When developing a dry-land training program, hockey players and their strength coaches need to consider many factors to ensure that it is effective and leads to athletic development.
Some of the factors are obvious—e.g., age and development level. A veteran NHL player will not follow the same plan as 20-year-old Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle, or as a 13-year-old bantam house league player. Also, simple differences in physical maturity between male and female athletes of the same age must be taken into consideration.
Other factors are more long-term and developed. Effective dry-land training requires a properly phased program, including workouts that are individually broken down. An athlete’s program should have small and medium goals that lead to his or her long-term development. Every exercise performed should have a reason, and progressions done correctly should link together like puzzle pieces—creating a better athlete overall.
At the simplest level, athletic development for hockey is structuring an individual workout to get the most out of an athlete. And with a basic program to follow, it can work for any age, skill level and degree of commitment. From the time an athlete shows up at the gym to when he or she is walking out the door, the workout structure should be designed correctly and efficiently.
For the most part, I use the following template to develop my players’ workouts:
Skip, bike or jog for five to 10 minutes; this increases physiological and psychological levels.
The athlete spends 20 to 40 minutes going through a series of exercises to increase range of motion; activate specific muscles and muscle groups; and wake up the central nervous system [CNS] to increase efficiency and reaction speed for movement patterns. I start to blend this phase with the next one, but some exercises can fit under either heading.
CNS development focuses on speed, agility, quickness and power [SAQP] training. During this time, the athlete works on various high-intensity exercises, never allowing fatigue to harm technique. The exercises include plyometrics as well as other agility drills such as speed ladders, mini hurdles, jump training and sprints. For older athletes, this phase may include Olympic lifts, as does the next phase.
Power and Strength
This phase can include any exercises that involve resistance training. According to livestrong.com, “resistance is simply putting a load on a muscle, making it move against a force. That force might be external, such as a weight, or it might be internal, like another muscle in your body.”
Energy System Development
This can actually be done on a separate day, involving as little as 15 to 20 minutes of work. It includes threshold training, jogging or biking to specific agility patterns for longer duration.
Flexibility training, such as stretching and rolling out with a foam roller, and even ice baths and massages, are as vital as any other aspect of the workout, because they allow better nutrient transportation and recovery for the next event.
After the end of a workout, it’s time to refuel the tank!
Doug “Crash” Crashley is the president of Crash Conditioning, a hockey performance center in Calgary, Alberta. Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and nominee Mike Green, along with other NHL players and prospects, come to Crash each year to prepare for their seasons. Crashley’s training focuses on enhancing hockey performance through both physiological and psychological conditioning. He has been a lecturer and presenter for Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, Nike Hockey and CBC Hockey Night on Canada’s Hyundai Nation. His work has been featured in Hockey Now, Royals Report, Hockey Calgary and STACK magazine.