Winning Battles Is Essential To Winning Hockey Games
For every goal scoring play in a hockey game, there were two or three plays that came just before that made it possible. Often these plays take the form of battles along the wall or in the corners. These are the puck battles that every player has to be ready for.
Players that help their team score goals – or stop them – are the type of players coaches want on their teams. Winning 1-on-1 puck battles is one way to stand out in the eyes of these coaches, and helps the team.
As the level of play rises, it takes extraordinary skating skills, speed, puck control, and hockey sense to battle and compete 1-v-1 effectively.
Along with skill work on the ice, developing players can improve their ability to win puck battles by improving strength. Unfortunately, while any strength training will help some for a complete novice, it has to become more specific as the level of play increases.
So, how do players do the right type of strength training to battle harder?
Build The Core
Puck battles often look like a wrestling match on skates. Opposing players are battling to gain leverage and position so they can control the puck.
Any player that wants to be successful, as well as avoid injuries, needs a strong core.
We aren’t talking six-pack abs and sit-ups. The core strength a hockey player needs helps them to resist movement. Resist movement is what allows a player to transmit forces from the powerful lower body into an opponent. It’s what helps them resist being moved out of position by the other player.
Here are two exercises hockey players can use to build strength and resist movement.
Develop A Strong Foundation
While many players watch a puck battle and see the work in the upper body pushing and pulling, they need to realize the biggest forces are being generated by the lower body. To keep body position and gain leverage, the legs need to be really strong and powerful.
These three strength exercises build lower body strength and power that helps winning battles in hockey.
Increase Rotational Power To Win Battles
While trying to gain leverage, or resist an opposing player, large rotational forces are created during puck battles. That means a hockey player needs both the ability to generate and resist rotational forces.
But where do rotational forces occur?
The hips and thoracic (upper back/chest) spine are where rotation should occur. The large muscles of the hip generate torque to rotate, and a solid core transmits them to the upper body to battle with the opponent.
These exercises build rotational power hockey players can use.
Bulletproof Your Shoulders To Survive The Boards
Crashing into the boards while battling for the puck can add wear and tear to the shoulders of any hockey player. To build the durability for contact in the shoulders, hockey players need to develop their strength and stability.
While traditional strengthening like bench press, shoulder press, and side raises are useful, hockey players need functional strength. This means strength that ties together the glenohumeral joint, scapular stability, and thoracic mobility.
The Turkish getup ties together shoulder and core stability and is a staple for athletes. Additionally, a routine of basic stability exercises can be added to any program to promote more stability.
Coaches Want Players Who Battle Hard To Win The Puck
Developing players and their parents may be most impressed by scoring goals, but hockey teams must win battles to score. Coaches are impressed by players that battle hard in all three zones.
Building the right strength will help improve the confidence and resilience hockey players need. Battle harder and win the puck with improved strength.
Learn More: Five Exercises to Help You Battle In The Corners