With the hockey off-season quickly approaching, thoughts quickly turn to summer activities away from the rink: golfing, watersports and, of course, BBQing! However, summer is the critical time for hockey players looking to make strength gains to improve their game for the following season.
The first week or two of hockey off-season can be used as a recovery period. Allow your body time to relax and repair itself. If need be, start getting into the physio clinic to have all the aches and pains that have been accumulating over the season taken care of. If not taken care of, these minor issues can lead to larger and often more difficult compensations throughout the body, and make building strength more difficult.
Hockey Off-Season Exercises
Hockey is a dynamic sport that requires lower body strength, endurance and stability, rotational core stability for shooting and body checking as well as upper body endurance and cardiovascular endurance.
Hip Mobility Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Without adequate range of motion, you will not be able to maximize your strength training sessions. Hockey players are often stuck in a flexed hip position. This drill forces hip extension and will allow the proper muscles to fire during the session.
Kneel with one knee and the other foot in front making a 90 degree angle at both knees. Start by engaging your back side glute (the knee on the floor/brick) and push your hips forward. Try to keep a neutral spine and not arch backwards. For a deeper stretch, reach your same arm up and slightly across your body. Hold for 5 slow breaths and repeat 5 times each side.
A staple of hockey strength training. Main muscle groups targeted are the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. There are many variations for every level of hockey athlete.
Hold a weight (dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell) high on your chest and place your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Start by breaking at the hips and slowly bending your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Drive through your heels, pushing the weight up and drive hips forward at the top. Be careful to not let your knees go past your toes. Perform 6-12 reps for 3-4 sets.
Bulgarian Split Squat
An incredible exercise for both single leg strength and endurance, as well as balance and stability.
Place one foot on a bench or box (toe down) and the other foot in front. Weight should be slightly on the front foot. Start by bending the hips and knees at the same time as you lower your back knee toward the floor. Keep your weight over your front foot and drive upward back to starting position. Perform 10-12 reps per side for 2-3 sets.
Another great drill that emphasizes leg strength and endurance in multiple planes of movement.
Start with both feet together and step forward into a lunge (both knees at 90 degrees, back knee almost to the floor). Step back to starting position and repeat diagonally forward, directly lateral, diagonally backwards and directly backwards (5 different positions). Perform 3 times each side for 2-3 sets.
Half Kneeling Medicine Ball Pass
A great partner drill that focuses on hip stability and upper body rotational control.
With one knee on the floor and the other foot in front, throw a medicine ball from your back hip across your body to a partner standing directly to your side (ideally a few feet away). When receiving the pass back, aim to control the ball all the way back to the starting position. If no partner is available, position yourself beside a wall and catch the rebound. Aim to keep your torso tall and your knees aligned with your toes. Perform 10-12 reps per side for 2-3 sets.
Swiss Ball Stir-the-Pot
Great for simulating the instability you will feel on the ice when trying to fend off a checker or and needing to brace your upper body. There are tonnes of variations of Swiss Ball planks so make sure you start at an appropriate level for you (static before dynamic!).
Assume a plank position with your elbows on top of an exercise ball and your feet approximately hip-width apart. Start by holding 20-30 second static planks before attempting dynamic ones. Progress by tracing small circles with your elbows on the ball. Alternate directions for 30 seconds, complete 3-4 sets.
Best of luck during your hockey off-season! Maybe we’ll see you on the golf course.
Principal and Personal Training Coach
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