How to Get in Shape for Hockey
To succeed as a hockey player, you need to develop a specific set of skills and possess a broad range of physical abilities. You need speed, strength, endurance, elusiveness and, most of all, balance. The process of getting into hockey playing shape usually involves acquiring or reacquiring all these attributes prior to the beginning of the season. For best results, your workouts should begin at least two months before your team’s first practice, but if you don’t have that much time, any training and development will be beneficial heading into competitive or recreational play.
Skating is the foundation of a hockey player’s game, and skating practice will be a major factor in helping you get into shape. Skate at least once each day leading to the start of the season, mixing short cross-ice skating drills to long-distance skates to build endurance and increase your on-ice lung capacity. Practice your skating on the ice of a rink if possible. High-intensity play on the ice in a cold environment taxes your endurance and lung capacity to a greater degree than inline skating in more temperate weather does. After a couple of weeks, bring along cones, pucks and your stick to work on more elaborate skating drills, like weaving through cones with the puck, station-to-station turnaround drills while maintaining puck control and capping off with several backward skating drills, both with puck and without.
Hockey requires you to have the ability to transfer power between your upper and lower body while maintaining balance and momentum. Develop strength throughout your body through weight training. Concentrate on compound weight-training exercises that involve transferring the resistance between the upper and lower body, and those that at least incorporate muscle groups in both areas. For example, the deadlift, power cleans, high pull and snatch are all lifts that will develop strength to improve your play and get you into hockey shape. Weight training should be limited to three days each week, with one day off from lifting in between.
Flexibility is as crucial as strength and stamina for a hockey player, and body-weight exercises will increase your level of flexibility, along with your agility and balance. Do your body-weight exercises on the same workout days that you perform your weightlifting to prevent injury and fatigue from overtraining certain muscle groups. Do several sets of pullups, pushups, planks, back extensions, body-weight squats and walking lunges, and perform each set through to failure. This means keep going on a particular set of exercises until you no longer can, rest for up to two minutes, then do another set to failure.
Diet is sometimes neglected as aspect of sports training, but it’s crucial for getting you into shape for hockey. The increased activity level -- especially skating in a cold environment -- requires energy and the raw materials necessary to build muscle and fuel recovery. Set up a meal plan that focuses around eating lean protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats. Depending on your current level of fitness, you may need to increase or restrict your daily caloric intake; make sure that the calories you consume are balanced evenly from these three sources, and avoid unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates.
- Complete Conditioning for Hockey; Peter Twist
- Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women; Bill Pearl
- Weight Training Workouts and Diet Plan that Work; James Orvis
Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.