Ice Hockey Strength Training
Hockey players need to build muscle to protect themselves from the impact they incur during collisions on the ice. As with other speed-dependent sports, individuals must be careful not to focus too much on getting big, as it can slow them down if done the wrong way.
This is an explosive power sport in every way, and strength training programs should match these needs. Upper and lower body work must maximize strength gains, and a solid core is a must for success at any level.
Olympic lifting and plyometric work are often valuable training tools for ice hockey, as well as medicine ball drills for upper body power. Their benefits include increasing your skating stride and slap shot power, among other things.
Rotational training for strength and power also fits well here, as skating and shooting have a lot of rotational elements to them. Rotational core stability will reduce wasted motion, and should be trained heavily. This will further increase power, and but will also conserve energy to keep you playing fresh far longer into games.
Two other helpful training tools, although not primary areas of focus, are grip strength and vision training. Grip training that truly strengthens the muscles and tendons of the hands and forearms will help with snap shots and injury prevention. The growing area of sports vision can also help with passing, defense, and shooting, but is of particualar value to goalies.
Ice Hockey Speed & Agility Training
Although skating and sprinting are very different skills, a dryland program that includes sprinting still helps to trigger adaptations to your nervous system that will make you quicker on the ice. Do not overlook this simple tool to build skating speed when you don’t have the opportunity to skate, so long a
Just about every multi-directional land skill translates well to the ice. Crossovers, lateral movement, reaction speed, and acceleration work all help build speed for hockey, and should be used often.
But the bulk of speed training for hockey needs to be done on the ice. There is no substitute for going out and skating at full speed. Experienced, knowledgeable hockey coaches will know how to maximize this in order to get the most out of their players’ abilities.
Conditioning For Ice Hockey
There are three parts to getting in peak condition for ice hockey:
- Maximize your aerobic base
- Maximize your anaerobic potential
- Develop your ability to buffer lactic acid buildup (ages 16+)
For all sports developing the aerobic base is the same – you need to do steady state work for relatively long periods of time (20 minutes or more). This will help you to recover faster from the demands of your sport, and it increases your potential to build the next step in your conditioning – the anaerobic phase.
Anaerobic exercise is the type you cannot do for very long periods of time without resting. Think sprints, or any other all-out effort. The way you develop this area is highly dependent on how your sport is played.
For ice hockey players having a great aerobic base is critical. The anaerobic base should be built by progressively working up to the specific work-rest ratios for your position, age, and level.
Let’s say as an example you are a 16 year old forward and based on either your coach or parents charting your activities during a typical 60 second shift they see that you skate hard for 5 second bursts about 4 times, and glide or stand still for the remaining 40 seconds with 2 stoppages of play.
Anaerobic workouts for this player should progressively work up to these conditions.
So as an example you could do skate hard the length of the ice once, skate one easy lap, then skate hard again and repeat for 60 seconds. This is just one example of how to run sport-specific conditioning for ice hockey.
Last but not least would be your lactic acid buffering workouts. On ice hard skates work well, and off-ice sled and hill runs simulate the on-ice demands very well.
Conditioning drills must consider the age of the players, and should be used very sparingly before high school. Even then, teenage hockey players do not benefit from taking the same exact volume of conditioning drills that are found in a typical college workout. A focus on fast paced team drills are far more appropriate for the long-term development of young hockey players.
Injury Prevention for Ice Hockey
80% of all injuries come during games, when the potential for high impact collisions is greatest. The top concerns that can be lessened through training include problems with the shoulders, legs, lower back and wrists.
Shoulder injuries come almost exclusively from taking on contact. A balanced approach to upper body strength training is the best way to protect this vulnerable joint while improving performance at the same time.
Injuries to the knee and ankle joints, as well as muscle strains to the hamstrings and groin are common in ice hockey. Developing good mobility (flexibility), lower body strength in all 3 dimensions, and good skating technique will minimize the risk for problems here.
Butterfly goalies can develop hip impingement problems due to constant internal rotation of their hip joints. Part of the issue is simply that this is an unnatural motion that will be a concern no matter how you train. Having said that, regularly strengthening the external rotators of the hip as a counterbalance to the internal movements would be highly beneficial for butterfly-style goalies over their careers. Increased flexibility work can also make a big difference in preventing impingement issues.
The lower back is under constant stress while skating, which makes it prone to tightness and pain. High levels of core strength can do wonders to combat both short-term and long-term back problems.
Proper upper body strength training that protects the wrists can mimimize damage if a problem occurs. Sometimes training can create tendonitis in the wrists for ice hockey players, so good technique is very important. And if you could avoid getting into fights on the ice, that would help, too. (That last part is not a training suggestion, per se, just some friendly advice).
Youth Ice Hockey Training Considerations
Building a great foundation of strength and power, particularly through the core and hips, is great for young hockey players. This will help you to skate better, and increase the power in your slap shot.
Developing high levels of balance and hand-eye coorination, both critical for future success, are best trained starting at age 7. Kids have a window of opportunity up to about age 14 where these skills, along with general athleticism, are most capable of being improved.
Sports vision training can easily be sprinkled into age-appropriate exercises for young players, and would be an additional benefit for them. In a fast paced sport that uses a tiny puck, having great vision will make you better both on offense and defense.
Ice Hockey Training at Power Source
Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire ice hockey players can train with us in any of our elite programs. We’ll tailor your training specifically to target your greatest areas of strength and power needs, as well as help protect you from any potential injury risks, in our Group Personal Training Program.
Our Speed & Agility Classes are designed to enhance the sprint and agility technique through expert coaching, video analysis, sprint treadmills, and a handful of other tools.
At certain times of year we also run week-long Speed Clinics, and are open to working with teams and organizations to set up a private clinic just for your players. Feel free to contact us at any time to inquire about training for an individual athlete, or private clinic/team training options.