The Chicago Blackhawks took home the 2015 Stanley Cup. Since it’s their third in the last six years, you can officially consider them a hockey dynasty. One constant on each of their championship teams has been their defensive stopper Duncan Keith.
Keith was more important than ever in this year’s playoff run. His clutch performance, tough and consistent defensive play and smart decision making helped him earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Keith especially excelled late in games, making big plays in overtime and scoring two game-winning goals—one of which sealed the championship in Game 6 of the Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also logged an insane 31:06 minutes per game and clocked 700 minutes this post-season—only the fourth player in NHL history to hit that mark.
This performance didn’t come out of nowhere. Keith trains hard in the off-season under the guidance of Doug Crashley, owner of Crash Conditioning. Crashley puts Keith—and many other pro hockey players—through a comprehensive training program designed to increase his stride power and overall strength on the ice so he can blast shots from the point or outmuscle opponents along the boards.
This work has made Keith one of the most reliable defenseman in the NHL, and its a big reason why Keith will have his name etched on the Cup for a third time.
Here’s a look at some of the training Keith does at Crash Conditioning.
In this exercise, Keith jumps from one leg to the other, which helps him with cuts and lateral movement on the ice.
- Keep your toes and hips pointed forward.
- Use your arms to help move your lower body.
- Land on the balls of your feet with your toes pointed up and knees slightly bent.
Sets/Reps: 3×5 each leg
Standing Broad Jumps
Broad Jumps are a good way to work on leg power and acceleration. “Any time we can produce more power with our legs, it’s going to benefit us as hockey players, that’s our bread and butter,” says Crashley.
- Propel your body up and out by fully extending your hips, knees and ankles.
- Use your arms to create momentum.
- Land on the balls of your feet with a slight bend in your knees.
- Perform jumps rapidly with minimal time on the ground.
Performing this move increases Keith’s power when driving off the ground at a 45-degree angle, exactly how he strides on the ice.
- Bound off the ground at a 45-degree angle.
- Begin by holding the landing position; progress to continuous bounding.
- Keep your back flat and your chest up.
- Use your arms to help while bounding.
- Aim for maximum height and distance on each bound.
- Land on ball of your foot and use your hips, knees and ankles to cushion the landing.
- Perform continuously as quickly as possible.
Sets/Reps: 2×20 meters
Dumbbell Squat Jumps
This is another max power exercise. The more force Keith can put into the ground, the faster and more powerful he’ll be on the ice.
- Use proper squat form: back flat, chest up, hips back and knees behind your toes.
- Lower until your knees are bent at about 120 degrees.
- Use 10 to 20 percent of your body weight for resistance.
- Explode up for maximum height.
The Single-Leg RDL increases strength in the glutes and hamstrings, two muscles that are critically important for your skating stride and other hockey skills, such as shooting and body checking. It also increases stability in the hips and core, important when striding and maintaining balance off one leg.
- Balance on one leg and keep your opposite leg bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold the weight in the hand opposite your balancing leg.
- Keep your back flat and your neck in neutral position.
- Bend at the hips and keep your knees behind your toes.
- Use control going up and down.
Sets/Reps: 3-4×5-12 each leg
Physioball Alternating Dumbbell Bench
Keith strengthens his chest with the Physioball Alternating Dumbbell Bench. He doesn’t use heavy weight, instead focusing on performing quality reps and maintaining balance. It’s especially important for Keith to be able to drive his arms against opponents when trying to overtake them in front of the net or in the corner, without losing control of his body.
- Use a physioball that allows you to bring the weight down to chest level.
- Place your shoulder blades on the physioball, bridge your back and bend your knees at 90 degrees.
- Keep your torso parallel to the ground.
Lateral Resistance Band Squat
Placing a band above your knees while you squat puts the focus on the glutes. It also helps to prevent your knees from buckling, creating an ideal situation for maximum power. This position creates a solid and strong position for Keith to stride from.
- Place a band around your legs above the knees.
- Focus on maintaining proper squat form: back flat, chest up, hips back, knees behind toes and feet slightly wider than hip-width.
- Keep toes and knees pointed forward.
This is a power or power-endurance exercise, pushing Keith to maximize his power quickly and repetitively. Crashley says that this is great for Keith, because hockey is a power-repetitive and power-endurance sport. The drill also helps Keith work through fatigue to prepare him for those double overtime games.
- Perform Clean, Front Squat, Push Press and Back Squat in circuit fashion.
- Maintain proper squat form: back flat, chest up, hips back, knees behind toes and feet slightly wider than hip-width.
- Use your hips and legs to press the weight overhead.
- Bring our thighs below parallel in both the Front Squat and Back Squat.
- Start with light weight and focus on form.
Sets/Reps: 3×5 with 4 minutes rest