“Ringette is an Intermittent Sport: Rest is Good”

It was the end of the ringette practice. Ice shavings covered the surface. The 12 and 13 year old players were skating vigorously back and forth, the width of the rink. The coach was barking orders.

The common name for this drill is “the boards.” Players hate it. They think of it as punishment that coaches use to get even with players.

I watched with interest. I noticed that players would skate for about 30 seconds and rest while the coach watched. In 10 seconds, it was time to repeat. During the second repetition most players skating very poorly. Good technique had been replaced by arms and legs flailing. Players would do anything to finish. No one could go for round three.

Is this a good practice? Is this the future of training for Ringette players? Or, is a coach doing what they think is best, or what they were taught when they were 12?

Scientists often say training should cater to the sport: the Principle of Specificity.

See our blog post “what are the characteristics of Ringette” to see what skills and attributes are needed in Ringette. However, if we watch a game we notice 60 second shifts followed by 60 to 120 seconds of rest. This cycle continues for 50 to 60 minutes depending on the length of the game. Players over 13 play 2, 20 minute stop time periods. Each 60 second shift comprises skating at top speed, moderate speed, stationary struggles for ring possession, gliding, and some stationary positioning depending on role (forwards waiting outside the opponent’s zone). This is consistent with time motion studies of similar sports: soccer and hockey. We would say that “Ringette is Intermittent.” This was supported by a study recently done by Dr. Kelly Lockwood of Brock University on the Canada Winter Games Team Ontario (Halifax, 2011) to describe game behaviours using video analysis. She presented her summary results at the 2011 annual meeting of the Ontario Ringette Association.

Ringette coaches should understand “Interval training;” used by athletes for decades. Track athletes in particular have perfected their series of workouts using intervals to prepare for sprint and middle distance events (less than 3 minutes).

Exercise scientists at McMaster University studied the effect of a Monday, Wednesday Friday routine over 2 weeks. The workout comprised 4 to 7 maximum 30 second sprints followed by 4 minutes of recover. The entire workout took about 30 minutes. The work to rest ratio of 1 part work to 8 parts rest, allowing for a good recovery. The results, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, showed significant changes to short term muscle energy stores, while doubling cycling capacity. Interval training produces great results in a short time.

Typically, a work to rest ratio for interval training is 1 to 2 or 1 to 3, depending on the effort and length of the work duration.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for Ringette coaches. Place players in groups of 3. One player does the drill, while two watch. Take turns. This promotes a work to rest ratio of 1 to 2. This develops Ringette related energy systems and good technique.

Tired players will not display good technique. If technique is your goal, allow more rest – groups of 5 or 6.

Off-ice Interval training is great fun and teams will enjoy relay races in groups, capture the flag tag games, and speed play training passing the baton or ring.

Start with 5 to 10 minutes of 10 second intervals at 80 % effort, with a 20 second rest in between each work bout. Build up to longer workouts of 20 to 30 minutes. Vary the work periods up to 45 seconds. This offers great ringette game play fitness training.

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