Hockey conditioning on wheels
Last Updated: January 26, 2009 2:37 PM
Ed McNeely Body Check
Conditioning is the icing on the cake for hockey players. It can either make or break a season.
All the speed, agility and power training you've done will be useless if you're too tired to get off the bench by the third period.
Conditioning is also tricky business - too much can very quickly lead to over-training, but too little can put you behind the competition.
On-ice drills early in the season are the best for hockey-specific conditioning. But there is a way to get the jump on the competition without even hitting the ice: bike sprints.
Bike sprints can be incorporated in the first two to three weeks of your training cycle, and then slowly phased out for more specific on-ice drills.
Bike sprint conditioning
Conditioning is always done in intervals: work periods and rest periods. On your bike, this will mean alternating between hard sprints and sitting still.
The intervals differ depending on your level of play: bantam and peewee players should use 12-15 second work periods, midget and junior players need eight- to 10-second work periods.
The rest period should be five or six times longer than that. If you do a 10-second sprint, your rest time will be 50-60 seconds.
Resist the temptation to cut the rest period short. Athletes are always tempted to start up again too soon because they don't feel they're getting anything out of their training when they're sitting still.
But taking less rest means that once you start up again, you'll be pedalling slower, and you'll lose one of the key elements of conditioning training: consistency.
Only after you do a full training session without dropping your speed more than 10 per cent can you start decreasing the rest period.
Sets and reps
Let's think about intervals as sets and reps. Each sprint is a rep, and sets depend on age. Peewee and bantam players should aim for sets of two to four minutes each, and serious midget and junior hockey players should aim for four to six minutes per set.
Each set should contain one minute of work. So, if you were doing 10-second sprints you would need to do six of them, with appropriate rest between sprints, to complete one set. If you were doing 20-second sprints you would do three per set.
At the end of each set take a 10-minute break for a slow walk or jog to help recover for the next set. Repeat the whole process four to six times.« Parents' Roles and Responsibilities | Body Check home | Want to play college or university hockey? Take action »