In today’s article, I am going to keep things really simple, you and I are going to briefly talk about why you should be training your grip strength, and then after that, I am going to give you an 8-Week program that you can follow to get a harder wrist shot.
Before we get started if you’re interested in diving further into how your grip strength can actually impact your all-around hockey performance, make sure you bookmark this comprehensive article I previously wrote on this exact topic.
Working Through The Myths
Although grip training seems simple on the surface, it’s a little more complicated then most people give it credit for.
You can’t just grab something hard and think that it trains your grip strength effectively over time.
For example, wrist curls and wrist roller exercises are great for the forearms, but they don’t specifically train the muscles used in gripping. The muscles you need to concentrate on are located in the hand and they don’t run across the wrist (from an anatomical perspective).
I have had coaches suggest to me in the past that they just have their athletes squeeze a tennis ball, but here we have three major issues:
- You only have one option for the degree of resistance being applied.
- The more you squeeze the ball, the weaker it gets over time. So, even though you are getting stronger (which would necessitate a need for greater resistance) the ball is getting weaker (which kills your ability to overload your grip muscles).
- There is no way to apply or measure an overload, which also means there’s no way to improve beyond a certain point.
Obviously, tennis balls aren’t going to cut it.
Which is fine because there are many more intelligent ways in which we can train our grip in existence today, even using the most basic equipment.
Why Would Hockey Players Train Their Grip?
Actions such as passing, wrist shots, and snapshots are almost exclusively a result of the amount of force you can generate within your hands, forearms, and upper arms.
Because of this, enhanced grip work will have a very obvious transfer to enhanced performance in these areas.
But, the slap shot is a much larger movement that incorporates the lats to a very large degree.
Luckily for us, one of the best bang for the buckshot power exercises in the entire game is the wide-grip pronated lat pull-up.
And, almost everybody’s weak point within this movement is their grip strength and not their lat strength.
So, with more grip/forearm training we can have an immediate impact on our passing, wrist shots, and snapshots — but, when we get a stronger grip we are also now able to perform more pull ups which will have an immediate impact on our slap shot power.
With something as small and simple as added grip work, we create a ripple effect on all things shot power and shot release time.
Safety and Efficacy
A powerlifting coach would probably tell you that “the big movements are enough” when it comes to training your grip.
They will say things like “if you do deadlifts and rows your grip strength will improve all by itself”
Although that’s true, it’s a far cry from a complete approach. This is why they are powerlifting coaches and not hockey coaches.
Those exercises would improve grip performance in those lifts, so they would see that as a “win” — whereas I, on the other hand, would only see it as a win if you are objectively shooting harder out on the ice.
Your grip training program should apply force to your muscles through every range of motion they are active in, so if you’re not including:
- Crushing exercises
- Levering exercises
- Pinching exercises
- Static holds
Then you don’t have a complete and hockey specific grip training approach.
Not to mention, using grip-focused exercises is a much safer approach than trying to increase the time under tension in a deadlift which can put your entire body in more injury prone positions. Especially when trying to hold on until the last second to train your grip.
Below is a periodized approach to developing your grip strength to create a harder wrist shot, snap shot, pass, and slap shot.
It should be noted that almost everybody just “adds in” grip training exercises, and although that may work to some degree, I have no idea why they aren’t using the methods of periodization in their grip training program design just like they would in the other training blocks of their in-season/off-season.
Don’t just “add things in” — Program them in.
Weeks 1-4 was designed to stress the system through a high volume of training, whereas weeks 5-8 is an intensification phase designed to stress the muscles through a period of high-intensity work.
Weeks 1-4: High Volume Training
Perform the following four exercises in a giant set fashion. Meaning, you will perform all three exercises with no rest in between, then, rest for two minutes once you have completed the third exercise.
Repeat for three total rounds, and perform this workout 1-2 times per week after an upper body training day.
A1: Seated barbell supinated wrist curl: 3 x 10-12
A2: Two-handed plate pinch carries: 3 x 30-40 seconds
A3: Crush grippers: 3 x 10-12 per hand
Exercise Demonstrations for Weeks 1-4
Seated barbell supinated wrist curl
Two-handed plate pinch carries
Weeks 5-8: Intensification Training
Perform the “A-series” and “B-series” of this workout in two different supersets. For example, you will perform your reps of “A1”, rest 10 seconds, then perform your reps of “A2”, then rest 90 seconds before going back and repeating all three rounds of your A-Series before moving on to your B-series and doing the same thing.
A1: Seated barbell pronated wrist curl: 3 x 6-8 with 10 seconds rest
A2: Two-handed plate pincher: 3 x 20 seconds with 90 seconds rest
B1: Levering: 3 x 6-8 per arm with 10 seconds rest
B2: Snatch grip pronated barbell hold: 3 x 20 seconds with 90 seconds rest
Perform the above workout only once per week after an upper body training day.
Exercise Demonstrations for Weeks 5-8
Seated barbell pronated wrist curl
Two-handed plate pincher
Snatch grip pronated barbell hold
The above program is an 8-Week program that you can use to improve the power you have in your wrist shot, snapshot, passing speed, and slap shot.
Get after it hard, a program will only ever give back to you what you put into it.
Once you have completed this program and you’re ready to take your grip strength and shot power to the next level, check out the Lighting The Lamp Program that’s found inside the Hockey Skills Accelerator VIP Program.