Use the hockey offseason wisely to get yourself ready!
By Conor Doherty
The hockey offseason is a time when you probably won’t be on the ice all that much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become a better hockey player.
For many hockey players, the summer is a time to relax (unless you’re like us, where the action goes on nonstop, 365 days a year!). It’s a time to forget all about hockey and take a break. A time to catch up with your buddies at a barbecue, knocking back some cool ones (and then there’s the ice cream, of course). But that’s not how to get better and prepare for the new season!
If you’re that sort of rec hockey player, you probably have been “good enough” to play at the level you’re currently at and are fine with that. But that’s the attitude of a loser. You should never be comfortable with being just good enough. You should always be looking to every situation as an opportunity to improve in some way.
Here’s how to make your hockey offseason productive and prepare you for your upcoming hockey season.
1. Set Goals
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever going to end up at the place you want to be? The best way to start improving is to identify your weaknesses and then set goals to improve them. Goals are something that will keep you motivated enough to train and will give you something to work towards. When you don’t have a goal, your workouts will consist of just going through the motions.
Some of you may have a team that you are hoping to make this coming season. Others may be looking to increase their speed on the ice, or to add some lean muscle mass to their body. Whatever your goal is, write it down somewhere and read it every day. Put it in a place where you’ll see it at least once a day so that you can review it and continuously assess your progress.
2. Increase Range of Motion
Playing hockey requires players to constantly be bent over at the hips, which in turn can lead to slouching at the shoulders. The motion of a skating stride is also much different than that of someone who plays a sport where they’re running, like soccer. In either of these cases, you’re going to encounter some muscle imbalance issues that need to be addressed. Believe it or not, something that hockey players could really benefit from in the hockey offseason is to try adding a few yoga poses into their routines, like the frog pose or the pigeon pose for the hips.
3. Add Muscle
Strength, power and speed are three key elements to a hockey player’s game. And the best way to get stronger and faster in the hockey offseason is to pack on some muscle. A couple of ways to ensure that you’re striving towards adding muscle is by working out with weights four times a week, while making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. (A good rule of thumb is to shoot for 1 gram of protein for every one pound of body weight.)
The hockey offseason has to be looked at as an opportunity to get better. Recovery is important, especially at the beginning of the offseason. But don’t take it to the extreme by taking the whole summer off. Set goals, get healthy, and pack on some muscle. You’ll be the better for it come next season.
[Editor’s note: Consult with a physician before undertaking any fitness regimen.]
Conor Doherty is a strength and conditioning coach from Dryden, Ont., Canada. He holds an Honors Bachelor of Kinesiology and his main goal is to help improve the performance of hockey players.