Ice hockey is a tough and physically demanding sport, and you’ll have to be physically and mentally tough to succeed as an athlete in ice hockey. This requires you to have enough energy to last through the game, accelerate really fast, stop almost instantaneously, and still deliver enough power into your shots.
Though hockey fitness and hockey-specific nutrition go hand-in-hand, this article will mainly focus on hockey fitness drills as ways to increase your explosive power, strength, agility, and cardio fitness. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Wind Sprints/Explosive Running
Sprinting exercises are among the best hockey fitness drills that increase your explosiveness on ice. The best thing about them? You can do them anywhere, in your local park or track, in your backyard, or at the gym.
Intermittent sprinting is one of the best conditioning workouts for building muscle memory in your legs. They allow you to output bursts of speed when chasing down a puck, which is crucial to your overall hockey performance.
These exercises can be done in any order and duration. However, a 10:45 ratio seems like a good testing ground – sprint for 10 seconds, with 45 seconds of cool down. Alternate sprinting and rest periods four to six times, and adjust the ratio according to your fitness level. Depending on your level of fitness, you can make more extended resting periods.
Wind sprints are similar, but instead of complete resting cooldowns, you’re only lowering the intensity of your run. The best way to go about wind sprints is to sprint for 10 seconds and repeatedly reverse the process.
Since you’re training for explosive skating outbursts, it’s always a good idea to perform these exercises with inline skates instead of running. Liking this article so far? Then check out Hockey Always for more hockey tips and review guides.
Pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent exercises for building upper-body strength and muscle and only require a suspended horizontal bar, like a doorway chin-up bar.
Both pull-ups and chin-ups involve pulling yourself up as high as possible, allowing your chest to reach the height of the bar. However, the difference between the two exercises is in the grip and palm placement.
With pull-ups, your hand a pronated position, with your palms facing forward away from you. Chin-ups are a different story. Though the movement is basically the same, chin-ups keep your hands in a supinated position, with your palms facing you. Additionally, your hands are likely to be wider apart during pull-ups than during chin-ups, which require a narrower grip.
The difference in grip and hand placement is ultimately what separates the two exercises, as they lead to different muscle group activation. Pull-ups are more effective at targeting your back and shoulder muscles, while chin-ups work more on your chest and biceps. And why does upper-body strength matter for ice hockey?
Well, nothing takes more beating than your shoulders, so adding strength and muscle reduces the chance of injury or your opponent knocking you off the puck.
Stickhandling drills are fantastic for off-season conditioning, as they allow you to be more comfortable with the feel of the puck during game-time. However, these drills can be difficult to perform while off-ice unless you have a smooth surface in your home, like a tile floor.
Stickhandling drills are best performed with your skates on but without actually skating, which would allow you to focus more on your hands. You can comfortably use inline skates if you’re practicing on a tile floor in your home. Drive the puck back and forth into an L pattern and then into a triangle, with your stick, mixing and matching the movements.
Make sure to feel the puck on your stick’s blade, utilizing your peripheral vision to track its movements. Make sure you’re watching forward, as you need to see the game. Remember to use different patterns, like Ls, triangles, horizontal and vertical 8s, etc. These will help you strengthen your wrists, and soften your feel of the puck, subsequently increasing the level of control you have over the puck’s movement.
We already covered the basic upper-body and lower-body exercises, so we just need to connect the two areas with some core-strengthening workouts, such as mountain climbers. Mountain climbers are a fantastic cardio and core exercise, as it allows hockey players to maintain better balance and stability on ice while also building up endurance.
Start the exercise by placing your hands on the floor, assuming a position similar to a sprinter getting set for a run. Now pull the knee of your fully extended leg to your chest, and extend the leg that was in a forward position. Alternate the legs, pulling one knee in, while pushing the other knee out. Just remember to breathe correctly – alternate inhales and exhales with each leg change.
The hockey fitness drills described in this article are very popular among professional and amateur hockey players, and for a good reason – they’re effective. By adhering to these hockey fitness drills, you’ll increase the overall level of your fitness and empower yourself to dominate the game, and ensure a spot on the team.