When you think of hockey players, you think of toughness. It takes hard work in the off-season to develop the toughness and strength you need to play such an intense sport.
A lot of toughness is mental. But to play tough, your body needs to be durable. And that's where sport-specific training comes into play. Important modifications need to be made to hockey training programs, both to improve performance and to keep athletes on the ice.
Here are six things hockey players need to take into account during training.
1. Hip Mobility
Too often, hockey players come into my office with restricted hip flexors and muscles associated with the hip. To keep their hips mobile, they need to implement basic warm-up exercises and stretches every day before training. Also, it's important to strengthen the groin muscles, which are commonly injured in hockey players.
- Foam Roll
- Fire Hydrants
- Horse Rider
- Bird Dog
- Psoas Kicks
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2. Movement in All Planes of Motion
To be an elite hockey player, you must have coordination, strength and flexibility with movements in all planes. Hockey includes rotational, diagonal and lateral movements along with forward and backward movements. All of these planes of movement must be developed in your off-season training.
- Squats with bands around your hips
- Duck Walks with bands around your hips
- Reverse Bounds
3. Rotational Power
If you want to shoot harder and make crisp, cross-ice passes, you must develop your upper-body rotational strength. This can be done with basic exercise variations of Chops and Lifts that work your upper body and your core. Developing their transverse abdominus muscles is crucial for hockey players.
- Half-Kneeling Chops
- Half-Kneeling Lifts
4. Change of Direction
During a hockey game, you rarely move in one direction for a long period. Hockey is all about quickness through change of direction. Straight line speed is important, but not as important as quickness. To develop quickness, focus on Ladder and Cone Drills.
- Lateral Box Sprints
- Slide Board Lateral Slides
5. Single-Leg Strength
This one is easy to implement in your workouts. In hockey you are constantly playing on one foot at a time. During your training, try doing Overhead Presses while standing on one leg instead of two. You will be forced to use your core and leg strength for balance. Also, performing Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts will help you develop single-leg strength along with eccentric contraction of your hamstrings.
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Side Lunges
- Crossover Step-Ups
- TRX Skater Lunge
- Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
6. Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
Ideally, during a hockey game, a shift lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 seconds. Keep that in mind when you train during the off-season. While performing a circuit, work out in bursts of 20 to 45 seconds, then take a minute off. This will develop the fast-twitch muscle fibers you need to become an elite hockey player and will directly translate to performance on the ice.
- Box Jumps
- Broad Jumps
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