When looking for an off-ice hockey training program, you will not have a shortage of choices. You will find companies selling new gadgets promising speed development. Physio-ball training for hockey players variation 1001. Ab-rollers that are the key to a rock hard core. If you step into the college weight rooms around the US, you may see one or two of these pieces. One difference.. They are all supplementary methods, not the primary focus of the training. Be careful not to get sidetracked with really technical drills or a cool new piece of equipment. More times than not, you can accomplish the same result with equipment you already own.
Here are 5 pillars of an off-ice hockey training program that will produce results.
- Strength Training- Make sure you are in the weight room working with loads and other forms of resistance. Too many programs only include the physio-ball and use trendy terms like “strengthening your core.” There is no substitute lifting a load and the stresses it causes. Not to say that bodyweight and ball exercises are not useful, but they should not be the primary method used during the workout.
- Speed Development- Science has proven that there is a correlation between running speed and skating speed. A program that works on your ability to move fast on dry land will only make you a faster player on the ice. Watch for getting too technical. Off-ice you are developing athleticism, not a skating stride.
- Coordination Development– The Russians strength coaches always talk about the athlete’s ability to make connections within the human body. If you make these connections quicker or more efficiently, you will have an advantage over the competition. A program must include a way to challenge your ability to understand where you are in space and how to move in the most efficient way possible. One way would be neural confusion drills.
- Cardio-This is one of the most common components of off-ice programs. We all hear about running the hill behind the rink and sprinting up and down the bleachers 20 times. A different angle would be for the program to include metabolic running. This type of conditioning is more closely aligned with how hockey is actually played. Short 30-40 sec sprints with rest in between.
- Joint Flexibility- Every athlete could benefit from their joints being more mobile. While there has been considerable debate on the value of stretching, for and against. I am of the belief that strong, flexible, bolted on limbs are able to produce more consistent results over the long time than tight, inflexible joints.
- Off-Ice Hockey Specific Drills- Look for programs that challenge your skills and make them better. The only ditch you can fall in would be doing too many things at one time, like stick handling with one hand, juggling a ball in the other hand, hoping on one foot and kicking a soccer ball with the opposite foot. Remember, it is one thing to develop your ability to multitask and another to be in the circus.
A program that is well-balanced and properly thought out will develop all different areas of your game, not just make you strong. Lastly, if your program includes the six mentioned areas of training and stay away from the quick-fix gimmicks, you will be on the road to success.