We are about 5 weeks away from the high school hockey season.
By now most of these athletes have been playing at least a few times per week on a half season team, rec team, etc.
Luckily, this usually isn’t more than 4 times on the ice per week. Anyone who is skating more than that is not preparing for the season very well.
This time of the year, the pre season, is a good time to work on developing certain qualities that will be needed leading up to the season.
To this point, hockey players should have been doing a lot of strength training in order to increase muscle mass. This process should have started in the spring and gone until now.
Strength is one of the qualities that take the longest to develop so it needs to be trained over a good amount of time.
The shift now moves towards power and conditioning work. These two qualities are quick to develop and most easily maintained through the season.
The nature of playing hockey is often enough to maintain power and conditioning. Conversely, strength needs to be maintained in order to have success throughout the season and not just the first month.
In most sports, conditioning is something that is truly trained once on-ice practice starts. I have noticed that no matter how much athletes train, nothing is comparable to that first practice. The advantage for those that trained in the off season is that they will not be skating to puke in a barrel.
About two weeks into practices (and maybe some games) the athletes are usually conditioned for the sport.
Power is easily maintained during the season, but it is not built through practices. Power training needs to take place in the offseason.
The only prerequisite for power training is that the athlete is strong. Strength is the basis for power and without strength, force production suffers.
The month of November is a good time to rev up the power training because it is a quality that will be needed for the start of the season.
Here are a few different methods to increasing power production before the season.
There are thousands of jumping variations that can assist with developing power. We can do two legged jumps, single leg jumps, lateral jumps, ¼ turn jumps, and the list goes on.
Some variations that I like are single leg hops. These will force power production on one leg, like a skating stride, while the landing trains the hamstring to provide knee stability.
- Med Ball Work
Medicine balls are great for developing upper body power. We can train in rotation, overhead, and straight ahead. We can also create combinations of different athletic movements into the throw like shuffles and lateral bounds.
The process is easy and actually somewhat enjoyable, take a med ball and throw it into a wall/ground as hard as possible.
If they med ball is being thrown as hard as possible then we are training for power.
- Speed work
This kind of speed work takes place in the weight room specifically. I like speed work for squats, deadlifts, and bench press in the preseason for a couple of reasons. First, it reduces loading which is helpful in the preseason since the athletes already have demands placed on them.
Secondly, it is a good chance to practice good technique. Keeping up with mobility and overall good movement patterns is essential to maintaining good performance and health throughout the season. This is a way to do that.
Lastly, it is a good way to develop power. Control the weights on the way down and explode through the concentric part of the movement.
Try performing 8 sets of 2 at 50% of your 1RM with 30s rest between sets. This will not be taxing like strength work but will provide tons of benefits.
- Complex training
Complex training is an advanced method of maintaining strength and producing power. Complex training is the combination of a heavy strength movement (2-4) reps followed by a plyometric and then a long rest period.
An example of this would be a heavy set of 3 squats paired with 6 squat jumps.
This is an effective method but it is not for beginners.
The preseason is the time where we need to sift our training focus from strength to power. Power will be maintained through playing hockey which makes it even more important to build in the preseason.
It will be hard to close the gap once practices and games takes place 6 days/week.
Start training for power now and be happy with the results during the first practice.