There are many ways to break down the demands of the game to gain insight into how to best prepare. In ice hockey, it’s common to look at shift length and work-to-rest ratios as an indicator of game demands.
At most levels of hockey, a typical shift is 40-60s and teams carry 3-4 forward lines and 3 d-pairs. Following this thinking, “hockey-specific” conditioning would involve work bouts of 40-60s with a 1:3 work-to-rest ratio.
While seemingly logical, this is one of the biggest mistakes in hockey conditioning.
Legendary track coach Charlie Francis is often referenced as saying “Watch the player, not the game.”.
When you do this in hockey, a very different pattern emerges. For the individual player, a typical shift consists of intermittent maximum effort bouts interspersed with brief periods of rest.
Over-emphasizing 40-60 second work bouts, particularly on the ice, will compromise speed in 3 key areas: 1) speed of skating, 2) speed of skill execution, and 3) speed of decision making.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of the available research highlighting the demands of the game, limiting factors to hockey conditioning, and specific training strategies.
If you have any specific questions or comments, post them below and I’ll address them throughout this series.
To your success,
P.S. For in-season and off-season hockey conditioning programs, click here >> Ultimate Hockey Transformation
Enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Sports Performance and Hockey Training Newsletter!
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.