The Importance of Off Ice Conditioning
There are many theories and ideas about how youth hockey players should go about their off-season training, otherwise called dry land training or off-ice training. The following are some suggestions for ages 11 through 14. The primary difference for older players would be in the weight training section as players mature into Bantams and Midgets.
Young players should concentrate on lifting their BODYWEIGHT, that is push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, squats, sit-ups. Light wrist strength weight lifting is okay, but keep the weight light and the reps short. Alternate between a push exercise then pull exercise. As players get older, weights can be introduced with SUPERVISION.
Sprinting: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF OFF-ICE TRAINING AT ANY AGE. Players should learn to sprint in a short area in 4-6 second intervals, and then learn to also "corner" or change directions, much like a football running back. For power, do short sprints up hill. Running a mile or two is okay, but try and sprint some during that mile. Remember, hockey is a game of a series of short sprints with accelerations of usually 2-4 seconds followed by a change in direction. We should train that way!
Other Exercises: Jumping, with deep knee bends is great for leg power. Sure, players may look silly but it works. Swimming for 30 minutes or more burns body fat. Burning body fat increases your skating speed and cornering ability. Biking is great for leg power and endurance. Running while dribbling a soccer ball increases foot speed and so does playing Squash. Running with a hockey stick and dribbling an old baseball is great for eye-hand coordination, foot speed, and wrist strength. (Hint: a baseball weighs almost the same as a puck and won't be "bouncy".) Hopping and jumping rope are excellent provided you do several repetitions. Martial arts is great for balance, agility and maintaining focus.
NOTE: A word about roller-blades: Roller Blades have been judged by most experts to be an INEFFECTIVE off-ice training tool. Let the kids use them for fun and street hockey which builds game and team skills, but do not use them for conditioning. This has to do with the leg extension and push which only simulates the ice hockey leg extension but is NOT the same.
Blanchard Goaltending Recommends the following Off-Ice Training Equipment:
The Kinesthetic Board, Stability Balls, N-sane Balls, Slide Boards and Jelly Balls.
All products can be purchased at SpeedCity.