Malmo Redhawks: “Learn and try” season on 1080 Syncro and 1080 Sprint

Not many people would have blamed Freddie Sjogren for waiting. His bosses in the front office may have wondered when they would see some use out of their newest equipment purchase.

But any number of simple, reasonable explanations and a lot of conventional wisdom and outside opinions would have reassured them. Three weeks before opening day is not the time to introduce a maximum strength stimulus to your players.

Fortunately for everyone at the Malmo Redhawks, Freddie Sjogren did not wait. When the Redhawks received their 1080 Syncro and 1080 Sprint less than a month before the puck dropped on the Swedish Hockey League’s 2017/18 season, Sjogren decided this first year would be “a learn and try” period, with everyone committed to learning while trying.

Trying does not mean tentative. Sjogren has the Redhawks doing isokinetic maximum strength work and French Contrast sets stacking the 1080 Syncro with the 1080 Sprint.

“When you come into the max strength phase a lot of guys are not comfortable doing it. The 1080 Syncro is a new way to load the legs and upper body in a safer way,” Sjogren said. “And we can measure every rep of it!”

Sjogren estimates 70-80% of the Redhawks’ resistance training on the 1080 Syncro is isokinetic at 0.3 – 0.5 m/s. They perform single-leg Bulgarian split squats, front squats and single-leg Romanian deadlifts in this style. He uses the individual 1080 Quantum’s for single-arm presses, single-arm rows and horizontal rotations.

For explosive movements, Sjogren uses the 1080 Syncro to have his players perform a lower body movement with a 2:1-1/2 ratio between the eccentric and concentric load, e.g., 60-80 kilograms for the eccentric portion and 40-60 kg for the concentric movement. They then perform an explosive acceleration of 5-7 meters with 5-10 kg of resistance from the 1080 Sprint.

They also take the 1080 Sprint on the ice for resisted accelerations of 5-20 meters. Because the Redhawks practice in a multi-purpose arena they only have two hours of ice-time each day. This limits their opportunities for in-season conditioning with the 1080 Sprint. But when the team is on the road, any players who stay behind because of injury but are still able to skate will use the team’s ice-time for 1080 Sprint work one day per week.

“They do the accelerations, and we look at their metrics with constant and variable resistance. To be able to do this on the ice is game-changing. It’s an important feeling for the players who are injured, away the team, but now they are able to train their acceleration and speed on the ice in a way no one could have before.”

The Redhawks have started to perform squat jumps on the 1080 Syncro every week to monitor their power output. Sjogren analyzes the force and power alongside the club’s Catapult data. “We have standard tests on 1080 Quantum and Catapult. For example, compare the symmetry between the left and right leg on the squat jumps with the data from Catapult. Every time there’s a difference we bring them in and 99% of the time that leg is out of order. It’s an indication of overuse. What else is the data telling us so we can stay ahead of it?”

The combination of technology is a force multiplier for the Malmo Redhawks. Sjogren is the extent of the strength and conditioning team. No assistants, no interns, only Freddie. “I wanted the Catapult and 1080 Motion systems to individualize everyone’s training when I only have so much time and attention.”

Sjogren came into the Malmo Redhawks at a time of major transition: new coaches, new management and a promotion to the Swedish Hockey League. For his first three years at the club he was part-time, and is now concluding his second season on the full-time staff.

He credits the front office for recognizing how technology adds value to the organization, and for supporting his “learn and try” philosophy. “We can increase the value of the players simply by keeping them on the ice, preventing them from getting injured and bringing them back more quickly if they are.

“Now when we bring in players they know they are getting the right coach, the right equipment and the right trainer at the right club. They know this set-up will help them achieve their goals of maybe signing with the NHL and earning a better salary.

“When we do that, the value is less than the cost of the technology.”

Sjogren is tinkering with a new 1080 Syncro set-up for the summer off-season that will attach the cable to the athletes’ upper body but still allow them to train their legs. “In our first attempt connecting the load to the upper body the players were concerned they were pushing more with the upper body than their legs. So we stayed with using a barbell. We’re now trying a new setup that will run the cable from the 1080 Quantum through the floor so they can be over the load and performing new jump tests.

“We’ve also used the X-Plode box to give them the same angle as the skate makes with the ice when they are doing the lower body exercises.”

He is also exploring rehabilitation protocols using the 1080 Quantum. The Redhawks have seen a significant drop in overuse injuries: 20 last season down to seven in the current season. Sjogren attributes part of this to the high-force work helping his athletes withstand the force they produce and absorb on the ice. But injuries are still part of sport.

“When I first looked at the 1080 Quantum it was all for performance. But this season one of our players had a shoulder / upper back injury, one you never see in hockey. It was more of a thrower injury. The first 3-4 weeks of rehab had very little progression and he could not lift at certain joint angles. Then we put him into the 1080 Quantum – just playing around, really – and he started reconnecting the shoulder to the rest of the body’s movement. This is something we need to explore more.”