How are hockey players improving?

Professional sports leagues have evolved into million-dollar corporations.

Athletes have become bigger, faster and stronger.

This is true of hockey. The sport has grown a lot.

Players in today’s game are training every day.

Players have changed their diets since 2005 when Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin came into the league.

The focus on strength and conditioning has increased tremendously. A player won’t make any starting lineup if he is not in peak physical condition.

Lots of players in the 60s and 70s players didn’t take off-season training seriously. Back then, players didn’t work out as much because they had to find other jobs in order to make a living for themselves and their families.

Instead of working out, a lot of players would stay in shape by playing other sports such as baseball, football and ball hockey.

Most players only started working out at training camp and would play themselves into shape.

Franky Palazzese is a former pro hockey goalie. He is the goaltending coach for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting.

Frank Palazzese in net with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers/Photo via Instagram @fpalazzese

“Differences from when I played aren’t too much, other than now it’s going to all aerobic type stuff, a lot of band work rather than real heavy weights as they’ve figured out the weights strain the body too much,” he said.

I asked Franky if the training is different today. “The training now is unbelievable though for guys. Generally, pros will do two hours in the gym a day, a lot of cardio and core and then get into agility and weighted stuff. It used to be lift as heavy as possible but too many guys were getting injured,” he said.

Palazzese with the Kitchener Rangers / photo credits OHL Images

Franky told me that there are big differences transitioning from junior to pro. “Big differences from junior to pro were that in pro you work out every day and not just for 10 minutes. You do a full in-season workout to keep your weight and your conditioning up. In junior, you may do one workout with the team a week. So much more serious with off ice stuff in pro.”

We have come a long way from players drinking in the dressing rooms, to having a second job and now making hockey a full-time job and taking care of their bodies.

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Mark Freitas is an expert when it comes to sports, video games and movies.