No two athletes are made the same, and no two sports are played the same way. To train properly for hockey, you need to be conscious of its unique demands. (See how Mike Green builds full-body power.)
A few special things need to be considered when training for hockey. For example, since players wear skates, they have to push their legs out to the side more than in other sports. Also, hockey players spend a lot of time in a bent-over position, lining up for a faceoff, accelerating on the ice or just sitting on the bench between shifts.
So if a hockey player trains like other athletes, he or she is probably making a few mistakes. Mistakes happen, but they can often be avoided with smart programming and advice.
Here are five mistakes you might be making in your hockey training program:
Skipping Soft Tissue Work
The game of hockey places huge demands on the inner (adductor) and outer (abductor) leg muscles. Pushing out to the side of the body with a skating stride can cause overuse injuries if these muscles are not maintained. Spend time foam rolling these areas before workouts, practices and games, or you will be setting yourself up for injury. (Learn more about foam rolling exercises.)
Misusing Static Stretches
Several studies confirm that static stretching before intense activity can actually have negative effects on performance. Instead, do dynamic stretches, which involve moving body parts through their full range of motion to activate the muscles and warm them up. Static stretching is best performed after a workout or game, to increase mobility and promote muscle recovery.
Preferring Back Squat over Front Squat
Constantly playing in a bent-over position places extra strain on the backside of the body. Doing Back Squats only adds to the strain. Instead, perform Front Squats, which reduce the load on the spine by positioning the bar over the body’s center of gravity.
Avoiding Single-Leg Training
Skating requires pushing off on one leg at a time. If you want to increase stride power equally on both sides of the body, single-leg training is a must. Plus, single-leg exercises improve lower-body stability, which is essential for preventing injuries. Good single-leg exercises are Bulgarian Split-Squats, Lunges and Single-Leg RDLs.
Doing Too Much Wrist Work
Hockey players often think that shot power is related solely to wrist strength. The fact of the matter is that shot power is generated through a series of movements that start at the feet, then transfer through the legs, torso, shoulders and arms. The last part of the movement is the snap of the wrist. If you want to generate more power in your shot, you need to focus on compound movements that increase full-body strength and core rotational power.
Take a step back and look at your hockey workouts. If you’ve been committing any of these mistakes, make the appropriate changes as soon as possible. You’ll thank yourself when you become a better hockey player.
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