“Our finding of increasing head impact severity with decreasing anticipation suggests that coaches should target this aspect of ice hockey in their technical development of players during practices, to promote the skills necessary to keep the safety of participants at the forefront.”
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Mihalik research proves that by anticipating a collision a player can reduce the injury. He advises that players be in a stable position which includes a heads up stance, flexed knees and hips, feet shoulder-width apart and using legs to drive shoulders through the collision. His conclusion in effect leads us to a very significant core problem which may be contributing to serious injuries faster than we realize; skill deficiency and lack of practice.
Previously, I have written blogs based on research done by former NHL hockey coach George Kingston which essentially confirmed the same thing. The Kingston Study and now the Mihalik Study come from different perspectives however they conclude with the same advice; more practice time to develop the skills necessary to play and in today`s hockey world, that means safer.
The safety of hockey players is now more than ever an increasing issue. Stop Sport Injuries was created to help support the prevention of athletic overuse and trauma injuries in kids. Their Council of Champions includes business, sports and medical leaders and was established to advocate this message and actively engage youth sports parents, coaches, athletes and healthcare providers.
The Stop Sport Injuries campaign is responding to the growing epidemic of preventable youth sports injuries. They believe the intrinsic hazards of playing hockey cannot be completely eliminated, but the risk of injury can be substantially reduced. Click on their link for further information: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/hockey-injury-prevention.aspx
The Stop Sport Injuries is one of many great organizations focussed on injury prevention and treatment awareness. They provide tips for parents, coaches, associations and health professionals. It would be great to see these admirable organizations promoting technical skill development and practicing as an injury prevention tool. Dr. Mihalik and his colleagues have advised this in their study funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment and the USA Hockey Foundation.
It seems far more effective to me that all parents of hockey players embrace the realities of hockey related injuries with a greater sense of responsibility. As a hockey parent, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure our kids are well protected which more than ever includes being very well prepared before they go on the ice surface! This core value of keeping our kids safe applies across the board and should not stop when we drop them off at the rink. Parents can play a very significant role in better understanding the advice of Kingston and Mihalik and engaging in the development process off the ice with their kids.
Paul Behner is the President of Skillz Systems Inc.; their program QuickStickz teaches hockey players how to stickhandle safely. www.quickstickz.com