In Season Hockey Training

I coach a 15 year old hockey team. We play two games and have three on ice practices (4 hours) a week during the season. Practices are Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Home games are Wednesday, Away games vary.

We do a lot of speed work (sprints, high tempo flow drills, etc.) for 35 minutes on Saturday and 50 minutes Monday. Sunday we concentrate on skills (edges, puckhandling, etc and systems/ game prep).

We have jump boards and medicine balls that we use (and we do some fast foot exercises) before Saturday and Sunday practices.

I have two questions:
I want the players to maintain or even improve strength, explosive power, and speed during the season. With our fairly busy schedule, can our practice routine be reorganized to achieve these results more effectively?

What days would be best to have the players hit the weight room, and what type of exercises/ lifts would be best? (Burnout is a concern.)

Robbie E mail me at
I run an off ice conditioning centre in west.miss./oakville and might be of some help

Check out They just posted an article on hockey conditioning

The John Berardi site also has a very extensive Bompa-modelled hockey program, not sure what it’s like but might be of interest…

I wrote that article. It is a pre-season program. I coach at the University of Pittsburgh and we have a seperate in-season routine we follow. It consists of three lifting days. The weight program is really designed to maintain strength gains made during the pre-season routine. We do a sub-maximal weight bench day with some aux work, a speed bench day plus some aux work, a sub-maximal squat day, and a dryland day designed to build explosiveness. It consists of short forward and backwards sprinting with full recovery between each rep along with some plyometrics. The dryland routine only takes about 20 minutes. We practice twice a week and play two games each weekend. Our practices are very high tempo and designed so there is very little standing around, this takes care of general conditioning.

E-mail me if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help you out if I can.

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the article.

Thanks, the program is a work in progress and I am going to get some feedback from the guys and see what they thought. We are implementing a three phase program for the year, the off-season routine from the article, an in-season program as described above, and a post-season for guys who need to put on some weight.

Robbie: my first question is how much strength/power training experience do your athletes have? Have they all lifted before? They may benefit from a beginner type of program. I have not yet read JohnRov´s program, but remember he is dealing with college athletes who are for the most part physically mature and probably were working out hard all summer in the weightroom.

You have to consider the physical maturation of your players, and their previous training experience. If they are on ice 5 days a week do they need extra power training? I think a strength training program is a good idea, but I think this is a case where it is better to do too little than too much. If you have build a solid strength base during the off season, then you can maintain this. But if some of the kids weren´t training regularly over the summer, you may burn them out. Glad to read in your post that the possibility of burn out is also in your equation.

For speed and explosiveness, don’t consider flow work as part of that. Flow work is to get a good tempo for practice, get guys moving and get them lots of touches on the puck. Even the sprints we do at the end of practice are general conditioning work. For speed, we do off-ice sprints (about 15 yards) with full recovery between reps as well as plyometrics and jump stretch exercises (repeated vertical jumps for 5 reps)

You can maintain strength gains made during the off-season with sub-maximal weights. You can’t train everything at once, meaning you can’t get stronger, get faster, get more explosive, improve stick handling, improve skating technique, etc. all at the same time. Attempting to do this will put tremendous stress in an athlete, especially in your age range where they have a million other things going on in their lives besides hockey. Focus on a few things at a time.

I would give them a routine they can get through in one session a week with the option of dividing it up into two days if they have time. Focus on compound movements and make sure to target the posterior chain and core. Throw some explosiveness training into the beginning of your practice after they are warmed up and stretched out. Combine it with a goalie warm-up. For example, have the guys form three lines at one end. Stand at the blue line near the boards with pucks. Have them go 100% to the hash marks or top of the circles then relax to normal speed and give them a pass and let them go 1-1. This lets you focus on explosiveness without making the drill boring and warms up your goalies for the rest of practice. Hope this was helpful.