Are you looking to become a better hockey player? Here at HockeyTraining.com our goal is to help you improve your speed, power, explosiveness, agility, and conditioning on the ice with advanced hockey training methods to make you a better hockey player.
Hockey Training Programs
Below you will find a list of our most popular professionally designed hockey training programs.
- Off-Season Hockey Training Program
- Men’s League Hockey Training Program
- Youth Hockey Training Program
Or sort through a full list of our hockey training programs here.
Our mission is to help as many hockey players as we can in taking their hockey game to the “next level” through our hockey training expertise and nutritional knowledge. The Hockey Training team consists of Kevin and Dan who are pictured here.
Dan (or Coach Garner), pictured on the right, is the head strength and conditioning coach and nutritional specialist at HockeyTraining.com. He holds 12 of the top certifications in both training and nutrition, as well as a formal education in both functional medicine and health science. Dan specializes in hockey performance, having worked with hundreds of athletes from the youth leagues, right up to juniors, AHL, KHL, and NHL.
Kevin, pictured on the left, has a strong passion for hockey and helping hockey players take their game to the next level through off-ice training. At a younger age he played junior hockey in Canada, but now in his late twenties is “retired” from the competitive hockey leagues and enjoys trying to light up the men’s leagues. You will see Kevin in many of the hockey training videos, and most of the weekly emails will be sent from Kevin.
Why Hockey Training is Different
Below I will discuss the different details involved in hockey training program design and why a separate, more specialized approach is required outside of the normal bodybuilding training philosophies that most people use.
It’s not a bad thing to do bodybuilding workouts, some training is better than no training, but that approach to training is a far cry from what would be an optimal routine for a hockey player.
Just lifting weights could be considered “general fitness” — whereas hockey players require a much more “specific” approach to training. This right here is the different between exercising, and training.
The majority of the time these “general” workout plans are used by hockey players for one of the following reasons:
- They saw it in a magazine and/or on a general online health and fitness site
- It’s what their friends are doing
- They wanted a beach body
- They’re trying to design their own training programs and have limited knowledge in strength and conditioning
- They have a personal trainer designing their training programs who has limited knowledge in strength and conditioning
All of the above reasons are the most common I come across when consulting with a new athlete.
Now reasons one through four all make logical and predictable sense right? A hockey player is expected to be a hockey player. He is on the ice because he is an incredible athlete and he is looking to improve his game even further so he can make the jump to the juniors, semi-pros or even the pro leagues.
How does he do this? He hits the gym of course.
But with his primary focus being an athlete plus the fact that he may not be trying to make a career out of strength and conditioning, he doesn’t have time to review and research every aspect of periodization, strength qualities, strength curves, biomechanics, recovery, physiology, biochemistry, nutrition, supplementation, program design structure, proper muscular balance, among many other things that all need to be taken into consideration in regards to the “big picture” of what goes in to creating a hockey-specific program.
It is simply way too much to ask of an athlete to train him or herself (at least properly anyway), they can try, but it will be a defeating tactic in the long run.
Reason number 5 is the one people are most often shocked with.
Believe it or not, just because you are a certified personal trainer, doesn’t mean that you know jack about training or the human body.
Everybody reading this, provided they are over 18, can become a personal trainer in a weekend if they want to.
Yeah, you read that right, a weekend.
So when choosing a trainer in your area, choose wisely and ask for credentials, testimonials, pictures and who they have worked with and/or been mentored by. They should also be able to show you your ideal periodization for the year and explain why in extreme detail.
Always remember, when it comes to the strength and conditioning industry:
Certified does not mean qualified.
With that out of the way, I can now discuss why hockey training is different from the average approach and what you should be looking for in a truly authentic hockey performance training system.
Each of these topics could stand alone as full books on their own as there is so much to discuss towards their implications on hockey performance. But for the sake of keeping this article just an article, I will touch on the important but easy to comprehend factors behind them.
The Top 5 Reasons Why Hockey Training Is Different:
1. Structural Balance:
Structural balance is a key component to achieving maximum speed, agility, strength, prevention of injury and power output. By structural balance, I simply mean you must have proper muscular and strength balance in three categories:
A) From your upper body to your lower body
B) From your left side to your right side
C) Between smaller muscle making up larger muscle groups in a localized area. For example, your hamstrings. Your hamstrings are made up of several different muscles and the strength balance between them plays a role in skating performance
When one side performs better than the other, your risk of injury drastically increases as you are putting the body in an awkward position during movement and if one side can output a force greater than your other side, this can very quickly lead to strains and pulls.
There are many structural imbalances hockey players naturally create simply by playing the game.
Hockey players are notorious for having strong glutes and weak hamstrings, being imbalanced in their upper body based on which side they shoot with, and also having a poor balance in the quadriceps, mainly a weak VMO. These are just a few examples, and among them, everybody is different.
So incorporating proper program design to address these issues is absolutely vital.
You are only as strong as your weakest link, if an imbalance is present, it will hold back your entire bodies performance.
So something as simple as correcting an imbalance in your quadriceps could result in much faster skating on the ice. Or correcting weak lats would have a profound impact on your shot power.
Hockey players perform very repetitive motions using the same muscles over and over again. Re-correcting this in the weight room is one of the top priorities for hockey performance training.
Hockey players carry plenty of natural tightnesses in their hips, calves, lats and Achilles tendon. I have found that a very large percentage of hockey players over 15 years old have these issues.
Tightness in hockey players is a sneaky phenomenon because it can drastically hurt performance, but yet people overlook it because their lifts in the weight room might be going up, yet they aren’t getting any faster or agile.
This issue is very often a tightness issue. It doesn’t matter how strong or coordinated you are, if you’re tight you won’t have the proper movement mechanics to perform to the best of your ability. One of the most overlooked aspects in explosive movement and agility is tightness.
How are you expected to be agile and create high-velocity direction change on the ice if you are tight? You can’t. No matter how strong you are.
I have discussed this before in other articles and also in many videos, it is very important. With proper training program design and exercise selection, these tightness’s can be addressed both in and outside the gym.
When something as solvable as tightness is your main issue, don’t let it hold you back.
It’s tough to give options to a large audience for this issue but one thing I can tell you is that split squats are fantastic for hockey players. They really, really attack this issue, especially for the hips, and are great to have in your training.
Switch it up with front foot elevated, flat, and rear foot elevated split squats. You will be doing yourself a big favor.
Additionally, something everybody can do is incorporate some hockey-specific mobility routines right into their program. I call this “penalty-free volume” because you can add it to your program right away, but the additional training volume does not tax your recovery reserves enough to make a difference to adjust anything else. I have made plenty of mobility routines available on this site and on our YouTube channel that you can check out right away to start taking steps in the right direction.
3. Energy System Training:
To put it very simply, the body operates on certain energy systems that are either anaerobic or aerobic.
Anaerobic movements typically consist of high effort movement between 0 – 2mins. This energy system is primarily fuelled by creatine and carbohydrates.
The aerobic system, on the other hand, is the system you use throughout your day for light, physical movement or for long, steady state cardio (bike, jogging, etc). This system is also responsible for restocking the substrates needed to fuel anaerobic metabolism, and also responsible for removing the fatigue producing by-products leftover in the muscle after anaerobic energy has been created.
One thing that is extremely important to note is that hockey is a alactic-aerobic sport. Meaning, real on-ice performance is governed by short-duration, high intensity bouts of physical activity — followed up by low intensity, longer duration bouts of recovery. This could be seen when watching a player skate as fast as possible, shoot the puck at the net, score a goal (all anaerbic-alactic acts), only to then slowly return to the bench or skate back to center ice to start the next play (aerobic recovery period).
You need to train your energy systems appropriately in order to create a sport-specific result from your training that is going to translate out on the ice.
When you train anaerobically, those systems will become stronger and more conditioned. This will lead to you being stronger and more anaerobically conditioned on the ice. When you train the aerobic systems, this will lead to an overall better cardiovascular endurance and will also allow your anaerobic systems to work better for longer durations.
Just think about a hockey shift – this is usually 60 seconds of all-out skating as hard as you can, shooting as hard as you can and lots of explosive, high-velocity direction change. These are all high-effort, short duration movements that your anaerobic energy system is backing.
On the other side, when have you ever seen a hockey shift that has resembled anything of aerobic nature? Is hockey more comparable to jogging for 30 minutes or is it more comparable to sprinting for 30-60 secs? Of course, sprinting!
But you still need both to create the most well-rounded hockey player.
Now, there is a good way and a bad way to approach this. If you do too much of either training modality, you will become dominant in that energy system and therefore hurt your conditioning levels rather than improve them.
Your body will always adapt to what it is exposed to most, the intracellular signaling and hormonal cascade are different from anaerobic to aerobic so your body has the adapt somewhere in the middle because it doesn’t know what you want to excel in if you are trying to do both.
This is why you need a structured and progressive periodized training plan that maximizes both of these systems and doesn’t just make them as simple as “go out for a jog” — or — “let’s do some sprints”. Speed and conditioning isn’t this simple, and this would be considered a very general approach.
What muscles are active on the ice? What co-ordination of movements are you required to have energy system development in? How much lateral work should hockey players be doing? Is the lateral work aerobic, anaerobic, or both?
These questions and many more need to be answered before creating the 12-month off-season and in-season plan that is going to make you an unstoppable hockey player.
Let me make this very clear, this is no such thing as fitness. The question always is, fit for what? This is where the physiology behind training comes into play and ensuring your program design matches all qualities behind hockey performance even to the cellular level.
Good options for anaerobic-alactic training are sprint variations, jump variations, medicine ball work, and certain prowler drills. And for your aerobic training, this can be tackled through many different areas, but I am the biggest fan of periodized tempo runs and combo-cardio sessions.
Proper periodization of your training efforts can make or break athletes.
If you’re focusing on the wrong training adaptations at the wrong time it can create big issues, particularly during the in-season. Big issues being that you are sacrificing on-ice performance for in the gym performance.
Look, hockey players looking to become better hockey players are not in the gym to become better weightlifters, they are in the gym to become better athletes. That should always be your prime focus.
But it is up to the strength and conditioning coach to provide proper periodization of training phases to allow for the best results both on and off the ice.
In the offseason, it is the best time to focus on your most glaring weaknesses as you can apply the most amount of your time and effort into these phases without worrying about game time or traveling.
Properly periodizing your training phases in a certain order to maximize the required adaptations from training during that time of the season will make leaps and bounds difference with your performance.
For example: Peaking for tryouts, maintaining your strength and endurance during the season, maximizing your strength and weak points during the off-season, addressing the physical speed qualities for hockey training and all the transition plans in between.
Textbooks have been written on periodization and each sport varies depending on the length and frequency of the competitive season and to try and wing this aspect of the strategy will come right back to bite you in the ass.
A typical season should include the following phases:
D) Official and league competitions
Each of those phases all include goal setting, speed training, strength training, mental training, and nutrition to support and maximize the process. Incorporating these properly into the hockey in-season and offseason is a long conversation, one that separates entirely from other forms of training and makes hockey training very different.
5. Exercise Selection and Order:
With the above 4 considerations to hockey training, they all affect the 5th and final category for this article. For exercise selection the reason is simple, some exercises are better for hockey players than others, but the reasons behind the reason are very complex.
What muscle groups are recruited during the exercise and why is that important for hockey. What are we trying to get out of the exercise, is it for speed, power, structural balance, flexibility, explosiveness, prevention of injury, energy system conditioning or agility?
All of these factors come into play when training for hockey and what exercises you choose and the order in which you perform them in will all have a major impact on how successful your training program is going to be.
This is the major downfall for trying to follow any magazine or “Googled” training program, none of the above considerations are taken into account simply because they aren’t programs built for maximum hockey performance.
I hope I was able to open up some key concepts to why hockey training, and more specifically, why hockey players are different in this article. I would like to conclude it by repeating one of my above lines.
There is no such thing as fitness, the question is “fit for what?” Strongman competitors are lean and muscular, would they be good hockey players? No. But would you be able to call them unfit? Also, no. The question always is, fit for what?
Different sports have different requirements based on a wide variety of human performance so to be a better hockey player you have to train like a hockey player.
Hockey Training Articles and Videos
For more great hockey training content visit our Hockey Training Articles page to see our most recent published articles that will help you become a become a better hockey player. You will find lots of great articles written by Coach Garner to teach you the basics of hockey training with topics including how to skate faster, how to get in better hockey condition, and many more.
Also be sure to check out our Hockey Training Videos for more information on how to train properly as a hockey player to help increase your performance. These videos include sample workouts, informational videos explaining how hockey players should be training and why, and lots of other great hockey training content in video form. We will be publishing hockey training videos every Monday during the 2018 hockey off-season or summer months.