In this article, I want to show you some of the most effective hockey training exercises and workouts you can do to improve your hockey-specific speed, conditioning, and strength.
You may think that COVID-19 has created an unpredictable training environment for the young hockey kids out there, but one thing I can tell you right now is that a lack of training equipment or training partners will Not Keeping you from realizing your potential in this sport.
Do not believe me? Let’s get into the science of why pure bodyweight training is my method of choice to optimize young hockey players’ performance on the ice.
Bodyweight hockey training for kids
Bodyweight exercises are strength training exercises that do not require additional machines, free weights, or dumbbells. The hockey player’s weight provides resistance to all movement within this type of program design, which I greatly prefer for children.
Some of the more traditional bodyweight exercises include push-ups and squats. The challenge most parents and coaches encounter is designing a hockey training program that provides an effective way to increase or decrease the difficulty of a drill to suit their needs and abilities.
This is no obstacle to creating super effective hockey workouts that kids can do at home during quarantine (or any other time of year, for that matter).
Take a push-up, for example. If you want to make it less complicated, you have many options. You can change your hand position, pause throughout the set, lower your knees, increase your base of support, or decrease your range of motion.
To make the push-up more difficult, you have just as many options.
- Change your hand position
- Enforce isometric pauses
- Perform error sets
- Exhaust muscles before doing push-ups
- Slow down the pace
- Increase range of motion
- Elevate your feet to transfer a greater load of your total body weight to the upper body muscles involved in the push-up
Not only do these variations increase the difficulty of the exercise, but they can increase the range of motion and recruit more muscle fibers per rep. In general, increasing your reps will improve your hockey-specific endurance.
Method for training youth hockey players
Bodyweight training is no joke. I have hundreds of hockey players who have gone through my bodyweight-only program with great success.
Outside of the sport of hockey, to judge the effectiveness of pure bodyweight training you need look no further than the strength, power output, and extreme athletic ability of elite gymnasts.
Bodyweight training ticks all the boxes for performance development in dry field hockey and can be an excellent tool in your arsenal as a coach or parent to better train your youth hockey players.
Advantages of bodyweight training over strength training
Versatility: Bodyweight training is suitable for both advanced hockey trainees and brand new beginners, as each exercise has so many variations that it becomes either harder or easier based on the athlete’s current level of performance.
Convenience: All you need is your body for your young hockey player to have a great workout anywhere, anytime. Not to mention that he/she doesn’t have to go to the gym at all and risks being intimidated by a bodybuilder throwing rattling weights and yelling next to him/her.
Costs: Bodyweight training costs you next to nothing compared to other training programs that require lots of expensive machines, plates, cardio equipment, heart rate monitors and specialty bars.
Efficient: Even people with busy schedules can sneak into bodyweight training. You can do this anywhere, anytime, and they all take half an hour or less. Additionally, the minimal equipment required allows for the fastest transitions between exercises (no more waiting around for gym equipment!) and shorter rest periods.
Adaptability: Bodyweight training doesn’t have to be just a warm-up or cardio workout. Bodyweight training exercises can be incorporated into a program and performed to provide hockey specific strength and muscle gains throughout a fully periodized hockey training program.
Compound movements: Almost all bodyweight exercises engage multiple joints and multiple different muscle groups at the same time. With high-intensity reciprocation, these exercises have been shown to increase circulating levels of health-promoting hormones, which have broadly beneficial effects on athletic performance, health, and improving body composition.
core strength: The core contains about 29 different major muscles, and bodyweight training alone can activate all of these, hitting them head-on or using them in a stabilizing challenge. Not only does this give you extra armor to avoid injury on the ice, but it can also directly affect your speed, agility, stamina, balance and power.
Adaptability of the nervous system: By doing pure bodyweight training, you expose your muscular and nervous system to hundreds of different coordination patterns and force the body to execute those patterns under varying levels of stress and fatigue.
All-round enhanced ice hockey performance: Bodyweight training forces you to build a functional, athletic physique as it forces you to be maximally coordinated with every movement. You’ll build lean, athletic, and symmetrical muscles that function with a high level of flexibility that you’ll transfer directly to hockey performance.
Proper bodyweight training for ice hockey players
For centuries, bodyweight training has been an incredibly useful tool for conditioning, flexibility, coordination, balance, developing strength, increasing strength, burning body fat, building muscle tissue, and pushing human limits.
Too many parents think it’s “better” to start using weights early, but I totally disagree. Strength training can wait until the body needs it more (after the onset of puberty). Until then, not only is bodyweight training safer—it’s also better for getting hockey-specific results.
Bodyweight training is like any other form of exercise. Over time you will continue to make linear progress as long as you apply an overload stimulus to each workout.
Below I present a hockey specific speed, conditioning and power training workout so that you can speed up your training at home in the best possible way and become a better hockey player. Let’s get into that!
Bodyweight hockey speed training
- A1: Split Squat Jumps – 3 x 3/side jump [0 secs rest]
- A2: Prisoner Reverse Lunges – 3 x 5/side [0 secs rest]
- A3: Flutter Kicks – 3 x 10/page [0 secs rest]
- A4: Long jumps – 3 x 6 [0 secs rest]
- A5: Prisoner Forward Lunges – 3 x 5/side [0 secs rest]
- A6: Plank with elbow-to-knee touches – 3 x 10/side [90 secs rest]
*Perform all six exercises in a row with minimal rest in between, rest for 90 seconds on completion, and repeat for a total of three rounds.
Body Weight Hockey Shot Power Workout
- A1: Yoga push-ups x 10
- A2: YTW x 10/letter
- A3: X-ups x 10/page
*Repeat 3 rounds, rest 90 sec
- B1: Pike push-ups x 10
- B2: Reverse Snow Angel x 10
- B3: Renegade Row x 10/side
*Repeat 3 rounds, rest 90 sec
- C: Push-up bird dog x 10/side
Complete only one set as a finisher
Bodyweight Hockey Conditioning Training
- A1: Split squats x 6/leg
- A2: 3-way push-ups x 12
- A3: Reverse crunches x 10
- A4: Bodyweight rest squats x 10
- A5: Downward push-ups x 10
- A6: Page-V x 6/page
- A7: Military Burpee x 10
- A8: Long Jump x 3
*Repeat 3-5x with 2 minute rest in between.
The unfortunate regulations of COVID-19 can be avoided with a smart approach to at-home workouts. This time in young athletes’ lives is the most critical window to creating short- and long-term hockey performance potential.
Designing the youth hockey program and having fun are equally important and continually feed into each other as your performance progresses. The connection between these two concepts will provide you with the objective performance results to validate the approach when you see your performance at a different level next season – with or without training gear.
Ignoring the principles of program design that form the basis of your dryland training is a one-way ticket to minimally effective quarantine.
You can’t expect your child to get better by “boosting” their program design or waiting for things to get back to normal.
Many ice hockey athletes don’t improve their performance much from year to year. The main reason is that they routinely overlook the complexity behind simple program design. Or they train their kids like mini-adults (which is a big mistake!).
The hardest worker in the room does NOT always get the best results.
Instead, whoever works the hardest, who can put their efforts into improving hockey, will win in the end. Why? Because no matter how hard you work on a subpar program, you will still get subpar results.
Youth hockey players must have a youth-specific hockey training schedule. A well-designed youth hockey training program doesn’t require you to have access to an entire gym with equipment.
Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from your hockey dreams, do these workouts and dominate on the ice!