Hockey "Off-Ice" Program
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 minds on the game and ignoring the fatigue. However, if players are feeling pain they should talk to their coach or parents about it. 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 the 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, an exercise that builds stamina such as running and resistance training provides 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 foot 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.
Dr. Joel Diaz holds a doctorate degree in Physical Therapy for the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. He also holds a Personal Training Certificate from Action and Functional Movements Techniques Certification (FMT).
His compassion and Biopsychosocial (BPS) model approach to training ensures the overall package toward the individual's goals. The BPS model utilizes biological, psychological, and socio-environmental factors to unleash the individual's full potential. He is an avid reader of the latest research and incorporates the latest evidence-based methods into his training/practice.
Dr. Joel is available for private and semi-private lessons. He is also available for injury evaluation and rehabilitation.
Check with your Hockey Coach to learn about "Off-Ice" Programs appropriate for you!