Golf and hockey have such a strong physical connection. It’s a great “transition” sport in the off-season.
(Previously published article has been updated)
By Christopher Costa
For those of you who follow my articles (thank you, by the way), you know that I often write about transition, be it in the gym, on the ice and in game situations. For those who are fairly new to CrossIceHockey.com, hopefully I can provide you with a new outlook on the game of golf.
We are already halfway through summer, with the start of the upcoming hockey season just around the corner. For most hockey players, that should mean you’re in the midst of your off-season training program (feel free to contact me if you haven’t started!). And something important to keep in mind in the hockey lifestyle is one word: golf.
Golf is a great “transition” sport to play during the off-season. It allows you to remove your mind from possibly one of the roughest seasons you may have experienced, or it could simply be a means of keeping your athleticism in peak form. Whatever the circumstance, golf has multiple benefits.
Time away from hockey gives you the opportunity to increase your mental preparedness for next season. Please don’t take that out of context; I’m not saying that you need to focus on next season right now, at least not from a mental standpoint. Actually, one of the best things you can do is force yourself to look beyond to the past. It is exactly that… the past. Golf can be a good breakaway from that. The game itself requires a magnitude of focus. (I’m not even talking about the realm of trying to fix your swing.) That attention to detail is a good thing. It sharpens our perception of focus.
From a strength and conditioning standpoint, there’s significant benefit to developing increased focus. Golf is highly biomechanical. Even the slightest change in posture, muscle activation, and movement mechanics can drastically affect your play. Learning to focus your energy can teach you as a hockey player to actively engage muscles, which can result in greater performance both on-ice and on-course.
Why is that important? Hockey players need to develop ways to utilize all available energy systems, in order to create the highest level of strength, power, speed and agility. This results in quicker, more explosive movement on the ice. It can change your game in three strides. Also, golf utilizes many of the same forceful actions as hockey. Golf requires a strong core and hip complex. Golfing great Ben Hogan said that hitting balls every day made him stronger, resulting in better performance.
Clearly, golf is not a replacement for a solid off-season training program, but it can facilitate movements that are conducive to increased performance for the up-coming season. As you train, golf can also provide a gauge to your performance enhancement. Sure, an increase in driving yardage could be related to mechanics, but if you are training correctly it could be an indication of increased maximum strength, combined with power.
When I speak of transition, I’m referring to finding ways to remain athletic, while also shifting the paradigm of off-ice training. Preparation for intense training also requires a high level of recovery. Golf is athletic, but not so physically demanding that your body is prevented from recovery. It’s actually counterintuitive to do nothing during the transition phase of your training. Cardiovascular levels drop considerably fast if you allow yourself to be inactive. Golf happens to be exactly that: a great way to remain active. And as you can see, golf and hockey are intertwined.
Forget about last season; it’s in the past. Focus on your mental state, and prepare your mind and body for the next season properly. Always remain active by focusing energy on your athleticism. Get on the range or course and focus on lowering your handicap. Your hockey game will be better for it.
Christopher Costa owns and operates Assist Performance, based in Philadelphia, Pa. aP takes strength & conditioning to the next level, and specializes in ice hockey and golf. He previously interned with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2013-2014 season. Chris is slated to spend some time this summer under the New York Islanders organization.
Over twenty-two years of ice hockey experience has allowed Chris to develop the talent, necessary education, and a forward thinking process that is sure to enhance athletic potential. For more information on golf and fitness, see this article on Golf Training at Sports Fitness Advisor.