Ice Hockey Training

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An ice hockey training plan should develop a combination of aerobic power, strength and muscle bulk, explosive speed and power as well as good anaerobic endurance. One thing is certain — the game is certainly unique…

On average players perform for 15-20 minutes of a 60-minute game. A typical interval on the rink lasts 30-80 seconds with a 4-5 minute rest interval between shifts. These shifts tend to be anaerobic in nature with short, intense bouts of high speed skating and aggressive body contact, demanding a high level of anaerobic endurance and muscular strength (1). And a player’s aerobic capacity and tolerance to lactic acid are related to a player’s time on the ice and the number of scoring chances (2).

The intermittent nature of the game means that aerobic endurance becomes important, helping players to recover between shifts and produce the same level of performance in the 59th minute as in the 1st minute. Couple all this with the unnatural movement of skating and holding a stick and it becomes obvious why ice hockey is highly physically challenging.

Today’s elite hockey players are physically bigger, faster and stronger than their predecessors (3). They are one of just a few groups of athletes that may benefit from hypertrophy training for increased muscle bulk (4).

However, while weight training is an integral part of the annual ice hockey training plan, it must be specific. Increased lean mass is not the only goal of strength training. Gains in maximal strength are only useful on the rink if they are converted into explosive power and power endurance. This takes a more refined approach than a typical bodybuilding routine.

As the intense physical contact in hockey exposes players to an increased risk of injury, conditioning also plays an important role here too. In the words of Wayne Gretsky… “For a better conditioned athlete there is less chance of injury, and conditioning promotes career longevity. The player also becomes mentally stronger, after enduring the intense efforts required for conditioning…”.

By preparing the body adequately for competitive games, a well-designed ice hockey training program can help to prevent many of the chronic and acute injuries that are inherent in the sport.

Take a look through the articles below. They cover the different elements of fitness important to hockey players. You will also find sample programs, sessions and drills to help you become a fitter, more complete player.

Ice Hockey Training Articles

Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance
At first glance, aerobic endurance might not seem too important to players who spend just 30-80 seconds on the rink at a time. However, the ability to repeat high intensity bouts of work throughout the game is reliant on good endurance. As you might expect, interval endurance training is more suitable to ice hockey players compared to steady-state training…

Training to Increase Lactate Tolerance
The multi-sprint nature of ice hockey, often with minimal rest periods, means that blood lactate can soon accumulate in players. Nothing is more debilitating than lactate accumulation so this form of tolerance training can have a dramatic effect on a player’s performance…

Strength Training The Sport-Specific Way
Strength training has become an essential component in an ice hockey training program. While it’s true that ice hockey players require brute force and strength to cope with the physical demands of the game, explosive power is also an important consideration…

How To Design Resistance Training Programs For Athletes
Here is the step-by-step process of developing a sport-specific strength training plan – one that meets the demanding nature of the sport…

Power Training for Athletes
Strength and power are not the same. Do ice hockey players need to be powerful? Absolutely. Learn how you can convert a solid strength base into explosive power on the field…

Plyometric Training for Developing Explosive Power
Plyometrics is used in many sports as an effective way to increase speed and power. Ice hockey players can benefit from both upper and lower body plyometric exercises…

Using Power Cleans in Sports Conditioning
Power cleans can be useful for developing explosive power (in appropriate sports). Use this technique guide and animated images to see how the lift should be performed correctly…

Flexibility Exercises for Hockey
Increased flexibility may reduce the risk of certain injuries. It may also allow a hockey player to move with greater dexterity, agility and finesse…

Dynamic Stretches & Stretching Routine
Dynamic stretching is now recommended over static stretching before a game or ice hockey training session…

A Sample Off Season Ice Hockey Training Program
The off or closed season is typically about rest and regeneration. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing at all…

Self Myofascial Release Exercises
Key to the success of any training program is adequate recovery and the avoidance of injury. Ice hockey involves more physical contact than most sports, which may lead to localized, acute muscle damage. Myofascial release exercises help to relieve trigger points that, if left untreated, may leave the athlete more susceptible to muscle tears


1) Montgomery, D.L. Physiology of ice hockey. Sports Medicine. 1998. 5, (2), 99-12

2) Green MR, Pivarnik JM, Carrier DP, Womack CJ. Relationship between physiological profiles and on-ice performance of a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I hockey team. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Feb;20(1):43-6

3) Cox, M., Miles, D., Verde, T. & Rhodes, E. Applied physiology of ice hockey. Sports Medicine. 1995. 19, (3), 184-201

4) Greer, N., Serfass, R., Picconatto, W. & Blatherwick, J. The effects of hockey specific training program on performance in bantam players. Canadian Journal of Sports Sciences. 1992 17, (1) 65-69