasing your response time and brain density.
*Slacklining and hand standing/walking are more advanced skills. While it may not be easy at first, it will become easy with practice! In time, I will be posting a series of videos to help teach you how to Slackline and hand stand/walk as well as show you exercises that will improve your game!