Jr. Sharks’ strength and conditioning program molds the complete athlete
The San Jose Jr. Sharks have a staff of five trainers that oversee and work with all the program’s players on a full-time basis.
Head strength coach Jay Thomas has been working with the Jr. Sharks for nearly 10 years and has seen his job evolve with the times. In fact, a personal injury of his own led to Thomas getting more involved in the business.
“My background in strength and conditioning started with my first year in college when I became NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified,” Thomas said. “I was a Business major, but had a part-time job in a gym. When I tore my ACL skiing, I was not very happy with the rehabilitation I received. This lead me to change my major to Kinesiology with an emphasis in Athletic Training. After graduating San Jose State and working at a junior college as an athletic trainer, I was again unhappy observing the athletes perform non-practical lifts that were obsolete. When treating many of them with overuse injuries in the athletic training room, I had an idea that I needed to get back in the gym to help athletes prevent more injuries.
“Now, I have the best of both worlds – I help on the athletic training side rehabilitating injuries as well on the strength and conditioning side preventing injuries.”
And working with a stellar staff also makes Thomas’ job a lot less stressful. Fellow trainers with the Jr. Sharks include John Germaine, Justin Maskell, Max Glaser and Matt Alta.
“The other trainers that work with me all play a major role in the program and we all work together well,” said Thomas.
Germaine has been with the program the longest. He has spent a few seasons assisting the San Jose Sharks in their offseason and during the season during games and practices. He also interned at Stanford University over the summer.
Maskell has been with the Jr. Sharks for two years and went to UMass Lowell with their hockey program for a couple of seasons. He also interned at Mike Boyle’s program in Boston – one of the best gyms in the country for working with youth and professionals.
Glaser interned at Pepperdine University in the strength and conditioning facility and also played college hockey as a goalie, which helps many Jr. Sharks players look to him for guidance.
Alta has interned with the Sharks and Barracuda, but is leaving us in January when he will be getting his doctorate in Physical Therapy.
Thomas noted than in working with youth athletes, there is a proper age to start training seriously.
“Strength and conditioning with the goal of increasing proprioception can begin in athletes at a young age – we recommend that athletes begin programmed movement patterns as young as 10 years of age. As the athlete’s age increases and they go through puberty, a higher emphasis on strength training is necessary. I think strength and conditioning plays a major role in giving players a mental edge on the ice. If we can help physically prepare the players for the on-ice demands of the game, it should help allow them to play a smarter game.”
The Jr. Sharks’ strength and conditioning program comes with many benefits, said Thomas.
“Athletes become stronger, skate faster, recover from shifts quicker and injuries are less prevalent,” said Thomas. “Our facility and coaches make San Jose one of the top tier programs on the West Coast. We have four rinks and that is still not enough. We have high school teams that practice before school because the nights are so busy with teams.
“Our solid base of coaching and wealth of hockey knowledge gives us a competitive edge.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Dec. 19, 2017)