To excel in a fast, endurance-testing game like hockey, you need to adopt and stick to a comprehensive exercise routine. Activities like couch luge, TV-to-fridge sprints and laundry hamper 3-point shooting are fun, but they really won’t improve your hockey game. You need to schedule time to:
- Build strength in key muscle groups
- Increase your aerobic fitness so you can play hard, even in overtime
- Improve your balance and stability
- Enhance your ability to skate hard from a stand-still
- Condition your body to resist injury and heal from it
Though it may seem like a tall order to get all of this knowledge from a single article, you’ll find links to other resources where you can find detailed instructions on how to complete these exercises. Some of these resources are right here on the HockeyShot website, others are from trusted sources. Grab a bottle of water and make sure you’re wearing your workout gear, because we’re about to take you through your paces.
1. Hockey Strength Training
To skate fast, shoot hard and evade the opposing team, you need to build strength and flexibility in your shoulders, arms, chest, abs, core, legs and glutes. You also need to build emotional and mental strength, but we’ve saved that for another article. You’re probably tired already since I’ve mentioned just about every muscle group, but hockey’s that kind of game. Make sure you start with a good warm up, including:
- Arm swings and circles
- Trunk rotations, twists and stretches
- Walking lunges, prisoner squats and leg swings
- Burpees and stride jumps
- Medicine ball tosses and cross crawls
If your heart skipped a beat when you read prisoner squats, don’t worry. They are an excellent way to warm up your quads before strength conditioning. There are video demonstrations of these exercises available at the “warm up” link above.
To actually build strength and explosive power, you’ll want to follow a plyometric exercise routine and use free weights and resistance equipment. In many cases, you can use everyday objects around your home, at school or even at the office.
There are many different exercises and devices to build a stronger shot, stronger skating strides and stronger arm strength with dumbbells for building up stick flexion, grip strength for stick control and for goalies, stronger quads for those acrobatic stops in the crease.
2. Aerobic Fitness
Keeping your heart and lungs fit for the hockey season doesn’t necessarily require a gym membership or an expensive treadmill in your home. Find a public building like a football stadium with a set of stairs you can run at your own pace. Take up jogging, ride your sister’s bike, or take a hike in the forest when your sister finds out you’ve been riding her bike.
Building up respiratory and circulatory health is important for hockey fitness, and variety keeps you engaged. Former Toronto Maple Leaf’s forward Gary Roberts now trains pros like Connor McDavid and Steven Stamkos. In an article in the Toronto Star, Gary said: “it’s important to have variety in your workout, to eat right while being consistent with scheduling. A good mix of sprints and endurance running is good for hockey agility, speed and resilience for extended shifts.”
3. Balance & Stability
When you are streaking down the ice as fast as Gary Roberts could back in the day, keeping on your blades requires excellent balance and stability. As kids grow into adolescence and adulthood, maintaining balance in their growing body and hormone-pumping brain requires a lot of practice. On the ice, players can work on edge training and shooting the duck (gliding on one foot) but off-ice they can do single-leg step ups and Russian dead lifts.
You’ll find many balance, edgework and stability exercises from our friend Jeremy Rupke on his coaches page.
4. Skating from a Standstill or a Turn
Whether you are taking a penalty shot, or a reacting to the drop of the puck at center ice, building the ability to skate fast from a standstill is important for fast acceleration. Just like you need a powerful engine with lots of horsepower for a car to go from 0-60 MPH quickly, players need a strong heart and leg muscles to be able burst into a fast skate. Using equipment like the Slide Board Pro can build the quads and calf muscles needed to skate hard and fast, both going straight or changing directions.
5. Avoiding, Preventing & Healing Injuries
There are many precautions hockey players can take, exercises they can do, and lifestyle habits they can adopt to prevent injury, or heal from it faster if it happens. They include:
- Keeping your head up on the ice, and generally exercising safely, at your own pace
- Ensuring you are hydrated, rested and following a nutrition plan
- Wearing protective equipment and exercising caution when on synthetic ice, slide boards or practicing slap shots.
- Protect others with a hockey tarp or backstop.
- Seeing a physician for or a fitness trainer to get an assessment of your baseline fitness, existing injuries and setting realistic goals/workout regimens
Healing from minor injuries can be helped by rest, heating or cooling pads, and doctor-prescribed medication. Having an RMT, or your significant other massage your back to comfort are both good options (return the favor).
There are many ways a comprehensive exercise program can help you be a better hockey player, a better teammate and a healthier person overall. If you need help finding hockey fitness equipment or training tips to help you build your hockey skills, contact our knowledgeable experts today: firstname.lastname@example.org