Summer can be a tough time for hockey players. Ice time can be very limited. Some rinks aren't even open during the summer months—which can inhibit skill development if you let it.
Regardless, summer can be your time to become a better player by training off the ice. We spoke with Doug Crashley, owner of Crash Conditioning (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) and trainer to NHL stars Duncan Keith, Jordan Eberle and Mike Green, to learn what you should focus on when you can't get on the ice.
1. Do More Dynamic Movements
Crashley recommends increasing time spent on dynamic warm-ups. These routines include fantastic exercises for increasing mobility, reinforcing proper movement patterns and reducing muscle imbalances—critical needs for hockey players. If you have the time, spend twice as long in your warm-up. Just double the number of sets you perform for each exercise or drill—especially mobility movements. You can even do this type of work as a form of active recovery on your off days.
2. Get on the Field
Skating and sprinting are different skills, but the fundamentals behind them are similar. "When you run, you create ground force that propels you forward," says Crashley. "It's no different on the ice, because to be fast and powerful, you need to push back into the ice to create that ground force."
This makes speed, agility and quickness drills on the field extremely important for hockey players. Put simply, they will make you a better athlete by increasing your movement power and efficiency, which will directly translate to better performance on the ice.
Watch the video above to see Jordan Eberle performing the Triangle Drill to improve his quickness and reaction time.
3. Build Strength and Size
This one might seem obvious, but it needs to be said: This is the best time to focus your energy on building strength, size and power in the weight room. Like every athlete, you need to develop full-body strength by performing big lifts like the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift—and their variations. You can fill in the gaps with other exercises.
Since you can really torch your body during the summer months, Crashley recommends focusing on the eccentric (lowering) and isometric (holding mid-rep) portions of the exercise. Building strength in these muscle contractions improves deceleration and change of direction, translating to more powerful movements on the ice.
4. Get in Shape
You know the feeling when you get stuck on the ice for extra long. Or when you're sucking wind on the bench after a tough shift, and your coach calls your name to get back on the ice. It's not fun.
That's why conditioning is critical. Crashley says, "In the playoffs Duncan Keith was playing the best hockey, because he was able to play at a high pace, even though he's not the biggest guy out there."
According to Crashley, hockey players should start the summer by developing their aerobic base. As the summer goes on, add high-intensity threshold work—at or near near your max effort. This creates the complete conditioning base needed to work near your max during a shift and recover quickly on the bench.
Aerobic Work – 300-Yard Shuttle: 12 reps x 25 yards. Try to complete the Shuttle under 60 seconds. Repeat for three sets, resting for two minutes between sets.
Threshold Work – Bike Intervals: 12-15 reps, 30 sec. at max speed, 30 sec. at slow speed
5. Improve Your Skills
Practicing your skills on the ice is always preferable. But as you know, it's not always possible.
So you need to do the next best thing. Crashley's simple solution: Stickhandle in your driveway with a golf ball.
You should stickhandle to your right, center and left, use short and wide patterns and even stickhandle off one leg. You can also do drills by stickhandling through different patterns. To really challenge yourself, try to stickhandle with your non-dominant hand.
As for your shot, there's one thing you should do. Shoot pucks as often as you can.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock