Hockey Warm-Up

In this article, I’m going to show you how hockey players should be warming up prior to intense physical activity – whether it be a hockey game, practice, or off-ice training session.

Here are the different topics I will be covering (click on any of the below to jump to the section you’re looking for):

The Benefits of Properly Warming Up Before Hockey

The basic benefits of warming up are the prevention of injury and the enhancement of performance. 

Hockey Stretching

The warm-up accomplishes this in many ways.

  1. A muscle contracts more forcefully and relaxes quicker than one that is not warm. Thus, potentiating speed, strength, agility, and power (which all hockey players need).
  2. Warming up a muscle increases the sensitivity of nerve receptors and their transmission speed. Thus, increasing both speed and reaction time. This is sometimes coined as “waking up the nervous system”.
  3. Warming up increases the temperature of the blood which allows for more oxygen to be transported to working muscle tissue during exercise.
  4. Warming the body up enhances vasodilation which allows for more substrates to enter working tissues (such as carbohydrates and electrolytes) and this same vasodilation also allows the body to remove more wasteful products out of the muscle at a faster rate (such as all of the metabolic by-products associated with muscular fatigue.
  5. Warming up improves range of motion and mobility prior to hockey. Thus, leading to greater functional outputs in a real sport-specific setting as well as a decreased risk of injury since you have a more active range of motion available to you.  

Long story short, the majority of the benefits that come along with the warm-up result from an increase in body temperature.

This impacts your energy metabolism, range of motion, joint lubrication, blood saturation of working muscles, and overall vasodilation of the body — all which will play a big role in your hockey performance.

Many hockey players (and unfortunately, their coaches as well) put a half-hearted effort into seeking out optimal ways to warm-up prior to hockey games and practices and normally just do the standard warm-up drills (a few stretches, some jogging, jumping jacks, etc.)

Don’t overlook the importance of warming up — I don’t care if you’re pressed for time or if you find it boring. 

A proper warm-up is essential because it prepares the body for hard work, and since a warm-up improves performance you can also expect quicker rates in progression from your training. 

Example Hockey Warm-Up For Games and Practices

Below is an example dynamic warm-up that I would have hockey players run through before a hockey game or practice…

Here are the exercises we ran through in the above warm-up:

  1. Jumping Jacks x 30
  2. T-Stab Push-Ups x 6 per side
  3. Arm Circles x 12 in each direction
  4. Straight Arm Rotations x 8 per side
  5. Single-Leg Hip Circle x 12 in each direction per leg
  6. Zombie Squat With Reach Through x 8
  7. Shoulder T x 15
  8. Zombie Lateral Lunge x 5 per side

This would be an ideal general hockey warm-up. On top of this, I would also recommend a more specific warm-up (which would be your time spent on the ice during warm-ups).

Let’s get more in-depth into general vs specific warm-ups for hockey players…

General vs. Specific Warm-Ups

For the rest of the article, I’m going to be discussing warm-ups for both hockey training (gym and speed sessions) and on-ice games and practices.

So what is the difference between general and specific warm-ups?

A general warm-up is a group of exercises that you will perform to elevate your body temperature and “get loose”.

They don’t need to directly relate to the activity or sport you are going to partake in, but are more just to generally get your body ready for activity.

Specific warm-ups are essentially “build up” exercises.

They are less intense versions of whatever exercise you’re about to perform that act as a vehicle to slowly get to the intensity that you’re going to perform your working sets at.

For example, if you’re going to run sprints for a hockey speed workout it’s ideal to do some light runs first before going full throttle. 

Or if you are going to perform heavy squats you shouldn’t just start with your working weight. You should work your way up there through several progressive sets.

Just as you wouldn’t enter a hockey game without taking some practice shots in warm-ups, you should get some warm-up reps in the gym or on the field with exercises you are about to perform (especially at the start of the workout).

So to put the comparison simply, the general warm-up is in place to elevate body temperature whereas the specific warm-up utilizes exercises that simulate those to be performed in your training but at a lower intensity. 

Since the “specific” nature of this warm-up design activates the muscle groups in a fashion that is similar to the event you’re about to do, it acts as a perfect “rehearsal” so you don’t have a slow start in either a workout, practice, or game. 

In a perfect world, you would perform a general warm-up and then follow it with a specific warm-up before starting your hockey training.

For hockey games and practices this would mean a general warm-up 10-20 minutes before stepping on the ice, and then a more specific warm-up with skating and pucks once you step foot on the ice.

In the gym, this would mean a general warm-up before starting your workout and then starting your first exercise with some warm-up sets (the specific warm-up).

Creating Your Hockey Warm-Up

The length and intensity of a warm-up will depend very much on the level of the athlete because what may be a warm-up to one athlete may be totally exhausting to another. 

Beyond this, the nature of the workout, the temperature of where the workout is going to be performed, as well as what weaknesses an athlete currently has all play roles in how a customized warm-up would be designed. 

As mentioned previously, it’s best if you use a general warm-up first and then follow that up with a specific warm-up depending upon what it is you’re doing. 

Jogging, skipping, and dynamic flexibility movements all make for great general warm-up exercise options. 

Something as simple as 5 minutes of jogging plus 3-5 dynamic flexibility movements should make up the general warm-up.

Pretty simple here, but don’t let this simplicity undermine how many benefits we have already discussed. This is simple and effective. 

Once that’s complete, then you move into the specific nature of the warm-up which will consist of 2-5 agility/speed based movements. 

Each exercise from the general category should be performed for 1-2 sets, whereas the specific movements should ideally be performed for 2-3 sets each. 

Again, how many sets and how “hard” you make this warm-up depends on how advanced the hockey player is. 

General Hockey Warm-Up

Here’s another general warm-up that you can use before hockey games/practices or training sessions, and follow it with one of the specific warm-ups found below.

  1. Jump rope x 5 minutes
  2. Knee hug to reverse lunge x 8 per leg
  3. Walking spiderman with hip lift and overhead reach x 5 per side
  4. Yoga push up x 10
  5. Cossack squat x 8 per leg
  6. Zombie squat with reach through x 10
  7. Leg swings x 10 per leg
  8. Horizontal leg swings x 10 per leg

*Perform each movement for 1 or 2 sets each depending on current needs state based on the above criteria. 

Jump Rope x 5 minutes
Knee hug to reverse lunge x 8 per leg
Walking spiderman with hip lift and overhead reach x 5 per side
Yoga push up x 10
Cossack squat x 8 per leg
Zombie squat with reach through x 10
Leg swings x 10 per leg
Horizontal leg swings x 10 per leg

Hockey Game/Practice Specific Warm-Up

For most hockey players, the general warm-ups above will be enough to get the body ready to step out on the ice.

Once you are on the ice the “specific” warm-up before games or practices would be the first few minutes on the ice getting warm with your skating (incorporating crossovers, mohawks, long strides, etc) and some stickhandling and shooting.

Take your on-ice warm-up time seriously!

Many hockey players just “go through the motions” of a warm-up without actually focusing on getting the body prepared for the game (which is why some players and teams start slow).

By incorporating a general warm-up before getting dressed, and a specific warm-up when you are on the ice you should be 100% ready to play at full speed at the drop of the puck.

Dryland Training Specific Warm-Up

Here’s a sample specific warm-up that you would use before speed, conditioning or agility training after completing the general warm-up:

  1. A-Skips x 20 yards
  2. B-Skips x 20 yards
  3. Backpedal x 20 yards
  4. Carioca x 20 yards
  5. Skater bounds x 2 per side

*Perform each movement for 2 or 3 sets each depending on current needs state based on the above criteria. 

A-Skips x 20 yards
B-Skips x 20 yards
Backpedal x 20 yards
Carioca x 20 yards
Skater bounds x 2 per side

Weight Lifting Specific Warm-Up

When it comes to your weightlifting, the “specific” aspect of your warm-up is simple 2-4 light sets of your first exercise. 

So for a weightlifting workout, you would still perform a full general warm-up, but then you can move right to your first exercise and perform low-intensity rehearsal sets there. 

Final Thoughts

My objective with today’s article was to open your eyes as to how many benefits a hockey player can receive by doing warm-ups properly. 

I hope you were able to pick something up from this and that the sample warm-ups gave you a great general idea of how to move forward with this knowledge.

If you’re interested in becoming the best hockey player you can possibly be by applying this knowledge perfectly (alongside a ton of other dryland and on-ice work!) then you have to check out the Hockey Skills Accelerator today.

Frequently Asked Hockey Warm-Up Questions

When should I do my hockey warm-up?

Ideally, a general hockey warm-up would be done 10-15 minutes before hitting the ice.

What should you do before a hockey game?

Ensure you eat healthy and are properly hydrated in days leading up to your game, and then perform a hockey warm-up before getting your gear on.

Written by
Dan Garner
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