Hockey players know that they while they need superior hockey skills on the ice, they also need to work off the ice to keep up with the competition. You can use your off-ice training time more effectively by adding these three steps to quickly get ahead of others.
Strength and Stability on One Leg
Part of developing athletic strength is the ability to apply force the same way you do in your sport. For hockey, that means you need to be able to explosively push-off of a single leg, stabilizing the hip and core as you do it. While common strength training like squats and deadlifts are a great start, they are bi-lateral exercises (they use both legs). A great way to take your results to a higher level is to add some uni-lateral (single leg) exercises.
Training on a single leg might not let you lifts as much weight, but it will certainly lead to high levels of muscle activation while adding balance and stability to the mix. Some ways to add single leg strengthening to your mix could include:
- Single Leg RDL: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
- Lateral Box Step Up: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
Build Your Power Through Plyometrics
While basic strength training builds a foundation, you need to develop power to be more explosive on the ice. Power is the combination of strength applied with speed. Olympic lifting and plyometric exercises are two great ways that both develop strength and speed.
One of the advantages of plyometrics is that they can be performed on a single leg to work on stability and balance at the same time. They also can be done focusing on movement in vertical, horizontal, lateral, and diagonal directions. These are all things that build a better hockey player.
The list of potential exercises is long and includes any form of jumping, bounding, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. A few suggestions are:
- Squat Jump or Box Jump: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
- Lateral Jumps or Split Jumps: 3 sets x 5-8 reps per leg
- Hurdle Hops: 3 sets x 3-8 hurdles (line them up in a row)
- Clap Push-Ups: 3-5 sets x 5 reps
- Kneeling Med Ball Chest Passes: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
Train Your Core to Transmit Power
Most hockey players recognize that a strong and stable core is important for performance and preventing injuries. Unfortunately, the majority of training time is spent on crunches, sit-ups, and a long list of their variations.
There can be a place for these in training, but excessive use can actually stress the spine more and create imbalances, all while ignoring key functions of the core. We have to understand that the core isn’t designed to create and initiate diagonal or rotational movement; its key function in hockey is transmitting forces from the lower body and stabilization so you can use your upper body.
Think of both resisting movement through the core as well as making it move. Then think of training in all directions. A few suggestions could include:
- Pallof press: 8-15 reps x 3
- Diagonal Cable Chop/lift: 8-15 reps x 3 per side
- Sit-Ups: 10-15 reps x 3
- Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: 5-10 reps x 3 per side
- Side Plank: :30-:45 sec x 3 per side