PART II: Hockey-Specific Dryland Drills for On-Ice Power

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Welcome to a three-part series from SportsCare Performance Institute tailored for today’s athlete. With a focus on ice hockey, SportsCare’s Strength and Conditioning Coach and Athletic Trainer Scott Gunter takes a look at three areas of improvement from warm-up to prevent injury, maximizing on-ice performance and endurance, and reducing recovery time to stay on the ice for longer periods of time.

Last week we looked at hockey-specific warm-ups to maximize performance and prevent injury. This week we take a look at dryland drills you can do to help maximize your on-ice power.

For more information on the SportsCare Institute, the proud physical therapy and marketing partner of the New York Red Bulls and a proud partner of the New York Rangers, visit them here.

Part II: Hockey-Specific Dryland Drills for On-Ice Power

Power is a blend of strength and speed. If you are incredibly strong, but can’t produce that force quickly or have great speed but cannot maintain that speed when met by an outside resisting force, you probably won’t have much success in sports. On the other hand, if you understand where your currents strengths lie, and compare that to the needs of your sport and position, you can enhance your performance and gain an edge on the competition.

Think of strength and speed on a continuum, where you have absolute single-repetition strength on one end and absolute speed on the other end. On the strength end, you have sports like powerlifting (bench press, deadlift, and squat) and strongman competitions, while the speed end includes sprinting and jumping events like the 100m dash or long jump. Once this is appreciated, you can take it a step further to think about where your sport and position falls on the spectrum. I say position, because you have many sports that have great diversity in the demand of their positions, like the difference between a lineman and wide receiver or kicker in football. In hockey, we see more individualized characteristics where some players capitalize on their speed to beat their opponent to the puck while others take advantage of their brute strength to create a physical presence. As a constantly moving sport, hockey as a whole falls much closer to the absolute speed end of the spectrum. Fine tune this based on your individual traits. From here, look at where you have the greatest room for improvement and consider emphasizing this to further boost your strong points.

To address strength, we must add resistance to the muscles and stimulate them to contract with greater force than baseline. To elicit change, this resistance must be great enough above baseline to create an adaptive response. Because of this, the greatest strength work should be performed prior to the season, when adequate time is left for recovery and your resistance training won’t negatively impact your skill training. In addition, the type of exercises we perform should increase in specificity the closer you get to the season. This implies that the resistance, speed, and movement patterns will more closely resemble what you do on the ice while allowing for a more complete recovery as you approach competition.

To address speed, our goal is to stimulate our fast twitch muscle fibers and improve the efficiency of our stretch-shortening reflexes. Plyometrics are incredibly effective here because they involve a quick stretch in your muscles followed by a rapid contraction. These include jumping, bounding, hopping and certain throwing variations. For lower extremity training, place a high emphasis on triple extension with core stability in both linear and lateral planes. Triple extension refers to full extension at the hip, knee, and ankle of the leg or legs generating force. Core stability implies that extra movement isn’t being lost with excess flexion or extension in the lumbar spine (lower back-typically extends with leg extension and flexes with hip flexion in poor mobility/stability situations). Control of this provides an optimal environment for energy transfer through the body. For upper extremity work, emphasis rotation and speed throwing.

Below is a series of hybrid speed and power exercises to elevate your on-ice game:
1. Squat Jumps 4×8-10 (Consider adding sprint out)
2. Split Squat Jumps 4×5-6 ea. (Consider adding sprint out)
3. Hop Hop Tuck 3×6 (Consider adding sprint out)
4. Stomping Step Up 3-4×8 (Adjust weight to training age and ability to control mechanics)
5. Prowler Bounds 6×10-15 yards (Weight should be movable with triple extension)
6. SL RDL with Rotational MB Throw 3×6 ea. side

Written Special to HockeyClan by:

Scott Gunter, ATC, CSCS. USAW. Pn1, FMSC
Video Credit: Decker Lindsay, CSCS, USAW, FMSC



Main Image: Connor McDavid goes through some stretches in the weight room at St. Michael’s Ice Arena in York, Ontario, Canada. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

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