Skating to Success: The Essential Role of Fitness in HockeyJan 07, 2024
Being able to skate circles around your opponent isn’t just fun, it’s an essential part of the game!
When it comes to developing your hockey skills, stick-handling and puck control aren’t everything. You also need to train your body to keep up with the intensity of the sport.
From workouts to Yoga, this article explains everything you need to know about hockey conditioning. Because no matter how perfect your aim is, a puck won’t get past the goalie without some power behind it.
A Well-Rounded Hockey Training Regimen
Each hockey game is divided into three 20-minute periods. In those 20 minutes, you likely won’t spend more than 60 seconds at a time on the ice.
To make the most of those short 60 seconds, you need to be moving at top speed, with quick stops that don’t waste time, for your entire shift. Without the muscles to give you those bursts of energy after every stop and the stamina to do it over and over again, you’ll be left behind.
That’s why hockey conditioning is an essential part of your hockey training. In the whirlwind of adrenaline that is the game of hockey, only the strongest will make the goal.
What is Hockey Conditioning?
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the four types of training that make up hockey conditioning.
Kinetic Chain Workouts
A kinetic chain workout is similar to High-Intensity Interval Training that focuses on power and strength. Just take it up several notches.
Here’s how to break down your kinetic chain workout for optimal hockey conditioning:
- Create three blocks with four different sequences of exercises
- In each block, complete the sequence of exercises two to three times
- Complete each exercise for a total of 45 seconds
- Break for 10 seconds between each sequence and 30 seconds between each block
- Include at least one arm strength exercise in each block; the rest should be leg work
For it to be true hockey conditioning, you can’t skip these essential exercises:
- Bulgarian split squats
- Cossack squats
- Skater deadlifts
- Curtsy lunges
- Medicine ball box jumps
Cardio training can be divided into three different types of energy systems. All three are equally important to bring you to a competitive level of hockey.
Here’s a breakdown of the three different types of cardioenergy systems:
- ATP-CP creates a 10-second burst of energy in your body
- Anaerobic focuses on creating high amounts of energy that can be sustained for two minutes at a time
- Aerobic is the system that keeps your energy going after those first two minutes
Here are some tips on how to train each cardio energy system:
- A series of short 10-second sprints will train your ATP-CP
- Shuttle run drills that make you sprint for varying amounts of time between 30 and 60 seconds are great for Anaerobic training
- Long-distance running or long stints of skipping rope train your Aerobic energy systems
Speed and Agility
Speed and agility hockey training is all about lateral movements, with variations in height and power.
The best speed and agility drills to add to your hockey conditioning are:
- Hurdle variations
- Lateral skaters
- Ladder drills
- Ankle pogo hops
These drills can start to feel pretty repetitive after a while, so here are some tips to keep your hockey conditioning on track:
- Focus on the way you plant your foot into the ground as you push off from your position
- Try to cushion each impact so that they’re completely silent
- Squat deeply into every lateral
- Push the limits of the height you can get and the distance you can jump
Mobility training includes various stretches and exercises that loosen the tension within your body. This not only allows your muscles to develop better but also helps to prevent injury.
There are three different types of mobility training you can add to your hockey conditioning:
- Intentional mobility exercises use relaxed, methodical movements to improve flexibility
- Active Recovery exercises use body weight to build muscle while you stretch
- Release and Realign exercises use rollers to loosen knots and encourage tissue recovery
Here are some tips to ensure your mobility training is properly incorporated into your training:
- Active recovery exercises should only be done after your body has been properly warmed up
- Release and realign exercises shouldn’t be done on a muscle more than once a week
- Intentional exercises are best done in the morning before a workout
- Active recovery training should only be done three to four times a week
- Intentional training can become part of a daily morning routine
Why is Hockey Fitness Important?
Impacts on Stick Handling
Your stick may seem light as air when you first pick it up but after a few shifts of non-stop movement, it’ll feel like it’s made of solid iron.
Here’s how building arm and wrist muscle through deadlift exercises and other weight training will completely change your stick handling:
- Finer puck control with steady and precise movements
- More strength behind your stick to stop opponents from lifting it off the ground
- Faster dribbling
- Stronger muscles increase coordination and balance
- Quicker reflexes
And that’s just the advantage of basic fitness training. When you consider all the sport-specific muscle training that goes into hockey conditioning, the benefits are limitless!
Impacts on Shooting
Just like stick handling, building muscle is a necessary part of improving your shooting ability.
Each shot you take on the ice uses your arms, legs, and abs to achieve the power and aim you need to get the goal.
With the proper hockey conditioning you’ll be able to:
- Shoot the puck from farther away
- Withstand the strain of constantly bending your knees with each shot
- Successfully shoot more slap shots in a row without tiring
- Make your quick release faster
- Increase the flexibility of your abdomen to improve the swing of your stick during a slap shot
Without it, your shots and passes will get weaker and slower by the end of the game. Making it easy for your opponent to track the puck and steal the win from you.
Impacts on Skating
Lastly, hockey conditioning is the only way to gain the strength and endurance you need to skate your hardest at every moment on the ice.
Every hockey player knows that the type of stamina you need to survive your shift and the muscles that you use throughout the game are different from any other sport you play.
Each aspect of hockey conditioning works to improve your skating abilities in different ways:
- The kinetic chain workouts create the power behind your skating
- The speed and agility exercises build the muscles needed for the quick-step crossover stride
- Cardio training is your ability to get back to the net in time to stop every breakaway
- And mobility training stops your muscles from cramping and your ligaments from tearing under all that strain
Strengthen Your Game With the Right Hockey Fitness Training!
Only true hockey conditioning can bring your skills to the next level. And only the strongest players can bring their team to victory!
With a good workout schedule and our Elite-Weekly online Hockey training drills, you’ll be tearing up the ice in no time.