Developing An Off Ice Hockey Training Program
When it comes to off ice hockey training the first thing that comes to mind is usually improving ones strength, and well it should be. However in every well-rounded hockey training program there are many other key points. These also need to be considered in order to assure off season success. Here are several not as well known aspects that should be taken into account as part of your hockey training this summer.
1. When Did The Season End
One of the first questions to ask is: when did the season end? This has huge implications as far as what will be done at the beginning of the program. If the season happens to continue later into the spring because of a late season playoff run you may need to emphasize a 2-3 week deloading phase. This is where you would concentrate on limiting the lateral lower body movement and the forward flexed posture of skating. Replace it with linear (straight ahead) and sagittal plane (think arms and legs swinging back and forth) exercises.
2. You Need A Goal
Another question you may want to ask is: What is the main goal you have during this off season? Is it strength, increased muscle mass, improved speed, or a combination of several different objectives? Choosing your goals wisely can have a profound effect on the following hockey season and aids in the off season individualized program design.
3. Speed Is Strength
Speed is strength! How fast you can tiptoe between an agility ladder has little carryover to on ice performance. It’s how much force you can translate through the ice or ground that dictates skating speed.
4. Customize Your Program
Program individualization can have a major impact on program results. Sure there are many must do exercises that most players should be performing in their off ice program however, every situation is different. Age, size, past injuries, joint range of motion, training experience, movement quality just to name a few should all be considered when developing an individualized hockey training program.
5. You Need Proper Recovery
Taking into account proper recovery is just as important as the actual off ice training. The best hockey training program in the world doesn’t amount to much if you are not getting enough sleep, the right nutritional habits, and water intake.
6. Be A Multi Sport Athlete
Hockey players definitely get beat up during a full season of banging and grinding. Similar to point number 1 above, as a player you must mix up the movement patterns. Do this during the off season to counter act this overuse. Playing a different sport like soccer or baseball for example gets a hockey player away from the bent over at the waist posture. As well as the lateral movement (the pushing of the legs out to the side while skating) that is so prevalent in season. Running, jumping, lower back extension is exactly what a hockey player needs to stay injury free and athletic.
7. Work Hard, But Smart
You DO NOT have to be absolutely crushed laying in a puddle of your own vomit and sweat to think that you had a worth while training session. There are many exercises and drills that you actually don’t want to be in a completely fatigued state when attempting them in order to get the best benefit. Eg. Olympic lifts for power improvement, which are highly technical. Also acceleration drills which again are about generating absolute power not increasing conditioning.