Off-season training is incredibly important. To be an elite hockey player, you have to train nearly year round, with a few months to rest. Unless you have your rink or a lot of money for a personal trainer that comes with a rink, you likely will do the majority of your training off the ice. There are many options available to you to continue to develop your skills, even if you don’t have ice available to you.
Hit the driveway
We likely all played hockey in the driveway, or in the street as a kid, and that doesn’t have to stop now! Pick up a net, grab a stick and some pucks and get to work! There are many websites and sports stores that offer full sets that would include things like a net, a goalie buddy, pucks, and a shooting pad. If you use your actual stick, and your actual glove, it’ll feel a lot more like a real game as well.
What’s paramount here, to get the correct feel, and to save your stick, is the shooting pad. It’s a pad that you have on the ground that feels a lot like ice and acts like ice. Your pucks and stick will react as if they are on the ice, which can give simulate the feeling of being back on the pond.
I know, I know. We all hate the idea of cardio, including hitting the bike. We’d rather lift weights, or just straight up play shinny. However, there’s a reason that NHL players are fitness tested on bikes. There’s a reason that they cool down after games on bikes. Stationary or not, the bike is a great place to build up the muscles in your legs that you use most when you skate. Running is fine, but it’s not great for your shins. Biking will give you the leg strength that you need to power through the defense or keep up with a speedy forward.
Throw around a ball
This can be done in a lot of ways, but throwing a ball around can help your hand-eye coordination. Not necessarily throwing a baseball across a diamond, but focus more on short tosses with a tennis ball. The best part is, all you need is a tennis ball and a wall. If you focus on making quick tosses against a wall and catching the ball with the same hand, you begin to train your eyes to know what’s coming next. This is especially good for goalies, as many NHL goalies do this before games to connect their eyes and their hands. However, for skaters, hand-eye coordination is just as crucial. How many times during a game do you reach for the puck with a hand, either off a deflection, or a clearing attempt? It happens more than you think, and you need to be ready for it.
While goalies throw a tennis ball against a wall, the rest of the skaters are usually playing soccer (or keep it up) in the hall way to loosen up. While keeping up hand eye (or, maybe foot eye) coordination, it also loosens, and strengthens, your leg and groin muscles. While it won’t increase your cardio like riding a bike will, it will give you the necessary flexibility to play a more well-rounded game.
Watch instructional videos
Let’s be honest, as much as we think we know what works best for us, there are plenty of people out there who are much more experienced, and are smarter than we are when it comes to skill development. With an endless amount of internet out there, it might seem intimidating, and it’s effortless to get lost. CoachTube has a comprehensive website, full of hockey instructional videos across all sports, including hockey. If you haven’t lurked around the site yet to find some of our best videos, please do! You’ll find all sorts of videos, from trained professionals, that can show you what’s necessary (and helpful) for you in your office training.
As much as we’d all like to be on the ice year round, it’s just not possible for many of us. Hopefully, you can find some off ice training that gives you what you need, while still being enjoyable.