Sports Series: Ice Hockey- How to Train for Optimal Development | Enliven Nutrition
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Sports Series: Ice Hockey- How to Train for Optimal Development

The most successful ice hockey players are characterised by the ability to accelerate quickly whilst demonstrating the capacity for rapid multi-directional changes. Whilst it is essential for the athlete to dedicate a good proportion of their available training time to skating and technical skill development, all too often the progression for physical attributes is poorly planned and programmed for.

Often this is the result of a gap in knowledge in respect to parents and coaching staff who do not have the required training or experience in the development and provision of strength and conditioning programs. To ensure you aren’t missing out, we always recommend that you consult a strength and conditioning coach who has the ability to balance and plan your overall athletic development.

So what should you see in a strength and conditioning plan to elevate your game to its potential?

Follow our step by step checklist to ensure your yearly periodised program provides optimal athletic development:

  1. Adaptation Phase: Junior athletes, novice athletes or those inexperienced in strength training should commence with a resistance training program geared to acclimatize the body to additional loading (often call anatomical adaptation). Here you will see a number of general resistance style exercises (e.g. squats, bench press, pull up) with light-moderate weight and high repetitions to ensure the correct movement patterns are rehearsed by the athlete to decrease the risks of any training related injuries. This also serves to strengthen ligaments and tendons for what lies ahead. Ideally we would like to see this period last four weeks, however the athlete’s schedule will determine this.
  2. Hypertrophy Phase: Essentially this phase is heavily focused on building lean muscle mass which may or may not be required given the positional requirements and starting body composition of the athlete. Of all training principles we will see time under tension and progressive overload paramount to achieving the desired results alongside an appropriate performance nutrition plan. Exercises are still usually general in nature using a variety of compound lifts (e.g. squats) and isolation (e.g. leg extentions) to achieve the desired effects.
  3. Maximum Strength: Only possible following a solid foundation of adaptation phase to ensure minimising injury risks. Characterised by hard, heavy sessions with long rest intervals and maximal or near-maximal efforts. Expect to see the big compound lifts from power-lifting (squat, bench press, deadlift) alongside a number of accessory exercises and stages of Olympic lifts. Note there may be some progression to more specific exercises dependent on the athletes level, schedule and requirements.
  4. Power: Now combining speed and strength, this is where things get interesting and usually far more sports specific. Expect to see numerous elements of Olympic lifts (e.g. cleans,snatch, jerks and variations) with all movements performed at explosive speeds and near maximal weights (although this can also be moderate weights depending on requirements).
  5. Conversion Phase: The culmination of all phases to focus on the core of ice hockey, power-endurance. Specific movement patterns employed alongside base Olympic lifts to convert maximal strength and power gains into movements that replicate those seen in the sport.

Keep in mind, the concurrent nature of periodised training will always plan to maintain gains in each phase when the focus is shifted to the following phase. We would also see a concurrent progression for energy system training within these sessions, gradually shifting focus between aerobic, lactic acid and a-lactic systems with a predominance for lactic acid and a-lactic energy system training.


Consult one of strength and conditioning experts at Enliven Nutrition Performance Division or speak to NSA Hockey at to ensure you have the best training plan to ensure you become better than yesterday.