It hasn’t been any secret since Rick Tocchet was named the Lightning’s head coach that his training camp is going to be tough and he expects players to show up in shape. Tampa Bay Strength and Conditioning Coach Chuck Lobe intends on making sure his new bench boss is not disappointed thanks to a new offseason training program.
Lobe spearheaded a comprehensive summer program for all players to make sure everyone is on the same page once training camp opens. The program, with input from the rest of the coaching staff, consists of a series of exercise phases which go from more basic to hockey-specific as training camp approaches.
“In talking with the coaching staff, we wanted to make sure that the guys didn’t work hard just for the sake of working hard,” Lobe said. “A lot of the guys leave hockey season in hockey shape and sometimes they work really hard during the summer but they get in shape for the things they’re doing outside of hockey, whether it be biking, jogging, tennis, rollerblading or swimming. Each sport is so specific so we want to make sure that when the guys show up for training camp we have tests set up that are going to show what kind of training they did this summer. Assuming everybody went through the protocol that we have designed, the tests are going to show that they’ve done those things.”
And if they don’t?
“If they didn’t do the work out, or if they did it the wrong way, the tests are designed to reflect what type of training they did or how they did it,” Lobe continued. “We’re blessed to be working with really gifted athletes, we just want to make sure when they’re working out, training and lifting weights, they do get stronger, faster and more explosive while their overall athleticism gets increased.”
With help from the Lightning Corporate Communications department, Lobe put together manuals that were given to each player during their exit interview. The manual includes demonstrations of various exercises and ply metrics as well as the first phase of the program. After they complete the first phase the rest of the phases are altered for each individual player.
“They can have the workout, but I can give the same workout to 10 people and each person isn’t going to do it the way we want them to,” Lobe said. “I have it worked out so every 2-3 weeks the guys will be getting in contact with me and I have test sets in the work outs and they can email me the data and then I’m able to adjust the information. Then I will be sending out workouts every other week. They have their summer manual and then once they get in touch with me I will be sending them their next phases throughout the summer.”
Some players will receive their phases in person as they will work directly with Lobe in Minnesota. Minnesota natives Matt Smaby, Mike Lundin and Brandon Bochenski are already working with Lobe on a daily basis. Steve Downie, Paul Szczechura and others will be traveling to Minnesota as early as mid-June just to take part in the program directly from the source. Lobe certainly sees an advantage to players going to Minnesota.
“That way when the players go home they know the tempo of the workout, how much rest they’re going to need and the style of training that we’re doing,” Lobe said. “We’re going to make sure when guys go home they’re not going to be lost in the dark. It is a disadvantage for the guys who do not come in and see us because they may think they’re doing it the way we want them to but that isn’t always true.”
Many athletes are different and require a variety of programs to work on numerous weaknesses. After the initial phase Lobe will be able to determine each player’s deficiencies, whether it is strength or speed, and assign the next phase specific to the individual. If a player is determined to have a lack of strength then his next phase would then work on that deficiency. Likewise, if another player is diagnosed with a lack of speed his next phase would concentrate on that area. It is a concept Lobe calls “an individualized program within a team setting and team concept”. Even though the exercises may change for each player, the tempo is the same across the board – fast.
“In basic physics, strength and speed equals power and we’re trying to make these athletes more powerful,” Lobe said. “Once we have achieved that increase in athleticism then we’re going to turn our attention to hockey-specific things like working with their skating coach and on their overall hockey skills. Basically it’s taking that newly developed power and then converting it into a sport-specific phase. Once that is achieved then we condition that so once we get into training camp everybody will be on the same page with the summer work they’ve done.”
After all the work Lightning players are putting in this summer they should be more than ready for training camp come September, and they’d better be. Rick Tocchet expects nothing less.