A couple days ago, I wrote a post on why hockey players shouldn’t use exercise bikes to condition.
If you missed it, check it out here: Hockey Conditioning: To Bike or Not to Bike!
So if you aren’t going to bike, what should you do?
The main two conditioning modalities that I recommend are:
This full body high intensity movement requires similar energy system characteristics as skating.
Shuttle runs require direction changes, which are inevitable on the ice.
Hockey players will produce force into the ground in a free movement pattern in order to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction.
Sprinting involves full hip extension and core control of this extended posture, which helps reverse the hunched over posture that hockey players spend too much time in.
Sprinting necessitates single-leg stability, just like skating.
Shuttle runs minimally stress lateral movement patterns and the involved hip musculature that is used in skating.
Slideboarding is a high intensity movement that requires similar energy system characteristics as skating.
Slideboarding involves constant lateral loading and direction changes, which reinforces the direction changes hockey players perform on the ice and strengthens the muscles on the lateral and medial (outside and inside) aspects of the hip. This helps decrease skating-related injuries (hip flexor and groin strains), while improving single-leg stability.
Slideboarding can easily be progressed to wearing a weight vest without interfering with the pattern, which mimics the loading and thermoregulatory changes that upper body equipment places on hockey players.
On-ice stride patterns can be improved off the ice using a slideboard. Specifically, hockey players can groove a proper skating posture and recovery mechanics on a slideboard. I’ve helped many players alleviate back pain from skating due to excessive rotation at the lower back simply by bringing it to their attention while they are on a slideboard.
Slideboards are awesome.
Slideboards can be expensive and aren’t available at common gyms. If you’re lucky enough to be around Endeavor Fitness, we have slideboards AND a skating treadmill. If you’re not, you can build a slideboard for less than $50. Actually, I built two when I was younger for less than $50. It took about 2 hours and was a great father-son bonding experience. Nothing says family togetherness time like building high intensity hockey training equipment!
Reread the above paragraph. There are no cons.
Check back in the next couple days to learn how these rules change based on whether you’re in-season or out of season.
To your continued success,
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He spent the last 7 years as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ, the last 3 of which he was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team. Kevin is in his 5th year as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey .