Improving Play with Off-Ice Conditioning
Ice hockey is very physically demanding and tests a player’s stamina. It
requires players to be in good health, be able to work very hard for short
periods of time (anaerobic conditioning) and be able to
recover quickly from physical activity (aerobic conditioning).
What’s more, strength, quickness and
agility are also desirable. Players must learn to develop
their physical abilities in all areas.
It is not uncommon for players to feel tired
during or after a game. Feeling tired is normal; players can overcome much
of their tired feeling by focusing their mind on the game and ignoring the
fatigue. However, if players are feeling pain they should talk to their
coach or parents about it.
The diagram (above right) shows the foundations
for physical development. Without a good aerobic conditioning base, it is
difficult to adequately develop the other areas.
Each layer builds the necessary physical
abilities to improve performance at the next level.
Skills such as skating and stickhandling are
dependent on the body’s ability to do the work. Good physical conditioning
is a foundation for everything else and becomes more important as a player
gets older. Playing ability improves as players upgrade their physical
shape. Skating cannot be improved with just on-ice exercises.
Aerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to
convert oxygen into energy. As muscles work, they get energy from two
sources: food and oxygen. The better a body can use oxygen, the quicker it
recovers from hard work. Performed for at least 20 minutes and three times a
week, the following activities improve aerobic conditioning: jogging, brisk
walking, swimming, biking, ice skating and roller skating.
Anaerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to
work very hard for short periods of time. A single shift on the ice should
be played at full speed and tests a player’s anaerobic conditioning. For
example, when players skate as fast as they can down the ice, the longer the
time before they feel tired, the better anaerobic shape they are in. It is
tougher to develop good anaerobic abilities because the only way to do so is
by exercising harder and longer with high intensity and high-speed
exercises. The following exercises improve anaerobic conditioning:
sprinting, foot racing and skating full speed down the length of the ice.
Strength Training, Quickness and Agility
Most doctors agree that children under the age of
10 should not weight train. Nonetheless, exercise that builds stamina such
as running and resistance training provide a good way to exercise muscles
without risking injury. Resistance training is using the body like a weight
set. Common resistance type exercises that help build strength are: pushups.
chin-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts and squats.
To build quickness, look at exercises that
involve rapid feet movement. Good ways to build quickness include jumping,
bounding, hopping and skipping rope.
Agility is the ability to start, stop and change direction quickly.
Agility is built by moving the feet quickly in a variety of movements such
as quick turns and cuts. Agility can be increased by obstacle courses,
zig-zag running, side shuffles and playing tag.
Check with your Hockey Coach to learn about "Off-Ice" Programs
appropriate for you!