Common Misconceptions for Hockey Training
#1: Hockey players need to get big like a bodybuilder or football player.
Here in the United States Football is the number one sport and hockey players are often compared to football players in regards to size and training. The key factor that is often missed and that these two sports are completely different in terms of physical demands and characteristics.
Hockey players need to be agile, strong, powerful and most importantly durable. It is true that hockey players need to put on some size, however, we want lean and powerful mass, not slow-moving mass. We need to train our players to be strong, powerful, quick and possess body awareness or balance. Skating occurs on one leg at a time, we push with one leg and transfer our weight and energy to the lead foot. It is imperative that we train our players on a single leg to enhance strength, balance and power transfer much like we do on the ice.
We also need to train with multiple joints working together as opposed to a single joint. Very rarely do we move using a single joint, so it doesn’t make sense to “isolate” a muscle as bodybuilders do. Our body requires multiple joints to skate and maneuver on the ice and will not require a single joint or muscle to perform an action. An example of a single joint exercise is a leg extension, which isolates the quadriceps. The quadriceps are a vital muscle in hockey, however, when we use the quadriceps we also use the hips, glutes, core and ankles. So, to incorporate these areas we need to use a multi-joint exercise such as a goblet squat or rear foot elevated split squat.
#2 Hockey players only need to run to increase their speed.
Short distance sprints are a part of our program; however, it is not the only component. Speed and acceleration come down to how much force you can push into the ground and propel yourself forward. We need to view strength as the foundation to power output. If we can increase strength, along with increasing power output, these two components will increase acceleration and speed.
Typically, the fastest players are the some of the strongest players due to how much force they can apply into the ground and how fast they can apply this force. Bottom line we need to be strong on the lower half of our body and we need to be powerful with the strength we have.
#3 Hockey players need to run long distances to improve conditioning on the ice. Long-distance runners can run for a long time, so I should be able to stay on the ice longer.
If there is one sport or activity a hockey player should avoid its cross country. Long-distance running is a steady state activity and the energy systems being used is not the same as hockey. Hockey is a fast, explosive and short activity with shifts lasting 30-45 seconds. Basically it’s an all-out sprint with changes in directions, then come to the bench and rest for 1:20-3 minutes and then repeat.
Long-distance running, on the other hand, is a steady-state activity and is not an explosive sprint. The heart is not being worked to maximal capacity and eventually, the heart rate becomes steady and cardiac output is stabilized. In a sprint, the heart is worked to maximal capacity with an increased cardiac output and heart rate. Conditioning is how well does the cardiovascular system work during activity and how fast can that person recover to their resting heart rate.
Sprinting also utilizes fast-twitch muscle fibers which are essential for power output. These are the fibers that allow us to be powerful and move quickly. Long-distance running, on the other hand, will cause these fast-twitch muscle fibers to transition to slow-twitch muscle fibers, which will cause the athlete to become less powerful and slow.
Bottom line train slow, play slow, train fast, play fast. We should consider short distance sprints with similar rests times as we would see on the ice. As the player becomes better conditioned, then the athlete can sprint for a longer time, but no more than 40 seconds. As sprint times increase the rest period should increase to allow the player to fully recover to allow for maximal power output on each sprint.
Our training program is designed specifically for hockey and has been proven to work for some of the best players in the game. The program is designed to improve movement, increase strength, power, speed, agility, durability and conditioning, all of which are essential for ice hockey. We believe that our program that you will take your game to another level and compete night in and night out. To learn more or to get started send me an email today!