Hockey training contains an unbelievable amount of information. Everything from on ice practicing, stick handling, shooting, sports Psychology, and hockey sense just as examples, however this website will mainly be dealing with off ice training in regards to everything strength and conditioning.
So when we’re thinking of off ice training, whether that be in season or off season, what we will be focusing on is the Hockey Strong – Hockey Training System.
This is a plan that encompasses everything involved that would be part of preparation for anything off ice. Basically hockey training involves working out which is the actual off ice hockey training and recovery from that training. So take this journey, let’s dive in.
The Training in Hockey Training
When beginning any off ice training, you need to first consider if you are going to exercise in a gym, outside, or in your basement for example. You then need to consider whether or not you have any access to equipment like weights or bands and have it be more like a weight training program. You then have to evaluate all the equipment and see what fits with the program. it could also be strictly a bodyweight program if there is no access to equipment. This is also regardless of being female or male, a hockey player is a hockey player!
Regardless of what style of hockey training you decide on and where you decide to perform it, that does not change the structure. Below we will discuss all the aspects that need to be a part of every hockey training program.
The warm up’s main purpose is to prepare the body for work and to reduce the chance of getting injured while performing the exercises that are part of the workout.
Foam rolling although not necessarily scientifically proven to improve muscle quality and flexibility, antidotal evidence from numerous strength and conditioning coaches, athletes, and facilities have all expressed major benefits from foam rolling as part of their hockey training.
Foam rolling is the process of rolling your body over a foot and a half to 3 foot roller, you guessed it… made of foam or actually there are many now made up of harder substances like rubber or plastic.
Following the foam rolling, this is usually a good time to perform a dynamic warmup. A dynamic warm up consists of athletes performing movements through full ranges of motion demonstrating control and stability throughout each movement.
Ideally these movements work on all the muscle groups of the body with emphasis on the muscles which are going to be used in the following workout.
Once the dynamic warm up is finished some muscle activation movements can be performed to help wake the specific muscles up that will be the focus of the days workout.
Examples of muscle activation exercises would be anything explosive and powerful. However not a full plyometric workout.
A few Squat Jumps and short sprint accelerations would be a good example.
The Hockey Training Workout
Now the body and the mind should be more than ready to give 100% effort in regards to demonstrating strength, power, core stability and conditioning to name a few. This is all for the ultimate goal of becoming a faster, stronger, and more stable hockey player.
First off, speed training is performed while the body is fresh and can perform at 100%.
Speed is how fast you can actually move your body. This in turn transfers to skating faster on the ice.
The ultimate speed training exercise is of course sprinting. Whether the sprinting consists of short explosive sprints, accelerations, flying 10’s etc. you want to be at your sharpest.
100% all out Sprints are probably the highest level of plyometrics the can be performed, so you definitely want to be at your best. If you are experiencing fatigue, are injured in any way, of lack focus or lack of sleep, it’s probably wise to leave sprints for another day.
Power training usually always includes some form of plyometric.
This could be jumps, hops, depth jumps, pushes, swings, throws, and bounds.
Power it the ability to exert a maximal force on an object in as short a time as possible. In the context of hockey the object is usually your body in relation to skating. It could also be the puck or an opponent.
The more steps or skating strides you can perform in a particular period of time and how much force you can produce with each step or stride basically dictates how explosive you will perform on the ice or in the gym.
This is very important in the sport of hockey and is what helps create separation between you and your opponent.
I believe agility and how it relates to all athletes is a reactive agility rather than just being able to move around objects well like you see with agility ladders. True agility is being able to react to a stimulus and and then taking appropriate action to avoid it.
An example of this would be a forward skating in on a defensemen and then being able to stick handle around them for a shot on net.
If you’re looking at hockey training as a system of different levels of components of a workout, strength is definitely on the ground floor. It is the fundamental component and foundational level that power, speed, and explosiveness are built upon.
Strength is how heavy an object you can lift. the stronger your legs are or hips for example, the easier it is for you to move yourself around the ice. You also don’t want to just focus on one body part. The whole body works as a unit to improve performance.
For older hockey players, hypertrophy which is the size of a players muscles helps them when you get to the age of body contact.
If you happen to be a player that is strong for the amount of muscle mass you carry, meaning if you carry a substantial amount of muscle, yet move extremely fast the greater force you can apply to your opponent making it easier to separate them from the puck.
Core stability and having a strong core in all spheres is what makes you more effiencent of translating force created by your lower body and transferring it to your upper body.
Think of it this way, when taking a slap shot you are pushing hard into the ice the reaction force comes back through the ice through the lower limbs and then transferred through your core up into the upper body then applied through the hockey stick and acts upon the puck.
Working the core with medballs is the perfect way to see this transfer in action.
Energy Systems For Hockey Training
Racing to the puck, back checking, recovering between face offs, recovering on the bench between shifts all is accomplished thanks to your bodies energy systems. Specifically your anaerobic and aerobic systems.
You can train these systems with tempo runs, long slow duration activity, interval training, sprint repeats to name a few.
Different types of equipment, train, and surfaces can also be used like treadmills, hills, turf, trails, water, and bikes(which aren’t my favourite) and many more.
Although both energy systems are at work during all aspects of your activity during a game, but one is usually emphasized over the other.
Anaerobic systems help you during the quick race to a loose puck or a back check.
The aerobic system helps you recover between face offs and between shifts.
One thing that a lot of players never think about and may be more important for older players than younger players is fitness testing. It’s one of the sure fire way to tell if what you are doing for training is actually working.
During the cool down after your workout you are wanting to switch from the hyped up fight or flight Sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed recovery of the Parasympathetic nervous system which helps with the recovery and microscopic healing process.
This is a great time to perform some light static stretching and help reverse that flexed forward position famous in hockey players. Which unlike the dynamic stretching consists of non movement, static positions and holding these positions for anywhere from 60-90 seconds or longer.
Recovery breathing is probably the most effective way of helping the body transition between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems allowing recovery to begin ASAP.
Recovery From Hockey Training
I would argue that in regards to hockey training success, recovery is more important then the actual workout. A workout is only a good workout if you are able to recover from it.
There is a tremendous amount of emphasis placed on hard workouts being the be all end all, however recovering from that specific hard workout is actually when the change occurs and the improvements in strength, power, and muscle size can actually happen.
What you eat and drink is what fuels your workouts, hockey training, and games. You can think of nutrition kind of like gas for a car. If you don’t put the right fuel in the tank your engine will sputter!
The macro nutrients, Protein, Carbs, and fat all play important roles. Protein helps increase strength and muscle mass.
Carbohydrates is used to fuel your energy systems.
And fats are also used for energy and micronutrient transport.
Marco nutrients usually get all the love, but micronutrients are as important because they are working behind the scenes allowing macronutrients to be the major movers they are.
Examples would be vitamin D, and the B vitamins as well as electrolytes which are algae changers.
Speaking of game changers, water when talking about hockey training and athletic performance on the ice and off could be the biggest of all.
Dehydration is a huge factor in poor performance in daily living and is magnified when considering sporting performance not only at the elite level, but amateur as well.
Except in circumstances of malnutrition, supplementation is usually not something any athlete that eats a well balanced diet needs to worry about.
As a hockey player gets older, for example in their late teens where decisions can be made on taking supplements like Creatine to aid with performance in the gym, intern having a potential impact on the ice.
Sleep is another big impact aspect of hockey training and recovery that often gets overlooked. Like dehydration a lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on workouts and any athletic performance.
The younger you are the more sleep yo need.
The body can take a beating through consistent workouts as well as practice and games.
Taking care of the muscles. joints, and tissues is something that can not only speed up recovery, but also reduce the chance of being injured. It can also help recover from injury in the unfortunate situation that one arises.
Self Myofacial Release
A great form of self myofacial release is foam rolling. Helping realign fascia and easing trigger points can improve movement and help with workout goals and on ice performance.
Physiotherapy is a great option if there happen to be injury issues, but a well qualified therapist can work with you on rehab treatment and exercises. If you can avoid these injuries in the first place, all the better.
As mentioned above although not the main focus of this web site, I will definitely be touching on other hockey training topics such as the ones mentioned below.
Mental training in the form of visualization, motivation, goal setting, etc. can all add to the hockey training tool box. The more options an athlete has to succeed the better.
Hockey sense is often thought as awareness about how the game of hockey is played on the ice, but often this saw is best sharpened off the ice through discussion, video review, team meeting, coach and player one on one discussions, etc. and that’s why I have hockey sense in the category of off ice hockey training.
When you look at all these aspects of off ice hockey training as a whole, it can be very overwhelming. However what a player must do to really be successful on the ice is to break these all down step by step and start with bite size pieces.
Do only what you are capable of right now. Start with the basic foundational steps like getting stronger with resistance training, get enough sleep at night, and eat a well balanced diet. Then fill in the other areas as you master the fundamentals.