More and more hockey players are doing a better job of arriving at training camp in shape. More and more coaches are doing a good job of getting their team physically ready to compete once the puck drops on the first game.
But what are you doing to be better once the games start?
It is great to be the most prepared team on the ice in September, but how do you make sure that you are miles ahead of your competition in December? Developing your team's skills, strategies and fitness on the ice will only take you so far. Every team you play against will be making a similar commitment to on-ice improvement. To get to, and stay at, the top of the standings, your team must continue to get stronger, fitter and faster off the ice as the season continues.
By making a commitment to off-ice training in the in-season, you will continue to get better while everyone else is running out of steam. If you can find 30 minutes twice a week to make your team faster and stronger off the ice starting in September, you will leave the opposition in your dust come playoff time.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I have no idea how to run an off-ice training session with my team. This is great in theory, but how is it going to work in practice?"
If you can run an effective on-ice practice, you can run an effective off-ice training session.
There are four qualities your team and players need to develop throughout the season to guarantee that they are fitter and faster than the competition come playoff time: strength, power, speed and agility.
For example, one partner-based exercise that will help your players develop game-breaking agility is Calf Tag. Have players partner up and stand an arms length apart. Players are both trying to tag each other on their lower leg while simultaneously protecting themselves from being tagged. Once one person has been tagged, both athletes must step back and start again. Each tag is worth one point and the first athlete to 5 points wins the game. Play 2 or 3 games up to 5 points.
The great thing about incorporating group-based exercises, such as Calf Tag, into your team training program this season is that they don't require any expensive equipment and you can so the drill anywhere. And most importantly, your players will get faster and have fun.
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS is a Athletic Development Specialist and founder of Total Female Hockey. In addition to training and coaching players at all levels of hockey, from novice to the National team, Kim has also played at the highest level of women's hockey in the world for the last decade. Kim's player development website gives the coaches and parents of aspiring young players access to the most up-to-date programs, articles and advice on how to help their players take their game to the next level. For more team training strategies and ideas on how you can have your best season ever, sign-up for your FREE newsletter at: http://www.totalfemalehockey.com