Hockey Training Programs

Keys to Designing and Analyzing Ice Hockey Training Programs

If you want to create more effective ice hockey training programs, then you need to analyze the sport and the athlete you are training (even if you are writing the program for yourself!)


To write ice hockey fitness training programs, you need to follow the same guidelines as you would for any other sport, which research and real world results have proven to be successful time and time again.


First, analyze the sport...I mean, really take a closer look at what is involved from a physiological standpoint.


Then, do some research to determine the most common injuries of the sport.


Once you understand the physiological needs, plus the most common injuries, it is time to start putting some ideas for training on paper.


Follow this with a comprehensive performance evaluation, and you’re ready to get started.


Programming Guidelines

Prior to designing a hockey specific training program, the following should be considered:


1. Perform a Needs Analysis to determine the specific physiological demands of ice hockey.

In order to design a more effective program, you should know:
  • What energy systems are used?

  • What muscle groups are used to execute movements?

  • What are the nervous system requirements?

  • What additional balance, stability, or core training issues need to be addressed?

  • What are the most common injuries?

  • What are the most common imbalances?

  • How long is the season?

  • How long is the game?

  • How long are the shifts?

  • Are there any gender considerations?

  • ETC.



2. Perform a Functional Kinetic Chain Assessment.

This Assessment should be used to determine if the player has any weaknesses/imbalances--which will become apparent when s/he executes various movement screens and assessments, plus static and dynamic postural assessments.


Corrective exercises can be prescribed from the results of these assessments.


3. Perform a Sports Fitness Evaluation.

Finally, a sports fitness evaluation can provide information about the player specific to his/her fitness levels and baseline performance levels.


Performance and Fitness tests need to be relevant to the demands of the sport, or more importantly, relevant to hockey specific training.


For Example: top end speed in hockey vs. acceleration--each would be tested differently on ice and off-ice.




Physiological Demands Of Ice Hockey

What are the physiological demands for hockey specific training? In other words, what does the sport of ice hockey require from the human body in order to be successful at the sport?


Ice hockey is an extremely physically demanding and unique sport when it comes to the specific physiological demands needed to be successful.


Because it is played on ice, and the player must balance on a very tiny "sweet spot" of the hockey blade, which is a fraction of an inch wide, all while making athletic movements similar to high level football, soccer, or lacrosse players, and while holding a stick, watching a puck, integrating tactical systems, and moving at fast speeds, there are many different facets that need to be addressed to properly prepare an ice hockey player to be successful at any level.


A hockey player must have good strength, speed, power, strength endurance, power endurance, excellent conditioning (for bursts and for recovery between shifts/periods/games), flexibility (especially in the hips), balance, kinetic chain balance, and mental toughness to compete at a high level in hockey. Hockey consists of short intense intermittent bouts of skating, with aggressive body contact, and some fighting.


Common Ice Hockey Injuries

Due to the high level of physical contact in hockey, players are very prone to injury during competition and during practice sessions. According to a Canadian document with statistical data about hockey injuries , athletes between the ages of fifteen and nineteen that play ice hockey have the highest number of head injuries (primarily concussions) when compared to other contact sports.


Furthermore, injuries are three times more likely to occur in the preseason when compared to the regular season and the post-season.


Moreover, injuries are forty-two percent more likely to happen during the third period of play. Injuries occur during the pre season due to lack of conditioning during the offseason.


That is why it is extremely important to get involved in a year-round training program that will specifically prepare you for higher level competition and reduce your risk of getting injured!




Furthermore, 3rd period injuries are more common due to a lack of conditioning which causes players to be tired at the end of the game.


Fatigue can be the combination of improper physical preparation (not the right type or amount of conditioning) and improper nutrition (not getting the right kind of nutrients to fuel the body during intense exercise).


Additionally, 42% of the injuries affect the head and face area, whereas thirty-one percent affect the lower limbs.


Lastly, the body check is the most commonly reported cause of both soft tissue and severe trauma injuries.


What to Consider When Designing Programs for Ice Hockey

(In addition to the needs identified by the needs assessment, the functional kinetic chain assessment and the performance and fitness tests, the following areas/issues need to be considered when designing programs for ice hockey.)


1. Mutli-planar Movements--almost all sports require movements in all three planes of movement (sagittal--ie. Forward and backward; frontal--ie. Side to side; transverse--ie. horizontal rotation), and many sports movements occur in all three planes at once--think hockey slapshot while skating forward


2. Mutli--Muscle Actions--due to the changes of speed and direction in hockey, the ability to accelerate and decelerate is extremely important--for this to happen, concentric, eccentric, and isometric muscle actions need to be trained. The body must be able to reduce force, and produce force for safe, efficient mutli--speed movements.


3. Core Training (lumbo-pelvic-hip complex)--while 'core' may be a fitness buzzword, it doesn't deny the fact that it exists. The core needs to be trained for strength, speed, stability and power, using multi-planes and multiple muscle actions.


4. Corrective/Prehabilitative Exercises--the body functions best when it is in balance. Compensation from previous injuries, muscle tightness, or weaknesses may cause imbalances that could predispose a hockey player to an increased risk of injury.


5. Balance/Total Body Stability--yes, research has shown that balance is important in ice hockey. For more skilled players, balance training specific to skating is best done on ice. But, balance training is also beneficial because it creates a greater neurological demand which creates greater muscle recruitment AND proprioception helps create co-contractions and other neuromuscular actions that help promote improved stability.


6. Uni-/Bi-Lateral Movements--both single (uni) and double (bi) leg movements are important, such as squats and lunges (multi-planar); recent research has shown that there was a greater transfer of single leg movements to skating performance (when compared with squats)


7. Strength Training--skating performance (especially top speed) is directly influenced by force production; additionally, strength training helps improve muscle fiber recruitment, which promotes greater neuromuscular control and greater force production.


8. Speed Training--speed is extremely important, and needs to be addressed not only in the weightroom (with specific programming), but also on dryland (drills) and on ice.


9. Power Training (including plyometrics)--recent research shows that plyometrics that focus on greater stretch shortening cycle response (reduced time from force reduction/muscle stretch to force production/contraction) have a greater effect on acceleration and quick starts, while power training that focuses more on greater force production (with less emphasis on contact time) will have a greater effect on top speed skating; Olympic lifting.


10. Flexibility Training--muscles perform optimally at a specific length--this is known as the length-tension relationship; when muscles are too tight, the nervous system inhibits force production to prevent injury; when muscles are over stretched, they are usually overactive so they fatigue easily, and again, physiological and biomechanical issues exist that prevent optimal force production; the research on the role of flexibility training in injury prevention is still inconclusive, so flexibility training is recommended for optimal performance and to enable the hockey player to achieve better skating technique (stride length, proper mechanics, etc.)


11. Specific Metabolic Conditioning--hockey players need to be conditioned specifically to achieve multiple maximal sprint efforts on an intermittent/shift basis. Sprint interval training also improves aerobic performance--so it is not necessary to execute any long distance running. In fact, research has shown that long distance running can impair one's sprint performance.


12. Dynamic Vision Training--research over the last 10 years has shown that it is possible to improve a hockey player's ability to 'see the ice,' 'pick up the puck,' or anticipate where other players will be on the ice--this type of training is called dynamic vision training, and it is especially important to goalies.


13. Periodization--all programs need to be progressive; there are a multitude of options--any type of training works, but nothing works forever—needs to change to grow with the athlete. Undulation, linear, step-type, block; meso, micro, macro cycles.


Additional Considerations for Hockey Training Programs:

  • Each specific athlete's needs must be addressed, along with specific positional demands.



  • During in-season training, hockey players that do not receive much ice time during the game will need to do extra workouts to prevent losing any conditioning, speed, strength, power, or flexibility benefits achieved during training prior to the season.



  • Players that receive a lot of ice time during the game will need to adjust additional workouts accordingly.



  • Lastly, research has shown that skating alone is not sufficient stimulus to elicit strength, power, or speed gains, or for maintenance during the season.


CLIENT TESTIMONIALS
Matt Bartkowski with the Bruins "As you progress in hockey and aspire to get to higher levels, your off season training becomes increasingly important. Once I started training at Finish First I noticed a difference in my strength, speed, and power on and off the ice. There is no better place for a hockey player to train than Finish First. Where I am now in my career I can credit to Finish First, and I know continuing my training there will get me where I want to be."
--Matt Bartkowski, NHL Vancouver Canucks
Christian Hanson "Coach Jeremy Hoy and Finish First is one of if not the main reason I am where I am today. If it were not for his sport-specific training programs, I could only have dreamt of making it this far. Any athlete who has any aspirations of making it to the next level is foolish to not train with Finish First. Regardless of your current skill, going anywhere else to train is a waste of time, money and talent."
--Christian Hanson, NHL Forward (Retired)
Matt Bartkowski with the Bruins "I've been forutnate enough to train with Jeremy and Finish First for almost 20 years. His training system specifically addressed my needs as a developing youth hockey player and changed to specifically address my needs as I matured as a player throughout juniors, college, and the pros. Using the Finish First Sports Performance training programs, I was able to play at my strongest, fastest, and in the best shape possible, while staying healthy for a long productive career. I can't recommend this training enough. If you do it, and commit to getting better, you will get better--guaranteed!"
--Sean Berkstresser (Voss), 9 Year Professional Hockey Player, RMU NCAA D1 Hockey Alum
Miss Pennsylvania America 2011, Juliann Sheldon "Training for the Miss America pageant included 6 weeks of intense training at Finish First Sports performance. Coach Jeremy Hoy put my physical endurance to the test and pushed me to my limit. In those intense weeks of physical preparation, I truly learned what It meant to be an athlete. Training at FFSP can help ANY pageant girl become an athlete - She will look and feel her very best. ..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2011, Juliann Sheldon
Miss Pennsylvania America 2010, Courtney Thomas "Working out at Finish First Sports Performance with Jeremy Hoy was by far the best workout experience I've ever had. I spent six weeks going to FFSP two and three times a day and each time I had a unique workout that helped me achieve the results I desired. Jeremy was always so encouraging and pushed me both physically and mentally to reach my full potential. I went to Miss America in the best shape of my life and felt so confident and prepared..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2010, Courtney Thomas
Brianne McLaughlin, Goaltender, USA Women's Olympic Ice Hockey Team "Finish First has helped me to perform at my best and to be in the best shape possible in order to compete at the highest level. Jeremy's motivational attitude and custom workouts allow me to get the most out of my training - which is geared towards making me a better hockey player AND stronger athlete..."
--Brianne McLaughlin, Goaltender, USA Women's Olympic Ice Hockey Team
Miss Pennsylvania America 2009, Shannon Doyle "I spent six weeks at Finish First Sports Performance working intensely with Coach Hoy to prepare for the Miss America pageant. I worked out three times a day, every day! Coach Hoy pushed me harder than I ever could have imagined possible. When I felt defeated, he always had an inspirational story or quote to re-inspire me, and then he would push me harder. Jeremy saw an inner-strength and confidence in me even when I struggled to see it in myself. ..."
--Miss Pennsylvania America 2009, Shannon Doyle
Chris Kushneriuk, Professional Hockey Player for the Bakersfield Condors "Prior to training with Jeremy Hoy and the team at Finish First, one of the biggest knocks I received from coaches was my endurance. I would slowly wear down as the season went on, which would make me lose a step in a game where every inch is so important. Since I began my off-season training with Jeremy's programs in the summer of 09' this has no longer been an issue. ...Jeremy has made me a much more explosive and confident power forward. ..."
--Chris Kushneriuk, Professional Hockey Player (Retired)
Brock Meadows, Professional Hockey Player, Texas Brahmas "Jeremy Hoy and Finish First Sports Performance has by far been the best sport-specific training I've ever experienced. I've played for many teams and have had countless different trainers and training programs, and they weren't even close. The program is designed for me as a hockey player, to improve my performance on the ice. Hoy's program allowed me to stand out in hockey and move on to the next level. ..."
--Brock Meadows, Professional Hockey Player, Texas Brahmas (Retired)
Elyse Healy, Top 10 Miss PA 2010 "Having competed at the local, state and national levels before coming to Jeremy, I always knew how I wanted to look but never got precisely the results I was striving for. With FFSP, I was able to SURPASS my expectations and become the strongest competitor I could be. Combined with expertise in training, nutrition and overall health, I thank Jeremy and his staff for making me both mentally and physically STRONG! ..."
--Elyse Healy, Top 10 Miss PA 2010
Shauna Rice, 2009 & 2010 Preliminary Swimsuit Winner and Top 5 Finish "I trained under Jeremy Hoy at Finish First Sports Performance in preparations for the 2009 and 2010 Miss Pennsylvania pageants. I am proud to say that I was a preliminary swimsuit award winner both years! Jeremy gives his full attention to his clients and creates their routines and diet plans specifically for them. Jeremy trained me in ways I have never experienced before. New exercises, new muscles, and new pains! ..."
--Shauna Rice, 2009 & 2010 Preliminary Swimsuit Winner and Top 5 Finish
Denny Urban, Professional Hockey Player, Reading Royals "Each and every year you need to make sure that you are in your top shape when heading into the season. With the customized training that Jeremy Hoy and Finish First gives you, you get into your top shape so you have that edge over the other people. I can credit Finish First and Jeremy Hoy for where I am now in my career and where I want to be. If you are serious about making it to the next level and want to gain that edge over the others then I recommend training with Jeremy Hoy and Finish First."
--Denny Urban, Professional Hockey Player
Michael Houser, Goaltender, London Knights (OHL) "Jeremy and the coaches at Finish First Sports Performance have helped me prepare for each hockey season through intense hockey specific training. With the rigorous schedule of major junior hockey, my training experience at Finish First has helped me to stay strong and not wear down through the long season, and helped me to finish the year as strong and explosive as I started it."
--Michael Houser, Professional Hockey Goaltender
OHL Player of the year 2011-12
CHL Goaltender of the year 2011-12
Andrew Lister, RMU Men's ACHA D1 Ice Hockey "Training is a great way for an athlete to separate themselves from their competition. Finish First Sports Performance offers a unique training program that is tailored to your personal goals. As a hockey player, I quickly recognized the importance of lower body strength. My goal, when coming into Finish First, was to increase my leg strength. Coach Jeremy Hoy and his workouts have pushed me to reach my goal..."
--Andrew Lister, RMU Men's ACHA D1 Ice Hockey
Matt White, Professional Ice Hockey Player "I have been training with Coach Hoy for over five years and without his help and expertise I know that it would never have been possible for me to be where I am today. In training with Coach Hoy and the hockey specific training regimen he has designed, I have seen significant improvements each summer in my explosion, quickness, agility, strength, and endurance..."
--Matt White, Professional Ice Hockey Player
Parker Milner, Professional Ice Hockey Goalie "I have been working with Jeremy Hoy and Finish First since I was 12 years old, and he was the first person who taught me the importance of off-ice training. The unique, athlete specific training tailored to your particular sport is what makes Finish First so special. When you walk into Finish First, you know that you are stepping into an environment that will challenge and bring out the best in you..."
--Parker Milner, Professional Ice Hockey Goalie (2xNCAA D1 Champ)
Nick Jones, Professional Ice Hockey Player "When it comes to finding the perfect athletic performance training in Pittsburgh, the search starts and ends at Coach Hoy’s Finish First Sports Performance. As my hockey career has progressed, my off-season workouts have only gotten more and more essential. The sport-specific workouts put together by Coach Hoy and his staff has helped me add strength, speed, and endurance to my game that I did not possess before..."
--Nick Jones, Professional Ice Hockey Player
Noah Zamagias, Collegiate Golfer "Finish First Sports Performance and Jeremy Hoy are a true testament of passion and drive in personal health and fitness. With Coach Hoy and Finish First, I've found the same drive and discipline that is needed in finding and maintaining personal success and growth. Jeremy's principles and work ethic have pushed me to finding more inside and outside of the gym. Finish First breeds success and guarantees results..."
--Noah Zamagias, Collegiate Golfer
Drew Bohn, PGA Professional "I would highly recommend Finish First Sports to anyone who is looking to improve their sport specific performance and overall physical conditioning. I was looking to make my golf swing more efficient and was extremely satisfied with the workout programs and results. My core strength, flexibility and kinesthetic movements all improved which has positively affected my ball striking, balance and endurance..."
--Drew Bohn, PGA Professional





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