Building a Better Hockey Program

Whether you are a competitive athlete or just looking to improve your game, year round training programs will give you an edge on the competition.  Most hockey teams have an on ice training program in place, and they highly encourage their players to train off ice as well.  The purpose of this article is to discuss the conditioning program on dry land.

When it comes to dry land training there are many components that need to be included in the program.  It needs to be based on what the player wants to achieve on the ice and what they do during the game.  In other words, the program needs to be sport specific.  That said, the program should consist of the following : aerobic power, anaerobic endurance, strength, muscular endurance, explosive speed, core strength, agility, and flexibility.

When developing a resistance training program for a hockey player one thing that needs to be paramount is that you are not training a body builder.  The movements of a hockey player need to be specific in nature to produce the maximum amount of speed and power.  And you also want to ensure the program changes to adapt to the hockey seasons. Training should be more intense in the off-season and should taper heading into the preseason to give the body a chance to rest and prepare for the physically demanding hockey season.   Below is a sample of how to divide up the program during the year.

————————————–In Season———————————

Oct      Nov    Dec      Jan    Feb     Mar    Apr 

–Off Season——————————————-Pre-Season—————

 May              Jun             Jul              Aug              Sep

Developing Aerobic Power and Anaerobic Endurance

Interval Training increases aerobic power and improves cardiorespiratory endurance.  It also increases the tolerance of lactic acid build up which is very beneficial to the hockey player.  Interval training is timed, short,and  intense bouts of exercise paired with longer rest breaks; similar to the shifts in a hockey game.  These intervals can be performed just about anywhere; on a running track, a stationary bike or in a pool. 

Increased Strength

To increase your strength you need to focus on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, split squats, bench press, military press and hang cleans.  These exercises are typically performed by power lifters or elite athletes and require proper instruction and a spotter.  If you are thinking of including them in your workout, please focus on learning the technique and proper form first, and then increase the weight.  The goal of these types of exercises is to increase your overall strength and speed.

Explosive Speed

Players are expected to achieve full speed in the shortest time possible.  The team that has control of the puck is most likely to score.  So players need to be able to out skate their opponent.  There are a host of drills and exercises that could be incorporated into this category, but for now here are a few ideas.  You can begin with stair sprints, sled drags, or plyometric jumps.


Quite often the role of the core in sports is highly overlooked.  In the sport of hockey most players lack enough core strength to properly stabilize themselves in the quick turns and rotations involved in the game.  In essence, a strong and flexible core will produce more efficient movements for the player.  Here are some examples of hockey specific core exercises : medicine ball crunch, bird dogs, medicine ball windmill slams, medicine ball side throw, front plank, side plank.


As a hockey player you want to train your body to accelerate, decelerate,and turn on a dime in any given direction.  Agility training consists of multiple footwork patterns, agility ladder drills, and plyometric jumps.  This is an important part of dry land training and should not be overlooked.


When you look at the injuries that most hockey players suffer most involve the groin, hips, quadriceps, and hamstrings.  Flexibility training is important to decrease the risk of injury and to improve skill execution.  The focus of the flexibility training should target the lumbar and thoracic regions of the spine, the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and groin.  The health and flexibility of the upper body muscles are also important as they are essential in stick handling and shooting the puck.  The areas to target are the chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.  Increase your flexibility, and you improve your recovery time and decrease your risk of injury.

There are many points to consider when developing your own conditioning program for hockey and it can be overwhelming at times.  My advice to you if you want to do it for yourself, is to stop and take a look at what a player is expected to do on the ice.  Break the workout down into the different categories I have listed above and transfer those movement patterns to the gym.  If you are still not sure of where to start, I recommend asking a professional to do a proper assessment of the athlete and build a custom program.


About Lisa

Lisa is a Certified Personal Trainer who is passionate about fitness and living an active lifestyle. She has a strong background in nutrition, having been a Chef for almost 15 years and applies this knowledge to helping her clients achieve their goals.
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