Learn about peak performance with Ottawa Lady Senators Hockey Coach
Featuring Hanna-Riikka Turpeinen, Ottawa Lady Senators Coach
Hanna-Riikka Turpeinen has been involved in competitive hockey for many, many years. Born and raised in Finland, she grew up playing hockey with the boys in her small town and falling in love with the sport. In highschool, Hanna was recruited to play in the national women’s hockey league. During her career as a player, she represented Team Finland at the U18 and the women’s national team, adding international competition to her experience.
What started out as running skill clinics and volunteering with the local girls hockey team soon turned into something more serious when she moved to Ottawa in 2015 and started working for the Ottawa Senators hockey programs, eventually earning the title as head of hockey development.
From here, Hanna continued to be responsible for lesson planning, curriculum development, and delivery of skill development programs, from beginner to high-performance and competitive. This year, she moved into her current role with the Lady Ottawa Senators as the associate head coach. It’s no question that Hanna knows a thing or two about bringing out the best in athletes and reaching peak performance.
When it comes to bringing out the best in her players, Hanna says there’s no one size fits all approach.
“It starts from getting to know your players on the technical side of things. Where their skills are at, their strengths, and their areas of development. But also to me it's big to know who they are as people. Who are you working with? How do they react to feedback,” said Hanna. “How do they react to different situations in a game? What we then go through with them are their areas of strength, areas of development and what their goals are in the season. Then, we can individualize the feedback to help get the best out of the players.”
Diet and routine also have a lot to do with reaching peak performance.
“What we do with our team is we bring experts in, so we have our own nutritionist who does a seminar every four to six weeks or so. That's been a really great resource for the players and in terms of being a coach and managing a team, that's really important, especially at the high performance level to bring these experts in and have them part of your plan. You have your seasonal plan, you have your nutrition plan, you have your mental mental skills, plan, and all that. So that's definitely been something that is important and can really affect your performance, both good and bad. If you’re not feeling yourself, you’re probably not performing well.”
According to Hanna, when you get into the peak and high performance levels, you spend a lot more time practicing, on the ice, and exercising in general. This creates the need to be very aware of how you’re fueling your body and how you’re recovering. If you’re tired all the time and not recovering well, you can’t expect your game to improve either.
Peak athletes have to consider things like the prime protein intake, the carbohydrates they need, good fats and proper hydration. Even things like the timing of meals before a big game or tournament are important for high-level athletes. In fact, Hanna’s players are going to start trying to incorporate Kardish protein into their regular routines to stay on top of protein intake. Plus, they often incorporate supplements like Vitamin D into their daily routines, especially during the darker months.
Being such an expert, there’s no better person to ask for fitness advice for young women than Hanna.
“It's definitely about finding what works for you. Whether it's an individual sport or fitness or team sports, it’s finding what works for you and what brings you joy. I think the key thing is being active. It's just so important for the wellness side of things and the mental side of things. And, if you're doing a team sport, the social side of things,” said Hanna. “Sports has been something I’ve definitely carried through my life and has been a very integral piece in my life. It can open up a lot of opportunities even after those elite playing days.”
Bringing her expertise and developmental abilities to the table for the Lady Senators. She truly feels lucky to have the opportunity to continue being involved in athletics throughout her life.
“I feel like my life has been very much guided by sports and it has opened all these new opportunities. So it's definitely something that I'm very happy that I'm now in a position where I'm able to give back and help the next generation. And hopefully, these girls will keep that sport with them throughout their life and they can possibly coach one day.”