Have you ever tried matching up a hockey player of our time, with the NHL player of 20 or 30 years ago? Just looking at the way they are built tells the story of how important off-ice training has become for the performance of hockey players.
In the past, ice hockey players used to train almost entirely on the ice; the awareness for how important off-ice training is was close to zero. Nowadays, this has changed dramatically. Ice hockey training has spread off the ice to build muscle mass, develop speed and agility, increase stamina, increase slapshot power, and avoid injuries.
Awareness has also risen for offseason training. It’s not enough to come to training camp after lazing all summer, and start your conditioning from there; Training camp is the platform that decides the fate of players for the entire season, as teams select their rosters. In this day and age, players have to come to training camp in shape.
So what’s the difference between ice hockey and other sports when it comes to conditioning?
Well, ice hockey is almost like no other sport in the variety of skills it demands – skills that are so different in nature. It’s played on a different surface from other sports, which in itself requires adjustments in training and conditioning programs. It requires great stamina and power in the lower body for good skating – the bread and butter of the game; Quick hands for stick-handling; Strong arms for powerful shots; and massive upper-body to take and (preferably) dish out hits, while doing all the other things.
That’s why ice hockey needs its own system of conditioning off the ice; in order to bring all these skills to their peak, you need a training and conditioning program that is specifically designed for ice hockey. If you go wrong and neglect one of these skills, your performance will suffer.
And what about ice hockey training for children? If you are a parent of a hockey-playing child, you should know that just like in anything else in life, an investment in him on her during childhood will influence his or her entire life later. If your child is conditioned properly at a young age, it will affect his or her entire ice hockey career.
of course, conditioning a child has its own set of rules; it’s not the same as conditioning a teenager or an adult. The training program should be not only hockey-specific, but also match the trainee’s age.