Position Specific Hockey Training

After a life of playing forward, I was moved back to defense for my first two years of college hockey. Occasionally I would get an opportunity to jump back up to forward for a couple shifts. What an eye opening experience that was! Since I was rarely tired playing defense, I was surprised to feel so gassed after a few very short shifts at forward.

But it makes sense when you break the game down:

In the offensive zone, forwards are usually in a state of constant movement and battle, defensemen are usually camped out at the blue line (sometimes cutting in to the net) and goalies are looking for their significant others in the stands.

In the neutral zone the situation is usually pretty similar as forwards are running exchanges, defensemen are holding their blue line or making small range escapes to make a pass and the goalies are at least somewhat aware that a hockey game is being played.

In the defensive zone, wingers are holding down the top of the circles, while the center and defensemen are in a state of organized chaos to break the puck out, and the goalie is in a semi-squat position for an extended period of time.

The result is that different players at different positions have very different conditioning demands. 

Is it always possible to conditioning players of different positions differently? 

No.  Many times there isn’t enough manpower or resources to do this. 

Generally speaking, I think defensemen and goalies don’t need to be as highly conditioned as forwards.  It would be reasonable to swap out some conditioning work for players at these positions in favor of more strength work, core work, and/or short distance explosive sprint work with relatively longer rest periods. 

After all, if your defensemen are quick and break the puck out rapidly, they probably won’t spend a lot of time doing anything but sitting at the offensive zone blueline and making a few cuts to the net anyway.

– Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!