We just did the first half of our preseason testing with the Stonehill hockey guys and most athletes are in full swing.
This is a fun time of year because the hockey players are in to train while the soccer and football crew is out and playing.
Without further delay here are 3 more hockey training myths.
Lifting will make hockey players slow and bulky
Hockey players are obsessed with speed. If you can improve their speed or their skating then you are going to be a savior to them.
Sometimes the athletes think they know more than they do. A lot of them believe that too much weight training is going to make them slow.
Some will also fear that they will get too big from lifting weights. I simply remind them to stop flattering themselves. There are people that dedicate their lives to getting huge from lifting. Hockey players do not put in nearly the amount of time lifting that would be needed to get really big.
Good skating is part technique and part ability to propel themselves down the ice. Athletes that are strong will be able to push into the ice harder. This means that they will skate faster by being stronger.
I like to prioritize single leg strength work to transfer to the ice. Movements like lunges and split squats will develop strength on one leg which will be reinforced on the ice.
Athletes that do not work to improve their speed on the ice may suffer but that has nothing to do with strength training.
Hockey players do not need to be athletic off of the ice
When we get new hockey players in the gym, they tend to really struggle with our speed work. We are teaching them speed and agility technique but a lot of them don’t know what to do without skates on.
In my experience, the best hockey players are also high level athletes.
Hockey players should be able to run in a straight line, skip, shuffle, and run around cones even if their sport does not require it. I like to expose these athletes to some different stuff in their training. Making them change direction, run through hurdles, and getting them out of their comfort zone will make them better. Athlete first, hockey second.
I have also noticed that the better the athlete, the better they move. Athletes that cannot perform a squat, a deadlift, or other basic exercises are in trouble. I know a lot of hockey players have tight hips and the squat pattern should look like crap. I have not found that in better players.
Training for Hockey should not replicate playing
There should be minimal use of sticks or skates in off-ice training. That is a gimmick and it is not going to get athletes better.
Athletes going through ladder drills with skates on is dumb. Standing on one leg and doing forearm curls because it looks like a wrist shot is even dumber.
We have to accept that the purpose of training is to give the athlete tools to then refine in their sport. The purpose of training is not to look like the sport.
Strength training is one of the best ways to get athletes to shoot harder and skate faster. This would involve core stability, lower, and upper body training. Exercises would include bench press, squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and single leg work, based on whatever is appropriate for the athlete.
Attaching a stick to a bungee and practicing slap shots is probably going to make the slap shot worse. The first reason is that adding resistance to the stick makes the movement slower when we are looking for speed, it is counterproductive. Also, I don’t know good shot mechanics and I would be doing my athletes a disservice by pretending that I know.
I try to keep them separated while giving them the basic skills that will transfer. Lateral bounds, band work, and MB throws may not look like hockey but the demands on the body are the same.