3 Off-Ice Hockey Training Mistakes (Almost) Every Player Makes
Not a week goes by that I don't see, hear, or read about hockey players fucking around in the gym.
It happens at every level of competition.
Even guys you watch on ESPN getting paid six or seven figures to chase a rubber puck in front of 15,000 fans are duped by injurious, performance destroying workouts.
So bad is the current state of off-ice hockey training, I could have extended this list to cover 30 mistakes almost every athlete unknowingly makes, and it still would be nowhere complete.
But just steering away from these three major ones will INSTANTLY give you a leg up on your competition.
Mistake #1: Chasing Fatigue, Not Results
In his book Dominate, PK Subban's strength coach Clance Laylor put it brilliantly:
Hockey players are fatigue seekers.
They equate "great training" with burning muscles, gasping for air, and crippling post-workout soreness.
Just because you feel exhausted after a workout does NOT mean it was productive or brings you any closer to your performance goals.
I'm getting tired of saying it... but I have to repeat it:
Results are the only thing that matters.
If you're not getting bigger and stronger in the gym, you're wasting time.
What do you think will better translate to your game:
Squatting 2x body weight or doing light sets with 135 pounds on the bar?
Deadlifting 500 pounds or repping out 50 burpees?
Bulgarian split squatting 275 pounds for five reps or doing a bodyweight death circuit where your heart rate reaches 200?
I hope you picked heavy squats (both on one and two legs) and deadlifts.
Hit the numbers above and there's no chance in hell you won't have outstanding strength and power with serious muscle mass to boot.
Can't say the same for light squats, burpees, and circuits.
Mistake #2: Overconditioning
Directly tied with mistake #1, skinny weaklings ALWAYS try to compensate for their lack of strength and muscle mass by conditioning themselves to death.
Stationary bike workouts, jogging, battle ropes, circuits, gassers...
All busy work that hockey players turn to in the hopes of curing dead legs in the third period.
Doing tons of random physical activity and bathing athletes in lactate made CrossFit popular.
But it's not how you develop great hockey performance.
Forget the third period when you can't even perform in the first two.
Watch this video to discover off-ice hockey conditioning methods that give you an extra gear late in a game.
I once trained a Dutch Men's National Team player who was weak and skinny.
Unsurprisingly, he struggled with his endurance in the third period. His legs felt exhausted in the dying minutes when the game was on the line.
Even though I had him do very little conditioning outside of hockey practice, this athlete enjoyed a massive boost in his stamina on my program.
He played a career year scoring more goals and points than ever before, won a National Championship, and reported feeling great in the last minutes of a game – with enough gas in the tank to easily play another period if needed.
So what did his off-ice hockey program consist of?
Lots of strength work in the form of squats, deadlifts, weighted chin-ups.
The lesson here?
Getting stronger makes EVERYTHING easier.
Stop pummeling yourself into the ground with excess cardio.
Just get friggin' strong.
Mistake #3: Unstable Surface Training
How many times have you seen clips of an NHL star perform some type of squat balancing on a BOSU or dumbbell bench presses lying on a stability ball?
That crap is all over the internet and makes my blood boil!
The argument goes something like this:
Skating requires great balance and core strength because you're standing on thin blades on a slippery ice surface.
So training on unbalanced surfaces will improve both, therefore translating to higher hockey performance.
Just one small problem...
It's all WRONG!
Without going too deep into it, the big barbell lifts strengthen your abdominals and lower back muscles (aka your "core") more than split squatting a pair of 20-pound dumbbells on a BOSU ball ever could.
Try squatting 2x bodyweight and deadlifting 3x bodyweight.
Nobody who can do that has got a weak core or weak anything.
Okay... but at least exercises on wobbly implements help with stability on skates, right?
Balance is a task-specific ability.
Superior balance in one activity doesn’t transfer to superior balance in a different activity.
You could be the world's greatest tightrope walker, defying death by crossing a 150-meter gap between two skyscrapers, yet that wouldn't add anything to your skating because the two activities are unrelated, take place on different surfaces, and use different equipment and movement patterns.
Remember that the next time a "trainer" tells you to suck in the navel as you stand on a stability ball while patting your head.
You're being taken for a ride.
And here's the kicker...
Lower body training on unstable surfaces, even if it's a small part of your workouts, kills your strength and speed.
For a thorough deep dive into this topic, read Chapter 3 in my book Strength Training For Ice Hockey where I break down the fallacy of balance training with scientific research.
Outside of rehab (and even that's debatable), there's no reason for a healthy hockey athlete to EVER add silly circus tricks on inflatable balls, balance boards or rubber discs to their routine.
If you're looking for a proven off-ice hockey plan to gain more strength, speed and size than you ever thought possible, then check out Next Level Hockey Training 2.0.
Thousands of hockey players – ranging from men's rec league players to D1 college athletes and NHL draft picks – use these workouts to gain an unfair performance advantage in the gym.
And it's available for you right here today:
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