When the horn sounds on the final game of the year, the off season begins. Whether you train throughout the off season, or take the time off and then work to get back in shape, hockey dryland training will have you back in form when the first puck drops. Not only will you be in better shape when the season rolls around, but you can work hard during the off season so you’ll return with first-line skills that will open your coach’s eyes and leave your opponents in awe.
Building a Foundation with Dryland Training
The key to off-season hockey training is to incorporate activities that will help you build speed and strength, stability and flexibility, and stamina. Speed is the goal of most hockey players, but without stamina, speed will die long before the third period horn sounds. Stability results from lower body strength, and flexibility will keep injuries at bay and help you maintain your form when you’re tired:
- Speed is important when you think about your dryland training for hockey. Many hockey players begin to get in shape, or try to stay in shape, on a treadmill or by heading out the door and going for a run. But you don’t need to run distances for hockey—you need to go 100 percent for a few minutes. So focus on sprints and interval training off the ice.
- Strength also plays into speed. Interval training will help you build strength for that third-period game-winner. While pounding heavy weights may help you bulk up and look good in a T-shirt, it won’t help you skate faster. Bonus points: stability is a byproduct of improved strength.
- Stamina in hockey is the ability to go hard in the third period. Jogging for an hour builds one type of stamina, but the kind you need in hockey is the ability to play full-tilt for a minute or two at a time throughout a game—you won’t achieve that by going for a long jog. Again, interval training is your best bet to develop the right kind of stamina for hockey.
- Stability and flexibility are important so your body can carry and use the strength you build and transfer it to the ice. You need stability in your joints from your ankles to your shoulders, and flexibility to allow it to flow through you.
Consult the Dryland Training for Hockey Skating DVDs for more training tips.
Off-Season Versus In-Season Training
Off-season and in-season hockey training look different. In the off season, dryland training builds a foundation for game season by preparing your body and your skills, improving core strength and stability, balance, and speed. During the season, your workouts will be about maintaining your strength and fitness, but not so much that it works against you. After all, you’ll be working hard in practice and during games so you’ll maintain a level of fitness from simply being on the ice so much. In the off season, you can challenge yourself with more difficult workouts at the gym, building a level of fitness that peaks when it’s finally time to drop the puck. Just remember, you don’t want to hit the weights so hard you add too much bulk—you need hockey fitness, strength, and speed.
Hockey Dryland Training Drills
There are a variety of dryland training drills to get yourself back into shape before the season, or to keep yourself in playing shape in between seasons. While access to weights or specialized training gear is useful, plenty of stretches, strength-building, and agility drills can be done almost anywhere. Focus on dryland stretching and strengthening exercises that work your core and improve flexibility. You can incorporate different levels and types of fitness into your off-season training over time.
- Balance – During dryland training, focus on exercises like deadlifts, switching them up to single-leg deadlifts. You can also use a Weighted Vest to add weight to your workout and ditch the dumbbells. Keep the weight light enough you can perform the exercise. This is about balance, not building huge leg muscles. Also, work the balance board alone or with stick work.
- Speed – Try interval sprints with short rest periods as well as agility ladders to build agility, foot speed, and coordination. For other drills aimed at building speed and power, check out this Training Mat printed with 24 detailed exercises.
- Strength – Building a strong core is key to playing hockey. Be sure your dryland training includes planking, rotational strength drills, and other exercises to address core strength; the SKLZ Slidez Plates or Core Wheels can increase the difficulty of these exercises to better work your core.
SKLZ Pro Bands can help provide resistance for many types of exercises to maximize the workout without weights for strength, stamina, and flexibility. Add additional resistance to your sprints with a Speed Chute. Hockey players must constantly turn, twist, accelerate and stop, and these drills will help.
Whether you use hockey training aids, or follow a schedule of stretching, lifting, and sprints, hockey dryland training will help you become a better player once the season rolls around and you can transfer all your hard work to the ice.