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Unleashing Potential with Impact Hockey's Off-Ice/Dry-Land Training Program

In the world of hockey, training doesn't stop when players step off the ice. To reach their full potential, athletes need comprehensive training programs that enhance their physical strength, speed, and endurance, both on and off the ice. One such program is the off-ice/dry-land training program offered at Impact Hockey, designed to help hockey players maximize their growth and development.

Understanding Off-Ice/Dry-Land Training

Before delving into the specifics of Impact Hockey's off-ice/dry-land training program, it's crucial to understand what off-ice/dry-land training involves. In essence, it is a structured exercise regimen that focuses on improving a player's strength, stability, flexibility, speed, and stamina, all of which are critical for their performance during games.

The Five Essential Elements of Dry-Land Training

A well-designed hockey dryland training program is composed of five main elements:

  1. Flexibility: This often-neglected element is the foundation of your movement. Stretching and self-myofascial release can help improve mobility and reduce stress on your lower back.

  2. Stability: This involves enhancing hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, and core stability. Functional stabilization can help players perform better in specific game situations, such as battling in the corners and along the boards.

  3. Strength: Developing strength, the amount of force you can produce, is the easiest way to improve skating speed. However, players need to focus on building strength, not bulk, to avoid slowing down on the ice.

  4. Speed: Once you have established a foundation of strength, the next step is to practice applying that force as quickly as possible to increase power and speed on the ice.

  5. Stamina: Hockey players need to maintain high energy levels throughout the game, not just in the first period. Stamina training helps ensure that players can continue to perform at their best, even in the final stages of a game.

In-Season vs. Off-Season Training

Training should vary depending on whether it is in-season or off-season. Off-season training should be more intense and the primary focus of your development. A typical off-season hockey training program consists of different phases of training that start by building a strong foundation and recovering from any past injuries, then building up to explosive speed and power training. During the off-season, serious hockey players train five or six days per week. If you want to see improvements, three times per week is the bare minimum.

During the hockey season, your workouts should be more condensed, since your performance on the ice becomes the priority. Most players get good stamina training with their on-ice practices and games, so the emphasis off the ice shifts to injury prevention and maintaining or improving max strength and power production. During the season, it is tougher to fit in your workouts, but you should get in at least two or three per week. They may only last 30-45 minutes.

The Impact Hockey Approach

Impact Hockey focuses on several key areas in its off-ice/dry-land training program.

Skill and Skating Development

Players work on critical fundamentals, mastering them through correct repetition to form elite habits. This forms the basis for becoming a more skilled and effective player on the ice.

Split Ice Positional Development

The training program groups forwards at one end of the rink and defensemen at the other end. This separation allows players to target the critical aspects of their unique game, helping them to improve in specific areas more effectively.

Game Situations and Competition

The program includes competitive practice sessions that feature several battles and competition drills, as well as high-intensity scrimmages (subject to COVID restrictions). This aspect of training helps players to apply their skills in game-like situations, preparing them for actual match.

Dry-Land Training

Impact Hockey's dry-land training program is structured into phases to peak players for the start of their training camp. The program emphasizes the importance of developing strength, power, mass, speed, quickness, and explosive power elements during the off-season. This training is crucial to players' development as these physical traits often determine whether they make it to the next level in hockey. The program is designed to address the specific needs of each player, enabling them to develop the athletic qualities necessary to excel on the ice.

Sample Dryland Workouts

Here are a couple of sample workouts that align with the principles used in Impact Hockey's dryland training program:

1. Early Off-Season Workout:

  • 90/90 Hip Stretch: 1x30-second hold each way

  • Hamstring + Rotation: 1x10 each side

  • Hip Flexor + Glide: 1x10 each side

  • Skater Squat: 3x8 each side

  • Push Up + Walk Out: 3x8 each side

  • Superman & Hold: 3x45 seconds each side

  • Squat Jump: 3x6

  • Side Plank: 3x45 seconds each side

  • Skate Hop & Stick: 3x6 each side

  • Seated Hip Circles: 3x6 each leg

2. Late Off-Season Workout:

  • Squat Jump to Accelerate: 3x6

  • Plyo Push-Up: 3x8

  • Single Leg Squat: 3x4 each side

  • 1/2 Kneeling Bungee Row: 3x6 each

  • Bungee Hip Block + Opening Step: 3x6 each way

  • Bear Crawl: 3x10 yards

  • Accelerate + X-Over + Sprint 10 yards: 3x4 each way (walk back for rest)

Cardio training is also important, and shuttle runs are a great way to build stamina for hockey. Shuttle runs involve changing direction and working on speed even when your leg muscles are tired, which mirrors the demands of a hockey game.

The Takeaway

Off-ice/dry-land training is a vital component of a hockey player's overall development. It enhances a player's strength, speed, flexibility, stability, and stamina, making them more effective and resilient on the ice. Impact Hockey's off-ice/dry-land training program provides a comprehensive and targeted approach to help players improve their game and prepare for the challenges they will face in the future. By focusing on both individual skill development and team game situations, Impact Hockey's program offers a holistic approach to hockey training that goes beyond the ice.

Training Intensity and Frequency

The intensity and frequency of training should differ between the off-season and the in-season. The off-season is typically when more intense training occurs and should be the primary focus of player development. Hockey players should aim to train five or six days per week during the off-season. Three times per week is considered the bare minimum if you want to see improvements​.

In contrast, during the hockey season, training should be more condensed, as the primary focus shifts to performance on the ice. During this period, off-ice training emphasizes injury prevention and maintaining or improving maximum strength and power production. It can be challenging to fit in workouts during the season, but players should strive for at least two or three per week, each lasting approximately 30-45 minutes.

Sport-Specific Training

When designing a hockey dryland training program, it's essential to focus on training movement patterns rather than individual muscles. Exercises should reflect the demands of hockey and encourage power development from the legs and hips, with force transfer through the torso to the upper extremities. Also, exercises that require stabilization, such as Push-Ups, are preferable over ones that don't, like Bench Presses. Remember, the goal is not to mimic exactly what you do on the ice with resistance but to enhance the lines of movements and muscles that need to work together during a hockey game​​.

Continuous Development

Last but not least, keep in mind that development is a continuous process. Regular, consistent training is necessary to see improvements over time. Both on-ice and off-ice/dry-land training are essential components of becoming a better hockey player. Balancing both types of training, along with proper rest and nutrition, can help players reach their full potential.

Remember that each player is unique, and training should be tailored to their individual needs and goals. This is why programs like the one offered by Impact Hockey can be so effective, as they provide a structured, comprehensive approach to training that can be customized to the needs of individual players.

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