Updated: Jun 11, 2019
Imagine the body is like a race car. On race day, the car is destroying itself to win the race. By the end of the race, the skeletal structure could be different than the beginning of the race. In other words, there's a higher likelihood that the engine and transmission could be pretty beat up. Not to mention depletion of gas, oil, and other fluids to make the car compete at it's best. During the race, pit stops are used to maintain the structure and re-energize the car in anyway possible. Tires, gasoline, and oil need attention. However, no matter how many pit stops the car has, it takes maintenance of the car to recover form each race. Therefore, once the race is over, it's done! Time between races should focus on quality rather than quantity.
I am by no means an expert in race cars, but based on the logical thinking, I highly doubt the driver is thinking of driving the car hundreds of extra miles to make sure the car is conditioned for the next race. Most likely, quality and quantity of efforts in between races are controlled to re-energize the car, or better yet, recover from what it did in the previous race. What if a hockey player thinks less about grinding the body into the ground? Or better yet, focus on constantly re-energizing the body? Think less about bagging the body as it already gets bagged during the game.
When it comes to thinking about performance in hockey, there's a common question that goes something like this, "Is the player in Shape?" When someone deems a player 'out of shape', what happens? The majority of the time, the player needs to do more activity to 'get in shape'. Let's use the analogy as a race car. If a driver competes in the Indy 500; and let's say they come in last place, would we say, "Oh, the car is out of shape. Let's have it drive an extra 200 miles to get in shape." I would have to imagine 99.9% of race car experts would not solve the problem by driving the car longer distances after the race. Focusing on driving skills and constantly checking the car parts could make more sense. If the car is given the necessary energy supportive substances such as gasoline, oil, car fluids, and a highly skilled and methodical driver, this could increase the chances of winning the race.
Let's apply this mindset to a hockey player. Every week, when a hockey player prepares for the game, they need to practice skills where they need to improve; however, just like a mechanic works on the car, or better yet, re-energizes the car, a hockey player could use a similar mindset. Instead of measuring a hockey player based on the mindset of 'In Shape versus Out of Shape'; consider this idea, "How energized is the hockey player? How much energy do they have to go the length of the season?" If we think in terms of energy, surprising and exciting occurrences can happen. Why? Just like a race car, or even a normal every day car, if maintenance is not done constantly to give the car energy to run optimally, what happens? It starts smoking and stops in the middle of the road. For a hockey player, if they do not focus on proper energy support, what happens? You'll hear them say things like, "I'm gassed." Funny how most players use that term.
To sum up the thinking, 'On Ice' activity is essential for a hockey player to perform at their best, however, there are other hidden gems with 'Off Ice Support' that can increase a player's performance. Thinking in terms of energy enhancement can lead a player to think less about extra time bagging themselves, but more time re-energizing themselves throughout the season and their career. Just like driving a car, don't skip every gas station and mechanic shop you drive by. Stop the car, talk to the mechanic, check the oil, and check the engine coolant. If it takes a few extra tools to make the car run longer before it depreciates, so be it. This can be the difference between a short career and a long career.