Let’s be honest – as most people get older, they tend to slow down. Adult hockey players are no different. Quite often, the team with the best skaters – and the most endurance – ends up on the winning side of the scoreboard. For many, the deciding factor is all in the legs.
We asked Paul Lamoureux, skill development coach, certified exercise physiologist and owner of Ascend Hockey, for some simple off-ice exercises adult players can do to improve acceleration and general lower body strength.
USA Hockey: When is acceleration most critical for a hockey player? What situations?
Paul Lamoureux: Acceleration is used in many situations on the ice. Being able to chase after a loose puck, or chase down an opposing player can be the difference between winning and losing.
USA Hockey: Why is lower body strength so important for adult hockey players?
Paul Lamoureux: It is important for players to strengthen and maintain their lower body because of high demand and impact placed on them while on the ice. Lack of strength in the lower body will result in decreased performance and increased risk of injury. It is crucial for any hockey player who wishes to play, regardless of age.
USA Hockey: Are you ever too old to get in shape?
Paul Lamoureux: It is never too late to get in shape. Being able to fit daily activity and exercise into daily living will enhance and boost many areas of your life. Fitness will also lead to less injuries and increased performance on the ice.
USA Hockey: What are some off-ice exercises adult players can do to improve acceleration and lower body strength?
Paul Lamoureux: The following is an adult “lower body circuit.” Athletes should aim to complete the predetermined number of repetitions within 60 seconds and use whatever time is left in that minute to rest before moving on to the next set. Complete 3-5 sets.
Body weight squats (15-20 repetitions)
Keeping the knees behind the toes, squat down shooting the butt back. Go down to where the femur is parallel with the ground. Practice can be done squatting down to a stool or low stair.
Jump Squats (15-20 repetitions)
Start down in that squatting position. Hips down and back, chest up, core tight, weight in your heels. Use your arms to get momentum and jump as high as you can. When coming down to a landing position, make sure you land nice and soft with your knees bent back in that squatting position.
Split Squat (8-10 repetitions per leg)
Begin in a staggered stance position, up on the back toes, to shift weight to your front leg. Then descend to the depth your stability and strength allow before returning to starting position by pushing the front foot through the floor.
Glute Bridge (10-20 repetitions)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Bring your feet back so they are directly under your knees. Squeeze your glutes and push your pelvis up off the floor. Hold at the top for 2 seconds, then return to start. Make sure to use glute muscles keeping the lower back relaxed and hamstrings minimally involved.
Front Plank (Hold as long as possible)
Start with your elbows on the ground right below your shoulders and your feet together. Tighten belly and do not allow hips to sag down towards the floor.