Off Season Training for Hockey

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The hockey season ended about a month and a half ago for most players.

The summer will be upon us in the next couple of months.

This means that the training program can start to make some changes.

Right now hockey players would be in a post season phase, trying to reverse the effects of the season.

Tissue work, mobility, and basic exercises are performed during this time.

Once the summer rolls around, it is time for more advanced training to take place.

A good off season program revolves around the following goals.

1. Strength

This might go without saying but it is important the build strength over the 12 week summer period.

Using June, July, and August to get as strong as possible will set a great foundation for the pre season.

A total body approach should be used focusing on balance.

Unfortunately, a lot of young hockey players have really strong quads but no upper body.

Working on upper body strength will help the shot, ability to take and give a hit, and help establish position on the ice.

2. Core stability

Hockey players live in extension. This means that the lower back has a larger curve than it normally would. An anterior pelvic tilt is also common.

This is important for a number of reasons. A spine that lives in extension can create damage to the vertebral bodies and facet joints.

It also makes for inefficient movement. The body is never going to be at its peak if it is not aligned properly.

Core stability also plays a role in sports hernias, a common hockey ailment. The definition of sports hernia is not cut and dry but it is most often a damage to the abdominals.

I am grossly understating what the injury is but for explanation purposes that is the minimalist description.

An anterior tilted pelvis lengthens the abdominals and makes them weak. When movements like a slap shot are performed a lot of stress is placed on the abdominals, which are lengthened to begin with.

Repeat this over and over and there will be damage to the insertion points of the abdominals.

Core stability also plays a role in groin pulls. Any hockey player knows that groin issues are all too common.

When the pelvis is titled forward due to hockey posture, the muscles of the groin (adductors) become shortened.

Asking a muscle to act normally in shortened state will lead to strain and pulls.

Training with exercises that promote a neutral spine and anti-extension is going to
help improve the extension pattern that hockey players display.

Barbell Rollouts are a good exercise to resist extension. The athlete just needs to ensure that they are not feeding into the bad pattern by arching the back too much.

3. Energy System Development

More commonly known as conditioning or dry land training, ESD is necessary during the off season.

Making improvements to an athlete’s conditioning level takes time and most athletes wait until they are on the ice again in the fall.

It is too late by this time.

2-3 per week athletes should be performing some kind of dry land training that is specific to hockey.
Running for distance or cardio is not a good way to train for the demands of the sport.

Hockey shifts last: 45 and then the player might not get on the ice again for another 3 minutes.

This is the anaerobic glycolysis energy system, a big fancy way to say that work bouts of 45-120 seconds with double or triple the rest time.

300 yard shuttles are a good drill to work on this. To do this, setup two cones 25 yards apart. The athlete will run down and back, repeated 6 times (300 yards).

This takes anywhere from 55-85 seconds and then the athlete should rest for twice as long as it took before repeating.

300 yard shuttle
4. Continued hip mobility and tissue work.

Hockey players are always going to have tight hip flexors, glutes, and quads. These muscles get a lot of use and the hips stay in a shortened state.

Continuing to improve mobility will help train efficiently before the season. Rolling and massages will also help to reverse some of the overuse in the muscle groups.

Training over the summer is too important to ignore. It is a great time to setup an athlete for a successful return to the ice.

Keep it simple and consistent for the best success with training.