It’s the Playoffs, Push ’em Hard – right?! Wrong.

In the competitive playoff phase, you should try not to introduce new things, new plays or unexplored concepts.

It was right down to the wire! Were we to advance to the regional play downs or not!? Suddenly, a loose puck jumped out into our passive forecheck on an errant pass attempt by their D-man and our top goal scorer picked up the turnover, walked in and buried it with a minute left in regulation! That night, the hockey gods smiled on us. We found a way to win and managed the “W.” We advance! We advance!

This newly found puck luck allowed us to make up for lost time after what seemed like a long, lethargic month of more downs than ups. Injuries, Covid outbreaks, weak practices and mostly satisfactory performances – we seemingly needed to ramp it up now that we had found success.

So is it time to cram, add practices and beef up our overall training schedule as we go into the next round? Our GM certainly believes we need to push the boys hard…


While the post-season adds a lot onto the plate of coaches, it should not equate to more training. In fact, by adding more practices (frequency), longer skates (duration) and greater repetitions and sets of drills (intensity), we are creating deleterious stress and a de-training effect on our players. The result is maladaptation, exhaustion and/or injury. Commonly, these issues occur as general and residual fatigue accumulates. Residual fatigue is characterized by the inability to fully recover and is the most cited cause of performance failure during a playoff season, especially if it extends into extra games, long series and incidental travel.

In the competitive playoff phase, you should try not to introduce new things, new plays or unexplored concepts . . .



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Malcolm Sutherland

Malcolm Sutherland is a coach, physical educator, sport pedagogist, and SME in sports development, sports safety and injury prevention. As an athlete and player safety expert Malcolm has developed prevention tools and a program to control serious injury in sport.

He is a Chartered Professional Coach holding designation with Coaches of Canada. In hockey specifically, Malcolm is now active as a sought after development coach working internationally and nationally. Malcolm has coached at every level from professional minor leagues, varsity as well as junior and AAA levels of minor hockey.

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