Peak Hockey Performance During a Long Road Trip

Long road trips can take their toll on a young athlete’s body and negatively effect on ice performance.  I have put together this simple list of do’s and don’ts, that if followed, will not only help minimize the negative effects of a long road trip but will set your player up for peak on ice performance and a successful tournament. 

  1. Water is Essential for High Performing Athletes. 

DO: Drink plenty of water throughout your trip. Not soda, not juice or Gatorade… just pure water.

DON’T: Limit fluid intake because you want to “make good time” and do not want to stop for excessive restroom breaks. 

As little as a 1% decrease in body water will significantly reduce cardiovascular capability regardless of how hard you’ve trained or how in shape you are. A 2% decrease in body water reduces muscular endurance so things like skating, shot power and the ability to win 1 on 1 battles will all be adversely affected. 

  • Just Drinking Water Isn’t Enough, Let’s Talk Snacks. 

DO: Pack a variety of healthy, nutritious snacks to eat throughout your trip. This will ensure your muscles are completely recovered and full of glycogen when you hit the ice. Eating healthy low glycemic foods will also help to maintain your electrolyte balance which is critical to proper fluid circulation throughout the body’s cells. 

DON’T: Do not pack high sugar/high sodium foods such has candy, cookies, chips, sugary drinks etc., all of these will zap your energy and strength. Failing to prepare and pack healthy snacks and opting instead to stop for fast food along the way is an equally bad decision. For the elite athlete, there really is no such thing as a “healthy choice” at a fast food restaurant. Just don’t do it!

Some examples of healthy snacks would include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and natural nut butters, avocado, natural low sugar jerky, turkey rollups, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, etc. Natural, non-processed, high protein, low glycemic foods are always going to be the smart choice for high level athletes. 

  • Don’t Just Sit There…

DO: Activate your muscles and increase circulation by contracting you muscles for 3 to 5 seconds 10 times for every hour you’re in the car. A series of light stretches can also be done for most body parts right from your car seat every hour as well. 

DON’T: Do not become completely inactive just because you are in the car for hours. This isn’t the time to binge on YouTube and Fortnite, it’s valuable time that can be spent focusing both your body and mind on playing your best hockey. 

Being inactive for hours on end will contribute to muscle soreness and tightness, slowing of the metabolism and energy systems and possible pooling of fluids and cellular waste throughout the body. Don’t be fooled, although it seems simple, executing these simple contractions and stretches consistently will drastically improve performance come game day. 

  • Low Tech Equipment for High Level Results. 

DO: Jumping rope for just 5 minutes is an easy and effective way to activate critical body systems responsible for peak hockey performance. Jumping rope warms and flushes your muscles, triggers hand eye coordination, and stimulates the body’s lymph system to prevent fluid buildup and retention.

DON’T: This isn’t a full dryland workout. This is a simple 5-minute exercise that can be done each time you stop to use the restroom, which should be often (because you’re drinking all your water to stay fully hydrated). If you make this too difficult or it takes too long you want to do it on every stop, and in this case, consistency is more important than duration or intensity. 

  • It’s Game Time!

DO: Once you arrive settle in as quickly as possible and get back to your normal eating and sleep schedule.  

DON’T: Your journey hasn’t ended; it’s just now beginning. Resist the urge to go out for pizza and other high fat meals, don’t hit the swimming pool and waste valuable energy and above all make sure you are in bed and asleep on time. 

FOR PARENTS: I know these strategies require a little preparation during an already hectic time and probably will add an extra bit of time to your trip. Ask yourself, would you rather drive 16 hours and have a sub-par performance all weekend or would you rather add an extra hour to your trip, execute all the strategies I’ve given you and put your child athlete in position to be the team MVP? 

Which will you choose? 

FOR PLAYERS: You’ve come this far, don’t blow it now. Be excited. Be focused. Be ready to compete at your highest level. Be ready to have the time of your life with your teammates, coaches, parents…and be ready to BRING HOME THAT BANNER!

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