Should Youth Hockey Players Lift Weights?

Every year as a new season rolls around or the offseason begins, we get some version of the question; 

Should My Kid Be Lifting Weights? 

What age is it safe for a child to lift weights?

Will weight training stunt my player’s growth?


These are essential questions that we get asked a lot.  Should a young hockey player lift weights? The short answer; YES!

However, at Velocity Sports Performance, we seek to empower and educate you,  so let’s go a bit more in-depth.

Is Lifting Weights Dangerous for Young Hockey Players? 

Not inherently.  Now, if you let a bunch of young kids fool around in the basement or garage with a typical “bro” style workout, there are some risks.  In fact, data suggests that is where most weight training accidents occur at home.

Under the guidance of a qualified professional, supervising technique, and applying  a sound program, weight training is very safe.  Who says?  Well, here are some resources to help convince you if needed.

This has been extensively researched, and the myths that it will stunt a child’s growth or is dangerous have been disproven.

Like other professionals, our coaches take pride in providing a safe and effective training environment for our young athletes.  We want them to master the movement patterns and find satisfaction in seeing that their effort can lead to improvement.  The last thing we want is for them to ever be hurt.

Can Strength Training Help Lower Injury Risks for Hockey Players?

With so many young hockey players specializing at young ages, the risk of overuse injuries can increase.  More practices, more tournaments, and more games all add repetitive stress in the same hockey movements.

This isn’t just a hockey problem; it’s happening across youth sports.  While it may help in some skill development areas, the downside is the increased risks of overuse injury and burnout.

Overuse injuries occur when the musculoskeletal system is loaded repetitively, and the rest/recovery periods are not adequate.  They are too short for structural adaptation to take place. Overuse injuries in young athletes include apophyseal injuries, tendonitis/osis, bursitis, and bone injuries.

VIDEO: Strength training has been shown to help lower the risk of injury in sports.

Two of the ways to protect against many of these injuries can be achieved through strength training.  

  1. Build proficiency and strength in a wide range of movement patterns
  2. Strength the connective tissues and increase the stress they can tolerate

These are two of the reasons resistance training is a foundational part of Velocity programs for young athletes.  

Can Young Hockey Players Really Gain Strength From Lifting Weights?

When you think about the fact that young hockey players may not yet have the hormones circulating to really build muscle, you have to ask if they can benefit. 

At all levels of sport, resistance training is about more than building muscle. Pre-adolescents gains strength by improving motor control and neural signaling.  Improved neuromuscular coordination and recruitment lead to increases in strength, without increases in muscle size.

Building more efficient neural pathways leads to faster and better recruitment of muscle fibers during sporting movements.  Not only are the athletes improving strength now, but they are also laying down the neural pathways that will help them reach their athletic potential later.

Will Strength Training Help Young Hockey Players?

So even if it’s not dangerous, and they can get stronger, that doesn’t mean it’s useful.  Is it worth the time and effort to strength train?  Will it improve their hockey game?


Improved strength helps to improve sports performance and reduce injury risk.  That’s a benefit for every young hockey player.  

Physical performance measures like vertical jump, sprint times, and maximal oxygen consumption have been shown to improve with increased strength from resistance training.  These are all good for a young hockey player when the puck drops.

And ultimately, performance is improved by lowering injury risk.  After all, you can’t perform at all if your sitting on the bench hurt.

Can Lifting Weights Increase A Hockey Player’s Potential?

You need hockey skills and IQ to succeed on the ice, and just being a great athlete won’t be enough.  Keep in mind that a lack of physical literacy can limit your potential to improve those hockey specific skills.

This problem occurs across many sports when a player specializes early.  A young hockey player only builds the movement patterns they repeat on the ice.  

At first, this may sound great, but in reality, elite teams and coaches know it limits the player’s long-term potential.  

The best players are also good athletes.  They have a more extensive library of broad movement skills to draw on when building their hockey skills. Athletes can’t build a complete movement library on the ice alone.

We use resistance training to help young hockey players develop effective movement patterns, which will be the basis for advanced movements later in their development.

At the earliest ages for our hockey players, the focus is on building movement competencies in 7 fundamental movement patterns.  When athletes have developed the necessary proficiency, we focus on increasing the resistance.

Learn More: 7 Strength training movement patterns athletes need to master

Young Hockey Players Should Strength Train

Despite the old myths, young hockey players should use strength training to improve their performance and long term potential and to reduce the risk of injury.

To sum it all up, we know strength training:

  • helps reduce the risks of overuse injury
  • can help young hockey players develop movement patterns
  • can improve physical qualities needed in ice hockey
  • will not stunt their growth
  • is not dangerous for young players

When it’s supervised and athletes are taught properly, weight lifting is safe.

To get these benefits, experts say that young hockey players need to be taught proper technique and be supervised by trained professionals.