Progressive Off-Season Training for Ice Hockey | STACK Coaches and Trainers
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Progressive Off-Season Training for Ice Hockey

April 10, 2014

Must See Hockey Videos

When it comes to sports that take a heavy toll on the body, ice hockey is unquestionably at the top of the list.

From the postural position required to skate effectively, to the intense metabolic demands and the tremendous amount of physical contact—it's no wonder so many players come limping into the off-season.

Range of Motion and More

It is, of course, important to get players started on an off-season plan designed to increase their strength, speed and power. But the first step should be to help them restore lost range of motion and simultaneously work to rebalance strength levels around key joints like the shoulders, hips and knees. Training should also devote serious attention to getting out of the anterior pelvic tilt/severe lumbar lordosis for which hockey players are notorious—because, although it's all well and good to increase range of motion around a joint, it makes little sense to do so (and may actually increase one's risk of injury) without also developing strength throughout that newfound range.

At the same time, you don't necessarily want to focus your strengthening efforts on muscle groups that are chronically tight and overused. Understanding this concept will help you make better sense of the training approach outlined below.

RELATED: The Best Hip Flexor Stretching Sequence for Hockey Players

Core Training

The same type of progressive thinking should also apply to core training. Piling difficult exercises like Wheel Rollouts, Medicine Ball Slams and Landmines on top of faulty pelvic mechanics is a sure-fire way to invite injury. Sure, these are all great drills; but when your hips are so tight that the risk of doing them outweighs any potential reward, you might want to take a pass—at least until you've done some initial work to address the issue and eventually improve your ability to adopt a more neutral spine posture while executing them.

RELATED: 3 Core Workouts That Translate to the Ice

Stretches and Strengthening

Once our players start filtering in at the end of the season, after we give them a week or so off to recover, our first phase of training combines active stretches for muscles that are chronically tight with strengthening exercises for muscles that directly oppose them. A perfect example for a hockey player would be an active stretch for the hip flexors and quads, followed immediately by a strengthening exercise for the glutes. Once the muscles that act on the front of the hip have been sufficiently loosened up by this combination, only then will we target them with a strengthening exercise, albeit at a slightly reduced volume.

For example, after the players perform a second set of the active hip stretch and glute strengthening drill, we add a hip-flexor-strengthening exercise like the Mini-Band High Knee March. This way we address the need to strengthen a muscle that's been significantly shortened through overuse, but in way that doesn't exacerbate the existing imbalance.

The same approach can be applied to other areas, the rationale being that by opening up the tight muscle group immediately prior, the strengthening exercise elicits a more forceful contraction through a larger range of motion in the opposing muscle group, while also producing an improved strength response when you go back to the previously restricted side of the joint.

Off-Season Hockey Workout

Below is a sample of what a Phase One total body workout looks like. Check out the following video to see all of the drills in action.

Note: All workouts during this phase are preceded by 7 to 10 minutes of thorough soft tissue work using a high density foam roller, or Rumble Roller, along with either a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball, depending on the athlete.

For each letter grouping, perform exercises 1 and 2 twice before doing exercise 3. This keeps the training volume biased towards correcting any existing imbalances.

  • A1: 3-Way Hip Flexor/Quadriceps Bench Stretch - 2x4 rounds
  • A2: Unilateral Supine Bridge - 2x8-10
  • A3: Mini-Band High Knee March - 1x5-6 reps per side, alternating
  • B1: Active Isolated Pec Stretch - 2x8-10
  • B2: TRX Row - 2x10-12
  • B3: Neutral Grip Incline DB Press - 1x6-10
  • C1: Lateral Shift - 2x5-6 per side, alternating
  • C2: Mini-Band Hip Abduction - 2x 8-10 per side
  • C3: Cross Body Skater's Stance Adduction - 1x6-10 per side
  • D1: Band Lat Stretch - 2 sets
  • D2: High Kneeling Kettlebell Shoulder Press - 2x8-10 per side
  • D3: Scapular Pull-Ups - 1 set

Core Circuit: Emphasis on reducing excessive lower back arch and activating deep core muscles.

  • Iron Crosses - 2x10-12 alternating sides
  • Long Lever Plank with Posterior Pelvic Tilt - 2x30 seconds
  • Stability Ball Back Extension - 1 set

With this type of formula in place, a good strength coach or dedicated player can come up with any number of drill pairings to keep the workouts mentally stimulating while accomplishing the task at hand. This way, when a more traditional training approach is employed in Phase Two, athletes will have a much better movement foundation and will likely see a marked improvement in their strength. Best of all, they'll rest assured knowing that the gains they are making will help them avoid injury by contributing to balanced development.

Read more: 

Mike Mejia
- Mike Mejia is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of BASE (Balance, Agility, Strength, Endurance) Sports Conditioning Inc., a company that provides...
Mike Mejia
- Mike Mejia is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of BASE (Balance, Agility, Strength, Endurance) Sports Conditioning Inc., a company that provides...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

4 Lifts to Build Wrestling Strength

To build a foundation of wrestling strength, it will require minimal equipment but persistent progression. Isolation type exercises such as curls and...

Master the Lateral Lunge to Improve Your Hockey Stride

Notice On-Court Results With This Basketball Core Workout

7 Strategies for Dealing With a Meathead in Your Gym

How to Design a Greco-Roman Wrestling Training Program

How Often Should You Vary Your Exercise?

Build Powerful Pecs With This Multi-Angle Chest Workout

10 Ways to Get Stronger With a Sandbag

Top 5 Baseball Strength Training Myths

Blast Through Plateaus with Tempo Sets

How Functional Training Has Overly Complicated Strength Training

7 Ways to Work Out Competitively Without CrossFit

4 Weaknesses That Can Ruin Your Exercise Technique (With Fixes)

Dominate Your Bench Test With This Strategy

Get a Ripped Core With 6 Advanced Dead Bug Variations

4 Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Strong Core

3 Explosive Exercises Designed to Increase Pitching Power

The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

The Simplest Bodyweight Workout Ever

3 Post-Activation Potentiation Combos for Explosive Strength

5 Softball Catcher Drills for Throwing Power

Don't Train Your Arms Until You Can Do These 4 Things

5 Isolation Exercises Your Workout Is Missing

A Better Way to Train Your Core

Perfect Your Squat Technique With the Unloaded Squat

Get Faster by Improving Your Core Mobility

4 Exercises to Build True Lacrosse Power

Kyle Lowry's 12-Week All-Star Training Program

Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position

7 Best Lower-Body Strengthening Exercises

Break Through Plateaus With the 1-10 Drop Set Method

Build Full-Body Strength With 5 Suspension Trainer Exercises

3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

Make Lifts More Challenging With Resistance Bands

Develop Core Strength for Throwing

7 Exercises That Safely Build Shoulder Strength

Improve Your Back Strength with the Inverted Row

7 Strategies for Faster Workout Recovery

4 Deadlift Variations to Increase Your Pull

These 3 Single-Leg Movements Will Improve Your Squat Technique

7-Exercise Core-Blasting Workout

3 Sandbag Training Mistakes Athletes Make

Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy