Powering Through: 5 Key Fitness Routines for Better Stick Handling

Apr 02, 2024

In high-intensity sports like hockey, fitness training and building up strength are just as important as building muscle memory and skills.

Basic hockey conditioning usually focuses on your legs and core. But you’ll also need specific arm and wrist strength exercises to really improve your stickhandling.

So read on for a list of some hockey fitness training routines and any tips and tricks you need to know to bring your stick work to the next level!



Arm Strength Training

1. Pull-Up Routines

When it comes to ripping shot after shot on the ice, there’s no better hockey fitness training than a pull-up routine.

Why are pull-ups different from other arm-strength training exercises, like deadlifts?

  • The different grips and hand positions make pull-ups more versatile
  • Pull-ups focus on the muscles in your upper body more than other arm exercises
  • Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups mimic natural movement and create more functional muscle strength

How should I build my pull-up hockey fitness training routine for best results?

  • Never do more than 15 reps of a single pull-up style before taking a 60-second break
  • Complete two to three sets of each style before moving on to the next
  • Your routine should only include four to five different styles to prevent injury
  • If you can, make a pull-up bar out of an old hockey stick for better grip training

When choosing which pull-up variations to add to your routine, think about what muscles you haven’t worked on in a while. You also don’t want to overwork a single muscle too much.

Check out this list of the variations and how they target your muscles to help make your decision:

  • Wide grip pull-ups focus on your lat muscles
  • Close-grip pull-ups focus on your biceps
  • A supinated grip puts more emphasis on the rhomboids and traps in your upper back
  • A pronated grip puts more emphasis on the latissimus dorsi muscles in your upper back
  • A mixed grip balances that muscle engagement
  • Gripping towels wrapped around the bar instead of the bar itself emphasizes your grip and wrist strength even more

2. Deadlift Routines

Deadlifts are another popular exercise in the hockey fitness training world that shouldn’t be missed.

How do deadlifts differ from pull-ups?

  • Deadlifts focus on building muscle in your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and core
  • They aren’t bodyweight exercises, so they can be made harder as you improve
  • Deadlifts simulate a vertical lift movement that works the joints in your hips, while pull-ups focus on a more horizontal pull that works the joints in your shoulders

Hockey fitness training requires hard work. But you also don’t want to push yourself to the point of injury. Follow these tips to keep your deadlift routine challenging and safe at the same time:

  • Never do your deadlift routine more than twice a week
  • The ideal routine includes three sets of four deadlift exercises
  • Beginners should only deadlift 45 to 60 percent of their body weight
  • Never do more than ten reps of a single deadlift exercise
  • Increase weight gradually with slow intervals instead of jumping ahead

Any variation of the deadlift is a great choice for your routine, but here are some of the best for hockey-specific fitness training:

  • Sumo deadlift
  • Lunge deadlift
  • Skater deadlift
  • Romanian deadlift 


3. Medicine Ball Routines

Adding the dynamic movement of a medicine ball routine to your hockey fitness training helps to increase your agility while you build your strength.

Here’s how to create the perfect medicine ball hockey fitness training routine for you!

  • Skip rope for two minutes
  • Spend another two minutes on dynamic stretches
  • Work on building power for your wind-up with one minute of medicine ball Russian twists
  • Enhance the speed of your dekes with one minute of medicine ball lateral hop and sticks
  • Work on your explosive shooting power with one minute of medicine ball rotational scoop tosses
  • Build your cardio and stamina with one minute of medicine ball burpees
  • Take 30-second breaks between each exercise and a one-minute break after the full set
  • Repeat all four medicine ball exercises
  • Finish with five minutes of cool-down stretches

Why are dynamic exercises so important for hockey fitness training?

  • They put more emphasis on your coordination throughout your strength training
  • They often include explosive moves that translate perfectly to hockey gameplay
  • The more exaggerated movements are more versatile than static deadlift or pull-up maneuvers, changing how your muscles react each time



Grip Training

1. Hand Gripper Routines

When it comes to improving your shot, your hockey fitness training isn’t just about how much power you can put behind your stick. It’s also about how well you can hold onto the stick while that power is being released.

Strengthening your grip is an essential part of enhancing your shot techniques, and this is one of the best routines for the job:

  • 14 reps of normal crush grips
  • 10 reps using a pinch grip
  • 10 reps of open crush grips
  • 10 reps of supporting crush grips

The routine may seem short, but don’t be fooled. When done right, hand gripper routines are killer on the wrists.

Follow these tips to keep your grip training on track:

  • Remember to go slow and use the proper form rather than rush through the reps
  • Control the release of your hand gripper just as much as the crushing of it
  • Focus on using every finger evenly throughout the reps
  • Take a 30-second break between each exercise

Finding the perfect grip crusher is important for the overall success of your hockey fitness training. So here are some tips to help you make your choice:

  • Find something with a wide range of an adjustable weight; for beginners, it should go as low as 30 pounds of resistance
  • The weight resistance you choose should allow you to complete each rep with the correct form while still offering a challenge
  • Check the resistance pattern of your grip crusher to ensure it focuses on overall grip strength
  • Ensure the materials are durable by testing it out before you buy it


2. Wrist Curling Routines

Wrist mobility is the final step of your hockey shot fitness training. Build muscle and widen your range of motion to bring your shot to the next level with this wrist curling routine:

  • Warm up by doing wrist circles and finger stretches
  • Do 15 reps of dumbbell wrist curls
  • Spend one minute on a weighted wrist roller exercise
  • Do 15 reps of reverse wrist curls
  • Spend one minute doing a pinch carry, sideways wrist curl

Why are wrist curls such an important part of your hockey fitness training?

  • Increasing your wrist strength makes it easier for you to keep control of the puck
  • Wrist curls push your wrist's range of motion and improve your agility when stickhandling
  • They allow for more power in your wristshot
  • Building muscle in your wrist helps prevent injury



Improve Your Shot In No Time With These Hockey Fitness Training Routines!

Take your hockey fitness training to the next level with these five essential arm and wrist strength routines!

For more tips and ideas for improving your hockey conditioning, be sure to check out some of our other blog posts!