The Fortis Complete Athlete program for hockey players is new and innovative. It is designed around what is best and most needed for athletes at every level. Because this program is new and goes so much against the conventional training models used today by most youth hockey athletes, many parents have questions. Why so much time spent off the ice? Why is there such an emphasis on building athleticism in the gym? Don’t players need more games and competition to improve?
The fundamental principle behind our training program is the desire to focus solely and relentlessly on age-appropriate development. Instead of practicing tactics, we opt for enhancing edge work and stride mechanics. Rather than playing games every weekend, we find training returns are higher if players just stickhandle for 30 minutes in their garages. If we take all of the highest return training methods and then just do them, what happens? If we forget about the distractions and focus entirely on the substance, what happens? If we do the hard stuff – sprints at the local track to build speed, plyometrics in the gym, core training – and do so in a consistent, organized, and progressive fashion, what happens?
Build athleticism first, then capitalize on gains there with deliberate and focused on-ice training. Take a player that doesn’t skate low enough (95% of you out there). With the current model, he plays games and practices all year during which he gets almost zero or absolute no skating correction. If anything, he gets worse because of long-term fatigue. After the season this athlete then goes and plays more games!! Why!? He can’t even skate low enough, has no idea how to use his edges, etc. With the Fortis Complete Athlete program, we focus first on developing leg strength in the gym, building up the muscles that an athlete will use on the ice. Then when we skate we focus on improving edges and stride form. Can you see the difference?
The major problem with training today is not a lack of options, but players doing a lot of training poorly and without a cohesive training plan. If you sign up for a stickhandling clinic, but rarely show up, you won’t see much improvement, if at all. Then when you sign up for four different programs – a league, a local gym, a clinic, and private skating coach – but do not make these programs cohesive, training returns are sub-optimal. As an example, if a skater needs to get faster they need to do speed training (sprints, plyometrics, and strength). This is exhaustive work and requires attention to recovery. You will NOT benefit from it if you do too much. Our program puts it all together and our coaches help guide and advise parents on what, if any, outside training makes sense.
We provide players with training packets to use at home. But my kid will never stickhandle on his own! They are too lazy, you might say! Hey, you’d probably be too lazy as well if you had to skate 15 hours a week, play 5 games in a weekend, and still try to get your school work and other obligations done. Parents that participated in our first year of this program commented on how their kids were able to stickhandle because they had the time.
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