An Essential Guide to Hockey Dryland Training

STACK Expert Maria Mountain provides an essential guide to hockey dryland training, with sample off-season workouts.

Hockey Dryland Training

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What if there were a magic pill guaranteed to make you a better hockey player, and the only side effects were bigger, leaner muscles and more speed on the ice? You would want in on that, wouldn't you? Hockey dryland training may not be a magic pill, but it does give you the tools you need to have more stability, speed and stamina.

A properly designed hockey dryland training program must include all the right ingredients in the right sequence—flexibility, stability, strength, speed and stamina. You progress from one to the next systematically, and you train like a hockey player, not a bodybuilder or an obstacle course racer following some random workout. The following workout is specific for the demands of hockey.

RELATED: Effective Dryland Training for Hockey Players

Hockey Dryland Training Points

  • Flexibility. This often-neglected element is the foundation of your movement. If you do not have mobility in the front of your hips (and most of you don't), you expend extra energy with every stride and put stress on your lower back. Pitfall: stretching is a good start, but you also need to include self-myofascial release.
  • Stability. I'm talking about hip, knee, ankle and shoulder stability as well as core stability. Often, you will link these joints together in a functional chain, the way you use them on the ice. This type of "functional" stabilization is why some hockey players battle in the corners and along the boards more successfully than others. Pitfall: crunches do not train your stabilizers the way you need them to work on the ice.
  • Strength. I have never met a hockey player who did not want more skating speed. Developing strength (the amount of force you can produce) is the easiest way to improve your speed. Pitfall: players build bulk rather than strength. This will only slow you down.
  • Speed. Once you have expanded your envelope of strength, practice applying that force as quickly as possible. This is what determines power, which translates into more speed. Pitfall: players skip developing the foundation and try to go straight to speed training. This eventually leads to injury.
  • Stamina. No one wants to be rocketing around the ice in the first period and then dragging for the last two periods. This is where stamina comes in. Pitfall: players still think doing a 3- to 5-mile run will build their stamina for hockey. When was the last time you had a 30-minute shift on the ice? Hockey players need to be repeat sprinters.

In-Season vs. Off-Season Training

Your training should be different during the hockey season than it was during the off-season. Your off-season training should be more intense and the primary focus of your development. A typical off-season hockey training program consists of different phases of training that start by building a strong foundation and recovering from any past injuries, then building up to explosive speed and power training.

During the off-season, serious hockey players train five or six days per week. If you want to see improvements, three times per week is the bare minimum.

During the hockey season, your workouts should be more condensed, since your performance on the ice becomes the priority. Most players get good stamina training with their on-ice practices (read: bag skates) and games, so the emphasis off the ice shifts to injury prevention and maintaining or improving max strength and power production.

During the season, it is tougher to fit in your workouts, but you should get in at least two or three per week. They may only last 30-45 minutes.

Workouts for Off-Season Hockey Dryland Training

Guidelines: Do all of the "A" exercises first, then move on to the "B" exercises, then the  "C" exercises, etc. No need to rest between exercises. So no hanging around the water fountain.

  • A) 90/90 Hip Stretch: Sets/Reps - 1x30-second hold each way
  • A1) Hamstring + Rotation: Sets/Reps - 1x10 each side
  • A2) Hip Flexor + Glide: Sets/Reps - 1x10 each side
  • B) Skater Squat: Sets/Reps - 3x8 each side
  • B1) Push Up + Walk Out:  Sets/Reps - 3x8 each side
  • B2) Superman & Hold: Sets/Duration - 3x45 seconds each side
  • C) Squat Jump: Sets/Reps - 3x6
  • C1) Side Plank: Sets/Duration - 3x45 seconds each side
  • D) Skate Hop & Stick: Sets/Reps - 3x6 each side
  • D1) Seated Hip Circles: Sets/Reps - 3x6 each leg

If you are not sure how to perform the exercises, this video shows you exactly how:

This is the type of workout you should do in the last 6 weeks of the off-season

You can do this workout anywhere with minimal equipment. You will still spend time in the gym working on your Power Cleans and Sled Pushes, but this one can be done even if you lack access to a gym.

  • A) Squat Jump to Accelerate: Sets/Reps - 3x6
  • A1) Plyo Push Up: Sets/Reps - 3x8
  • A2) Single Leg Squat: Sets/Reps - 3x4 each side
  • A3) 1/2 Kneeling Bungee Row: Sets/Reps - 3x6 each
  • A4) Bungee Hip Block + Opening Step: Sets/Reps - 3x6 each way
  • A5) Bear Crawl: Sets/Distance - 3x10 yards
  • A6) Accelerate + X-Over + Sprint 10 yards: Sets/Reps - 3x4 each way (walk back for rest)

Rest for two minutes between sets.

If you are not sure how to do the exercises, this video shows you exactly how:

Worried about cardio? Give this a try

Shuttle runs are a great way to train your stamina for hockey. They teach you to change direction and work on speed even when your leg muscles are screaming. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Here's how it works.

Measure 25 yards. Make sure you have good footing in the gymnasium or on the field where you run. If you are outdoors, you might want to wear cleats so your feet don't slip.

Start early in the off-season with 100-Yard Shuttle Runs. Run back and forth twice over the 25-yard course. An elite player can do this in 20 seconds or less. Do five repetitions with two minutes of rest between reps.

As you progress through the off-season, add 200-Yard Shuttle Runs and then 300-Yard Shuttle Runs. During the last four weeks of the off-season, do a Shuttle Pyramid:

  • 2 x 300-Yard Shuttles with three minutes of rest between them
  • 3 x 200-Yard Shuttles with two minutes of rest between them
  • 4 x 100-Yard Shuttle with one minute of rest between them

Sport-Specific Training

When you map out your hockey dryland training, make sure to train movement patterns rather than individual muscles. Bicep Curls have no place in a hockey training program—unless you're going to the beach. The Hip Block + Opening Step require power development from the legs and hips with force transfer through the torso to the upper extremities. That sounds a lot more like hockey training, doesn't it?

When possible, do exercises in a standing position—or in a position where stabilization is required. For example, Push-Ups require hip and torso stabilization—the Bench Press does not.

Finally, don't get obsessed by specificity. Think of specificity as it relates to the lines of movements and muscles that need to work together. It's a mistake to mimic exactly what you do on the ice with resistance and call it hockey training. So no wearing your skates to do Squats.

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