Hockey Off-Season training - Part 1

Posted by Eric Hofmann on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Under: Health and Fitness blog

Well I apologize for the delay and seemingly sporadic posts we have had recently. Being involved in the hockey world with two teams makes for a very busy February/March with playoffs looming. With that said - I would like to discuss off-season training for hockey players - at all levels. After all, that is what Performance Training is all about. Yes, we do have other sports and genres that we work with. However, hockey is our main focus. I could write on several different subjects all relating to Off-season training but what I would like to focus on in this article is:

  1. What to do when the season ends?
  2. Where to start in regards to off-season training for hockey?

Moving forward this will be the beginning of a 6-part series on off-ice training for hockey players. The subjects will look like this:

1.      Intro

2.      Stick-Handling

3.      Power Shooting

4.      Strength/Size

5.      Speed/Agility

6.      Conditioning

At the bottom of each post mentioned above I will provide a training program for that specific goal in my mind. So having said that, at the bottom of this post I will provide a basic first step into a multifaceted off-season training program. A great start/base into legitimate off season training.

Before getting started I suppose, I, should give a brief background on myself. I, currently reside in the state of Hockey serving as a MN High School Head Coach – Boys & an Assistant for the Rochester Ice Hawks Junior A – Tier III of the MnJHL. I also own and operate Performance Training which is a training company for all athletes specifically Hockey (matter of fact we just had our first client make it to the NHL and he scored!) You can read more about me and what I have done by viewing my LinkedIn profile by clicking here:

Looking into our first question, “What to do when the season ends?”

Without wasting any more time. Let’s get to it. This season (2013-14) I will have been on the bench for over 70 games between HS and Junior level hockey. I have been in those locker rooms and with those players for the entirety. I can tell you from pure experience as well as backed up by education what should happen once these players transition into the off-season. Unfortunately, a lot of times the logical and best path is not always taken. Resulting in:

·         Over-training

·         Injuries/prone to injury

·         Undue stress

·         Alcohol/drug abuse

·         Fatigue

·         Weight loss/muscle loss

·         Insomnia

·         Decreased immune system


·         Poor physical performance despite training

·         Heart palpitations

The above mentioned symptoms are from one item that seems to be abused more and more every year. And, that is Rest. I recommend to all of my players to take 4 weeks off of everything when the season ends. I actually encourage them to play golf, go fishing, be a couch potato, etc. The reason for this is simple. They need time to rest and recover both mentally and physically. There is NO time for that during the season. I am talking about a good amount of rest and recovery. Heal those injuries from December. Rebuild your mind from the grueling 5-6 days at the rink for the last 20 weeks. Unfortunately, what is happening – specifically at the High School level are all of these elite league and high performance camps. Followed by Junior tryouts and showcase camps. Not to mention the edge for competition has increased 10-fold over the last years. Meaning the pressure on these athletes is enormous. Not giving them time to rest and recover and offering these leagues/camps/showcases right after an intense season puts a lot of pressure on players and parents. Giving them the mentality of, “No time for rest” – which is flat out the wrong way to go about any sport for that matter. Rest and Recovery is much needed. Think of it this way in a typical High School hockey season. A player will have 25 games + playoffs, 55-65 hours of practice ice all in a 17-week time frame. Junior hockey is even furthermore physically demanding, College hockey is even more demanding on the body. And, if you go right into training and elite leagues, etc. When do you have time to heel from the season?

Right? Think about it. Let’s look at a skater’s stride and how often it is used in terms of reps from a game to a practice. A skater probably has anywhere from 50-150 reps per game in regards to his stride (Playing time is shown in the varied here). In practice everyone should have the same amount of reps or close to, will say 100-150 reps per leg – for one hour of practice. In a Minnesota High School Season we practice every day but Sunday. Our season is a maximum of 17 weeks long. Roughly 60 hours of practice ice to 25 regular season games. Here are the individual leg rep totals for a 17 week period:

·         Practice: 6,000 – 9,000 reps (each leg)

·         Games: 1,250 – 3,750 reps (each leg)

·         Total: 7,250 – 12,750 reps (each leg)

This is not including any other highly repetitive movement like shooting or dealing with other injuries that occur during the season. This is purely looking at the skating stride. Think of the muscles involved here: Hamstrings, Quads, calves, hip flexors, ankles, and core. They are being used roughly 7,250 – 12,750 times with little to no rest. No wonder why groin injuries are so common in Hockey, ehh? Think about it. One month out of 12 is not asking for a whole lot – especially when the reward is so high!

Harvard health has this to say about rest, Injured tissues need time to heal. It’s an obvious principle, but once you’re hooked on exercise you may be tempted to ignore it. Don’t give in to temptation — you’ll shortchange yourself with shortcuts. But you can rest selectively; you may have to give up tennis while your serving shoulder recovers from tendinitis, but you can still walk, jog, or hike. In a curious way, an injury is often a blessing in disguise, forcing you to diversify your workouts and acquire new skills.”

When you start to look at it a little more objectively I hope you too can see the logic in taking some time off when the season is over. At the end of the day you come back mentally recharged and physically stronger. Ready to begin a legitimate off-season training program! If you are still on the fence about needing to train and skate for these elite leagues. Let me tell you a story about an individual who I happen to know. He is from a very small town in Minnesota – a non hockey town at that. Never did one tryout or combine or elite league. Took his time off, trained hard when it was time too. Went to an open NAHL tryout and from there he made it to the NHL where he currently is. Moral of the story – you don’t need these elite league/AAA/combines. What you do need is a solid off-season training program/camp and bring the competitive level to the season!

Let’s move onto to Question 2; “Where to start in terms of off-season training?”

After resting for 4 weeks you are ready to begin. You feel good both mentally and physically and you most likely were just starting to get use to this whole couch potato and golf business. Now the next 11 months are a grind. With a very small window for you to become more athletic and more prepared for the winter season. Which oddly enough starts in early September these days. This is the prime-time and matter of fact the only time, in which, a Hockey player can successfully and intelligently add muscle mass to his/her frame. The next 6-8 weeks are purely dedicated to putting on size all over the body. This program should also have a limited amount of cardiovascular type training. All energy and focus should be on strength training and a sound flexibility program. Ideally, you will want to train in the gym. 3-4 days a week. While stretching 1-2 times a day. Your nutritional guideline would be at its highest; in terms of caloric intake during this time period. Finally, I would recommend finding a Personal Trainer for this point of your training. This is not necessarily hockey specific and you are just looking to add size – any decent professional trainer should be able to help with that.

In closing – it is very important to take the time away from the game and focus on anything and everything else for a few weeks. Let your body and mind properly heal before focusing and preparing for the next season. The first action after your rest should be a focus on adding muscle mass to your frame. Due to the unique time constraints, athletic needs, and abilities of the game of hockey - you only have a small window to add muscle mass.

As promised here is the first training program I would recommend to my players and clients. Obviously, it would vary from individual to individual. This is a very basic – roundabout – Phase one training program. If you have any questions, comments or concerns in regards to any of the above. Please feel free to contact me at:

Phase I – Mass building; 6-8 weeks, 3-4 days a week.


  • Bench press 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Incline BB press 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • DB Flys 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Decline press 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • BB shrugs 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Lat Pull-down 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Seated row 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Front-grip pull up 3 sets x till failure
  • Back extensions 3 sets x 15-20 reps


  • Squat 5 sets x 18,15,12,10,8
  • Single leg extension 3 sets x 12,10,8
  • Hamstring curl 3 sets x 12,10,8
  • Lateral hop 3 sets x 30-45 seconds
  • Adductor 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Abductor 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Squat jumps 3 sets x 30-50 reps
  • Calf Raise 2 sets x till failure 

Arms & Core

  • Ab-Machine 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Oblique twist 3 sets x 18-20 reps
  • Leg lifts 3 sets x 18-20 reps
  • SB Plank 3 sets x 1-2 minutes
  • BB Shoulder press 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Lateral raise 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Rope pull-down 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Skull crushers 3 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Normal grip pull-up 3 sets x till failure
  • Diamond Push-ups 2 sets x till failure
  • Wrist curls 2 sets x till failure

Take up to a two-minute rest between each set. Begin each training day with a 5-10 minute warm-up of your choosing focusing on elevating your heart rate. Within 20-35 minutes of completing training, consume 30-50 grams of protein.

Look for the rest of this 6-part hockey off-season training series over the coming weeks!

In : Health and Fitness blog 

Tags: hockey  off-season training  training  dryland  offseason training  rest 
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