What It Takes

June 18, 2013  |  Posted by David Pollitt
Summer hockey training
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With summer in full swing most hockey players should be well into offseason training in preparation for the next hockey season.   As I consult with players and teams I notice that some players will do what it takes to make it happen and get to the next level, while others see the offseason as a fun time to do very little.   For those athlete’s not wanting to work hard let me tell you that natural skill will only take you so far before hard work and perseverance must play a huge role in your success.

For everyone wanting to get to the next level in hockey here is just a basic checklist of what it takes for a productive offseason of training:

  • Players should be looking to attend shinny ice sessions (called “stick time” in the US) to work on the fundamental aspects of their game.   Everyone can use more time on the ice (in full gear) to work on quick starts, stops, turns, puck control, shooting and a wide variety of skills and drills that will propel their on-ice abilities.   In case you need a hand with the hockey skills portion of your on-ice training, consult with a local hockey skills professional (such as Steve Phillips at Hockey Contractor).

  • Mid way through the summer, players should get on the ice and look to play in pick-up games, and if possible in a 3-on-3 type league on a small ice surface where they will get lots of playing time and exposure to basic skills such as puck possession and puck defense.   If you can’t find this type of league then get a group of friends together and get out to the shinny ice sessions where you can often section off part of the rink with cones and play.

  • As skating is the single most important aspect of playing hockey, it is a great idea to attend a skating school of some kind.  Skating experts like Steffany Hanlen and Laura Stamm are the two experts I would HIGHLY recommend as they both teach key skills very well and get the most out of players in terms of skill development.

  • Several times a week (at least) you should spend time on weight training that is specific to hockey.   I have NEVER met a hockey player that was too strong to play hockey and most players are very weak in critical areas of the body (shoulders, neck, hip, etc.).   As I see many players skate with straight legs I would also add that working the legs hard will help you skate with the proper leg bend that is SO CRITICAL to success on the ice.

  • You should work to strengthen your core area (low back, abdominal muscles, and hip musculature) every day!  The core holds a players posture on the ice, allows transfer of power from the legs to the upper body in shooting/passing/checking, as well as protecting the spine from injury.  A strong core is essential for hockey players and the off-season is the perfect time to develop that strength.

  • Every hockey player should spend more time working on flexibility…period.   This is a highly neglected area for most athletes and for some reason in hockey it is even worse.   Stretching will help extend the stride length, work to balance the body and help prevent injuries during the season.   Each and every day is a chance to improve this aspect of your game…so get going!

  • Conditioning must play a huge role in your offseason training.   It’s all fine and good to be strong in the weight room, but if you cannot apply that strength on the ice when your heart-rate is 190 beats per minute than your useless on the ice.   The issue I see with conditioning is that most players do it all wrong.   Running for 30 minutes or riding the bike will NOT make you a better hockey player…it will make you a better endurance athlete.   Conditioning must be more hockey specific.

For a detailed resource on how to integrate all the aspects of dryland training I suggest picking up my book, DRYLAND which is the most comprehensive manual written on the subject of off-ice training.

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