Ice hockey is a high-intensity sport that requires strength, speed, agility, and endurance. While on-ice practice and games are essential for improving skills, incorporating dryland training into your routine can take your game to the next level. You can gain a competitive edge on the ice by focusing on exercises that target specific muscle groups.
Lower Body Exercises
Strong lower body muscles are essential to improve your skating speed, agility, and explosive power. Incorporating the following exercises into your dryland training routine can help improve your lower body strength and enhance your skating performance.
- Single-leg squats (pistol squats) involve standing on one leg with the other foot raised behind you. Lower yourself until your thigh is parallel to the ground, then switch legs. This exercise is excellent for improving balance and stability on one leg, which is crucial for skating.
- Bulgarian split squats: To perform this exercise, stand with your back to a bench or elevated surface and place one foot on the bench and the other foot on the ground a few feet in front of the bench. Lower your back knee towards the ground, keeping your front knee over your toes. Repeat.
- Box jumps: These are also beneficial for improving explosive power and speed. To do box jumps, stand before a box or elevated surface and jump onto the box, landing softly on your feet. Step down and repeat.
- Skater jumps: For improving lateral movement, these can be effective. Start with your feet hip-width apart and jump to the right, landing on your right foot and bringing your left foot behind your right ankle. Then, jump to the left, landing on your left foot and bringing your right foot behind your left ankle.
- Reverse lunges with knee drive: Step back with one foot into a lunge position, push back up to the starting position, and bring your back knee up towards your chest while balancing on your standing leg.
Upper Body Exercises
Upper body strength is also essential for shot strength, passing accuracy, and checking ability. The following are some effective upper body exercises that can help to develop these skills:
- Medicine ball slams: Hold a medicine ball with both hands, lift it above your head, and slam it down onto the ground in front of you as hard as you can. Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Renegade rows: Start in a plank position with your hands holding onto dumbbells. Pull one dumbbell up towards your chest while keeping your core engaged and hips still. Lower the weight back down and repeat on the other side.
- Chin-ups: This exercise targets the back, biceps, and shoulders and is an excellent way to improve upper body strength and endurance. Grab onto a chin-up bar with your palms facing towards you, and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself back down and repeat.
- Dumbbell chest fly: Lie flat on a bench with dumbbells in both hands. Lower your arms to the sides of your chest, keep your elbows slightly bent, and start again.
- Incline bench press: Lie down on an incline bench and hold onto the bar with your palms facing away from you. Lower the bar down to your chest and then push it back up to the starting position.
Having a strong core helps to improve balance and stability on the ice. The following are some effective core exercises that can help to develop these skills:
- Swiss ball rollout: Kneel on the ground with a Swiss ball in front of you. Place your forearms on the ball and slowly roll it away from your body, extending your arms until your body is in a straight line. Hold for a few seconds, then use your abs to pull the ball back toward your body.
- V-ups: Lie flat on your back with your arms extended behind your head and your legs straight. Raise your legs and upper body, bringing your hands towards your toes. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your legs and upper body to do it again.
- Bicycle crunches: Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head and your legs in the air. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and twist your torso, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening your right leg. Repeat on the other side, alternating sides with each rep.
- Russian twists with medicine ball: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat, holding the medicine ball with both hands. Lean back slightly and rotate your torso from side to side, tapping the ball on the ground with each twist.
- Dead bug exercise: Lie flat on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your legs in the air with your knees bent. Slowly lower your right arm and left leg towards the ground, keeping your lower back pressed into the ground. Switch to the opposite leg and arm.
Agility and Speed Training
Quick direction changes, breakaways, and explosive starts rely on an athlete's agility and speed. Here are some practical exercises that can help to improve these skills:
- Side shuffle with resistance band: Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, shuffle to one side by taking a step with your leading foot and bringing your trailing foot to meet it. Repeat this motion for several steps before shuffling to the other side. This exercise targets the muscles in the hips, legs, and glutes and helps to improve lateral movement and quick direction changes on the ice.
- Tuck jumps: Start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, jump up explosively and bring your knees to your chest. Land softly and return to the starting position. Repeat for several repetitions. This helps to improve explosiveness and power.
- Box shuffle: To perform this exercise, set up a square or rectangle of cones on the ground. Then, shuffle around the box by taking lateral steps with your leading foot and bringing your trailing foot to meet it. Repeat this motion for several steps before shuffling to the next side of the box. This exercise improves lateral movement and quick direction changes.
- Bounds: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart to perform this exercise. Then, jump forward as far as possible, bringing your knees up towards your chest. Land softly and repeat for several repetitions.
- Hexagon agility drill: To perform this exercise, use cones to set up a hexagon shape on the ground. Then, shuffle in and out of each hexagon corner as quickly as possible.
Always consult a professional trainer or coach before attempting any new exercise, and warm up before any physical activity.
Regularly practicing these exercises can reduce the risk of injury and improve overall body strength to be a more effective player on the ice.