5 Things to Know About In-Season Hockey Training

Bantam, Midget, Junior level (age: 13-20)

1.       do not focus on sport Specific Training.

          There is nothing more sport specific, than playing the game.  While being on the ice, you are taking part in the absolute movement patterns that define your sport. There is no need to do off-ice exercises that mimic positioning and hockey complexes, since there is nothing that can compare to the effectiveness of playing the sport.


2.       Speed is being taken care of!

          The concept of speed is how much distance an athlete can cover in a specific amount of time. In every drill, shift, and skill session, the component of speed is being trained. Having competitors participate in off-ice training sessions, that focus primarily on speed is redundant, hazardous to the athlete, and an inefficient use of training time.     

          The hazardous effects of constant speed training can be observed through Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue.  The CNS takes longer than the muscular system to recover. Engaging in high intensity exercise regularly, can impede the recovery process, halt progress, and decrease performance.


3.       Use complex exercises that provide big results.

          The time for in-season training is limited; therefore exercises that supply the most stimulation for growth should be selected. Multi-joint exercises are optimal choices and they produce maximal results in short periods of time.  Single-joint movements are not only less beneficial to the athlete’s performance, but also a poor use of session time.


4.       Focus on Strength.  

          Each time a player pushes on the ice, the ice will push back with an equal force; this is Isaac Newton’s third law in action. The production of greater force on the ice, will allow the skater to increase speed, by covering more distance per amount of time. Increasing muscular strength will always increase force production, due to physiological changes that occur between the Central Nervous System (CNS), and muscular system; the neuromuscular system.  

Experience supports that Bantam, Midget, and Junior level athletes need to get stronger, in order to get faster.


5.       Focus on Lean Mass.

          At this age the focus needs to be on gaining lean mass. For Bantam to Junior level players, there is an explosion of hormonal activity, making protein synthesis (muscle building) happen at an accelerated rate. With this hormonal profile, there is NO EXCUSE FOR NOT GAINING LEAN BODY MASS. Lean body mass in this case, refers to only muscle tissue, we do not want athletes to become sluggish by gaining a large amount of body fat. 

If you have an athlete struggling to gain lean mass at this level, there are three questions that should be asked. 

What are the athlete’s nutritional habits?
          An athlete with an extraordinarily poor diet (i.e. low caloric intake, low quality food product), may struggle to put on lean mass or even grow. This will make each year harder to compete, especially with athletes who are growing and becoming stronger.

What are the current lifestyle habits of the athlete?
          This is a broad topic that encompasses things like sleep, hydration, detoxification, attitude, immune health, and nutrition.

What are you doing for off ice training?

           This article outlines most of the success strategies for off ice training. In summary, focus o n strength, gain lean mass, and use complex exercises.


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          Augustsson, Jesper, Anders Esko, Roland Thomeé, and Ulla Svantesson. "Weight Training of the Thigh Muscles Using Closed Versus Open Kinetic Chain Exercises: A Comparison of Performance Enhancement." J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 27.1 (1998): 3-8. Web.

          Iannotti, R. J., and J. Wang. "Trends in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, Diet, and BMI Among US Adolescents, 2001-2009." Pediatrics 132.4 (2013): 606-14. Web.