The Importance of Active Recovery Between Training Phases

Active recovery is important for players to recover from a long, hard season and from hard off-season training.

Hockey players need to train hard in the off-season. But they cannot, and should not, train hard all the time. As was mentioned in a pervious article published in July, Training all Components of Fitness During Off-Season Conditioning, one the best methods of training is called a ‘Periodized Training Program.’ This means there are periods of training which focus on different aspects of fitness. The active recovery phase comes after each period of training to give the body and mind time to rest, recover, and get ready to train the next component of fitness.

I know we’re nearing mid-August and your training for this upcoming season is well underway, but stick with me here coaches, parents and players, you might learn a thing or two to help you and your athletes thrive.

What is Active Recovery?

Active recovery is when a player is still exercising, but at a much lower intensity and volume and he or she is actively resting or recovering. Active recovery lasts between 3 – 5 days depending on how hard the previous training phase was. And the “active” part of this phase is usually doing a completely different kind of exercise such as: yoga, riding a bike outside (road or mountain bike), pilates, body weight training, doing a walk-run work-out, stretching, or foam rolling.

Active recovery is important so an athlete can stay focused, prevent burn out overtraining, and feel refreshed going into the next phase of training. Active recovery is beneficial for an athletes’ muscles to rebuild and repair the microscopic tears in muscles that occur from training, which will enhance fitness.

Active Recovery After the Season

Even though we are into the final month of training in preparation for the hockey season, it is important to talk about the active recovery after a hockey season. For many hockey players, the hockey season ends in March or April. Considering training camps, evaluations, and try-outs can start in late-summer or the fall, it makes for a long season. Therefore, it is important for players to take between one – three weeks of an active recovery. Active recovery after the season is important for the following reasons:

  • Enhances recovery from nagging injuries.
  • Helps the mind recovery from a long and intense season.
  • Recovery from training/game induced muscle fatigue.
  • The athlete can do a form of training that is fun, such as mountain biking.
  • Prepares the mind and body for higher intensity and volume of training the rest of the off-season.

Active Recovery after each Training Phase

As mentioned above, players cannot, and should not, train hard all the time. High performance training requires dedicated phases of training, with periods of recovery and rest between the training phases.

Active recovery is important for players to recover from a long, hard season and from hard off-season training . . .



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Mike Bracko

Mike Bracko is a skating coach, skating researcher, strength & conditioning coach, and fitness educator. He holds a Doctorate degree in Exercise Science and Biomechanics and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach through the NSCA. He played hockey in the AJHL, BCHL and NCAA (University of Illinois-Chicago). He does skating clinics with 300–400 hockey players every year specializing in 1-on-1, small group, and team skating with male and female players ranging in age from 8 years old to pro players.  He is also the strength & conditioning coach for the USA Men’s Deaflympic hockey team.  [email protected]

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