Youth Hockey training has quickly become one of the most popular topics here at HockeyTraining.com. Parents, coaches, and hundreds of youth players have been all over the blogs, videos, workouts, and full hockey workout programs we have developed here and we have heard back nothing but great results.
Youth training is incredibly effective at promoting hockey performance, as well as the necessary strength and conditioning youth athletes can benefit from out there on the ice. It’s important to understand that youth athletes are not mini-adults. Adolescent and adult training volume and intensity recommendations likely exceed in almost all scenarios what’s ideal for the recoverability, safety, and “mental readiness” of youth athletes.
As a parent or coach, if you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s always best to underestimate the fitness level of the athlete and work your way up from there. Slowly work your way up to a point where the athlete finds their limit gradually over time. This is dramatically superior to coming out of the gates too strong and training the athlete too hard or presenting them with a workout or technique they can’t do.
Not only is this counterproductive for physiology, it’s counterproductive for psychology. Tying extreme difficulty, techniques they can’t properly execute that lead to frustration, and an overall “no fun” attitude to training early on can damage their love of the game and their long-term psychology towards the off-ice strength and conditioning world.
Keep it simple, keep it fun, and keep it safe.
The best part is, you can check all of the above boxes while still creating an optimal, results-producing workout program.
Moving on, it’s important to understand the fallacies that spread like wildfire about the myths behind Youth Training are simply untrue; stunted growth and extreme danger being just a couple of the many myths. For a quick rundown on this, I recommend you check out our Youth Training Myth video here.
Youth hockey workout programs should ideally be created in a manner that revolves around fatigue management. Number one, because you can only make progress based on what you can effectively recover from. Number two, because increasing levels of fatigue will lead to increasing levels of fits being thrown the moment you announce it’s time to get ready for practice or for another workout.
Nobody needs that.
All jokes aside, fatigue management is absolutely critical in the long-term development of youth athletes. One of the most important things you could ever do with an athlete in the youth stage is, not provide them information, but instill positive habits in them that they will take into their adolescent and adult lives.
Successful athletes are not successful due to single great moments of motivation, they are successful because of the positive habits they have developed over the years that have gradually lead to big picture success.
1% may not seem like a lot, but guess what that number turns into after 1% is executed 100 days in a row?
Habits form success and habits are very strongly formed in the youth years.
In order to develop habits, you need to incorporate one small easy thing for them to do at a time. You can start with one workout a week, you can start with one exercise per week, you can start with just increasing their water intake; whatever this may be, doing one thing at a time is likely going to be the most successful route for you to take here. As a basic guideline, one new thing every two weeks is a good place to start for most all youth athletes. This prevents them from being overwhelmed but also allows enough time (14-days) in order for it to actually become a habit instead of just a new event.
Youth Hockey Training Example Schedule
Once you get rolling with developing habits, the initial Youth hockey workout schedule should look a little something like:
Day 1: Total Body Workout 1
Day 2: Off
Day 3: Total Body Workout 2
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Total Body Workout 3
Day 6: Conditioning
Day 7: Off
There are many variations that can be made here, but that is the ideal starting point for scheduling. Within that scheduling, you have the structure of your programming, this programming should be sequenced in a way that prioritizes hockey performance, but also respects the needs and limitations of the youth athletes.
Here’s the structure you should be following as a parent or coach moving forward into your youth programming:
Phase 1 of the workout: A proper warm up
Phase 2 of the workout: Foundational exercises to improve fitness level and are correlated to hockey performance
Phase 3 of the workout: Cool down and stretching routine
Example Youth Hockey Workout
Here’s an example of what all three phases should look like in a youth hockey workout, taken right from our Youth Hockey Training Program:
Phase 1 Warm Up:
A: Jog for 3-5mins
B: 10 jumping jacks
C: 10 push ups
D: 10 walking lunges
E: 10 Cossacks squats
F: Hip circles x 10 in each direction
G: Big shoulder circles x 10 in each direction
H: Small shoulder circles x 10 in each direction
I: A-skips x 10yds there and back
J: B-skips x 10yds there and back
Phase 2 Workout:
A: Light DB resisted Goblet Squats – 3 x 15-20
B: Front foot elevated reverse lunge – 3 x 10/leg
C: Push ups – 3 x 10-15
D: Chin ups or DB rows – 3 x 10-15
E: Walking lunges – 3 x 8/leg
F: V-Ups – 2 x 10-15
When it comes to Youth Athletes in the Phase 2 portion of the workout, always keep the intensity low with rep ranges anywhere from 10- 30 per exercise with a preference for bodyweight-only work, while always keeping a close eye on proper technique. From a non-bodyweight perspective, youth athletes can also safely use light dumbbells, medicine balls, and light weighted sled drags throughout their programming.
What you want to stay away from in Phase 2 is directly loading the spine; squats, overhead press, etc. It’s also wise to stay away from barbell movements in general, it’s unnecessary at this point in time and to be later introduced in adolescence. Stick to dumbbells, body weight, medicine balls, and light sleds.
To see this workout performed in real time, check out Kevin’s video on YouTube here.
Phase 3 Cool down and stretch routine:
A: Grounded frog stretch
B: Grounded glute stretch
C: Seated piriformis stretch
D: Hip flexor stretch
E: Calf/Achilles stretch
*Instead of counting, perform each stretch for 10-15 deep diaphragmatic breaths.
To watch this excellent hockey specific speed development stretching strategy in real time, check out our video on YouTube here.
And that’s a wrap!
Lots of variations and information here for you to work with. Youth athletes can and should be doing off-ice work throughout the year in order to develop their bodies, minds, and performance to become the best hockey player’s they can be. It’s safe, effective, healthy; and when you incorporate the once-at-a-time habit building strategy, it can be a very fun and great way for you to bond with your kid or athlete.
If you’re a hockey parent I highly recommend you pick up our Youth Hockey Training Guide to learn more about youth hockey training, including a 2-phase training program that will help make your kid a better hockey player!