Summer Fun Part 2: The Players
Aug 5, 2011
by Heather Ronaldson
In uniform, they are lean, mean, puck shootin’ machines. But in the off-season, the Admirals skate with a different agenda--one with less pasta and more downtime. At summer’s start, the players take off-season training tips back to their hometowns, as prescribed by Jason Nordby, the Admirals strength and conditioning coach.
For some, this means gaining back pounds lost during playoffs. For others, it’s scrimmaging with friends, or running local hockey camps.
Whatever their agenda, Admiral players find a training schedule that works for them until the middle of September, when training camp begins.
Players’ first major adjustment is to newfound downtime. Without the daily grind of practice and games during the summer, players learn the importance of recovery for their bodies.
“The first couple weeks you’re letting your body heal. You kind of go stir crazy, but it’s important to give yourself time off in the beginning of the summer,” Mark Van Guilder said.
With the downtime, Admirals can enjoy summer like regular people. Van Guilder expects to visit friends’ lake houses, Scott Ford tees up for a round of golf with his father in British Columbia and Jeremy Smith joined his family in seeing the latest Harry Potter movie.
In addition to the physical rest, the players give their mental game a rest. Instead of watching hours of game film, many become cheerleaders of their favorite teams, like Van Guilder, who faithfully follows the Minnesota Twins.
According to Smith, “the off-season is to get away from the rink and get your mind off hockey so that come the season, you’re not burnt out.”
Giving back to the community is another form of relief for players. Most reconnect with local hockey schools and summer camps. In Fort St. John, Canada, Ford runs a hockey school that he used to instruct at as a teen.
“It’s enjoyable to see the kids as they get older and progress,” Ford said.
Another major summer shift concerns eating habits. During playoffs, most players eat pasta nearly every night of the week as a quick source of energy. But off-season months are far less demanding, and far less forgiving on a waistline.
“During the season we’re burning so many calories that you can get away with cheat days, but during the summer, our diet is pretty stringent,” Ford said.
For Smith, this means replacing heavy carbohydrates with proteins, like hardboiled eggs.
Following a strict diet during the summer requires self-discipline—an attribute each Admiral taps into once their recovery period ends, and summer training begins.
During the off-season, players hit the gym five days a week, two hours a day to improve their position’s specialty areas. Some hire personal trainers, others work with professional players in the area.
As a defenseman, Ford works to improve total body strength, skating endurance and overall explosiveness. Smith on the other hand, requires flexibility and core strength as a goalie.
“Hot yoga really helps for positioning. It’s a hard workout,” Smith said.
No Admiral takes off-season training lightly. Each sees summer as an opportunity to maintain strengths, and improve weaknesses. Skating with other professionals, allows them to keep sharp and remember their goal—to play in the NHL.
“You can never become ok with yourself. You always have to be bettering yourself because there’s somebody behind you,” Smith said.
Come October, no fan can deny the hunger and intensity in each player’s eye. However Admirals spend their summer, we know they’re doing something right.