Conditioning Hockey Players without Running

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High school hockey players have about a month to be ready for tryouts.

The Monday after Thanksgiving is the day.

No matter how much we seemed to practice or play for other teams leading up to the high school season, that first practice was always awful. This is especially true for those that do not get ready off of the ice.


I was the one who used to think that all I needed to prepare for the hockey season was play hockey.

I always find it ironic of how I got to the position of developing athletes. It is mostly because I do not want them to make the mistakes that I made.

Looking back, its readily apparent that I needed to be training off the ice to be ready for the season.

Anyway, this is the time where hockey players should be honing in their conditioning.

This usually means a few options:

  1. Play more hockey
  2. Occasionally run or hop on a bike
  3. Incorporate a balanced approach

Obviously I am a big fan of number 3.

At this point of the year, these athletes should be on the ice. They do in fact need to be skating and playing in order to be ready for the season. What they do not need to be doing is playing in tournaments every weekend where they play 4-6 games over two weeks.

Getting on the ice 2-3 times per week is plenty.

I would also like to see hockey players training off of the ice for a minimum of 3 days/ week. These sessions would focus on strength training, power development, and conditioning.

I like the bike when it is used properly. Most people do not push themselves nearly as hard as they need to on it. It could be a great tool that many use as the easy way out.

I am also not the biggest fan of long distance running. Hockey players are not efficient runners which means that running may take a huge toll on the body.

Two big complaints I hear from young hockey players is painful backs and cranky knees. People that do not know how to run well often complain of those same ailments. If the athlete is not efficient or resilient enough to handle the demands of running then I would not consider it a good choice.

I also think there are better methods of transfer to this sport.

The Slideboard

The slideboard is a good tool that many think is hockey specific. I use it for all athletes because it takes the impact off of the joints and gets athletes moving side to side.

Most athletes are forward (and sometimes backward) all of the time. Sports are played in 3 dimensions, not just one, so we should train the other ones as well.

The only downside of the slideboard is the learning curve. Sometimes athletes need to get used to sliding without the fear of falling. This forces them to hold back and not really get a whole lot from the time spent on it. This usually isn’t a problem with hockey players though.

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We can also use circuits to help condition hockey players.

The best way to do this would be to use total body movements, with little rest, and lighter weights to perform higher volume.

I like to choose between:

  • MB slams
  • KB Swings
  • Battle Ropes
  • Sled pushes
  • Sled drags
  • Farmer Carry
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Step Ups
  • Jump Rope

The secret really is that you could choose anything.

Depending on the goal of the circuit you can tweak the work and the rest.

A lot of people like 20 on 40 off or 30:90 for hockey players because it mimics the shifts of a hockey game.

Other intervals could be used, such as 30:15 to make it more aerobic.

I do go over some of the intervals in Slideboard Training for Hockey.

You have a month left it is time to kick it into gear. Be ready for the season instead of getting ready as it starts.