Does Instability Training Make Hockey Players Better?

October 19, 2012 | Conor Doherty

Must See Hockey Videos

In our society, we're constantly looking for the next big thing, something that will spark our interest and really get us excited. We constantly crave new information and seek out new devices. Well, the same idea holds true in the hockey training world.

Over the past few years, instability training has really taken off in hockey workouts. The use of wobble boards, BOSU  balls and physioballs is now commonplace among hockey players as they train for their season. (Learn about functional training.)

But do these instability devices really help a hockey player's athletic ability? Or are they just the flavor of the month? If I were to choose an answer, I'd go with flavor of the month, based on the work of a respected trainer named Eric Cressey.

In his book,  The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, Cressey discusses the origins of unstable surface training and how it is beneficial in clinical settings to reduce ankle instability. His study, published in 2007 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that replacing as little as two to three percent of total training volume with unstable surface training interfered with improvements in peak power, sprinting speed and agility in soccer players.

Obviously a soccer player and a hockey player are hard to compare, since a foot on a flat surface is different from a skate on ice. But the use of unstable training surfaces is not specific to the sport of hockey, or to any sport really.

Think about a hockey player driving to the net with the puck and being checked by a defenseman. The force applied to his body is much higher than the stable surface he's on. If that isn't enough, when was the last time you saw the ice move or wobble while you skated or watched a game on TV? Never.

If you want to incorporate instability training into your workouts, consider using exercises that involve the unstable force being applied to the upper body instead of the lower body. These types of exercises are much more relevant to the sport of hockey.

Try these upper-body exercises to add instability to your training. They will make you a better hockey player.

Suitcase Deadlift

With this exercise, you go through the same motion as a regular Deadlift, except you hold a dumbbell at your side in one hand. This creates an unstable situation, in which you have to flex your core on the opposite side of your body to remain stable.

Sets/Reps: 4x6 each side

Single-Arm Push Press

This exercise is like the Dumbbell Shoulder Press, except you stand up and use only one arm. Use your legs to give yourself a little nudge before you push the dumbbell straight up. The exercise also creates instability, since one side of the body has to work to keep the whole body stable.

Sets/Reps: 3-4x6-8 each arm

Single-Arm Dumbbell Press

Perform this exercise like a regular Dumbbell Press, except in alternating fashion. The opposite side of your body has to work to keep you stable in place while you perform the press.

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10 each arm

Pallof Cable Press

Stand sideways to the cable machine holding the handle with both hands directly in front. Pull the handle toward you and into your chest, then push out so that you end up in the starting position. This exercise is one of the best for strengthening the muscles that prevent rotation and stabilize your core, key for maintaining body position when checked by an opponent.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each side

For more hockey training information, click here.

Photo: drive.ca

Conor Doherty
- Conor Doherty, PTS, is an athletic trainer in Dryden, Ontario, who specializes in sports performance. The majority of his clients are hockey players. Learn more...
Conor Doherty
- Conor Doherty, PTS, is an athletic trainer in Dryden, Ontario, who specializes in sports performance. The majority of his clients are hockey players. Learn more...
Must See
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 84,942
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 6,579,661

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,738
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 8,003
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 131,367
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,255
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,651
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,761
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

The vertical jump (VJ) is a measure of lower body power and having a good vertical jump is necessary in so many sports.1 So how to improve it? There are...

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup