Don’t wait until the season is nearly upon you to begin your off-season workouts. Take advantage of the time before the season starts to get in some creative and simple hockey drills geared toward hockey players. This off-ice training should be part of your hockey workouts, conditioning, and skills drills to ensure you are ready to play better hockey when you hit the ice for the first practice of the season.
In this video, Pat Gigante, owner and head trainer at Xcelerated Performance, shows hockey players how to use the Russian Box to strengthen their core and lower half for a more explosive stride on the ice.
The Russian Box
This hockey drill is a strength building drill that teaches muscle memory and will help with your cardio as well. The main purpose is to build the muscles needed to allow you to maintain hip height form to create and maintain skating speed on the ice. Without good hip height, a skater is more likely to come out of the good skating form after a couple of strides and stand more erect, reducing the power that can be produced by maintaining the correct form. The reason skaters do not maintain good form is a lack of strength.
This drill utilizes a device called the Russian Box, which provides a strength and range of motion workout that increases core strength, leg strength, balance, speed, and agility. Its original use was for hockey players, but now it is incorporated into workouts for any athlete who needs explosive leg power.
Keys to the Drill
- Position yourself on one side of the Russian Box. Weight is on the outside (uphill) leg, with opposite arm in front as if frozen mid-stride. Hips are low, leg bent at the knee, and body slightly bent at the waist yet chest up and facing forward.
- While performing the exercise, keep your head level and eyes straight ahead. Do not look side to side to see where you will land.
- The action is to leap upward and to the other side of the Russian Box, and land on the opposite leg, balanced.
- During this motion, you pump your arms as if taking a stride on the ice, so when you land on the opposite leg, the arms change position.
- When you land, hold the pose while maintaining your balance before leaping back to the other side.
- Repeat this effort to exhaustion, maintaining form throughout.
If you don’t have access to a Russian Box, perform the exercise on flat ground but make sure you are gaining height when you jump side to side, and maintain correct posture throughout.