When we perform our off-season conditioning drills for hockey we want to have a purpose in mind. Are we trying to improve our fitness? And if so what does this mean? Do we mean our aerobic capacity? Or maybe our lactate threshold? Something else? Obviously there are a number of factors to consider when deciding on plan for your off-season training for hockey.

Usually we advise to consider two things when designing your conditioning drills for hockey. The first thing is to do an assessment to determine your starting point for training. If you don’t have access to a VO2 max test or a lactate threshold test you can still perform tests that will give an estimate of these. Just make sure to perform the same tests in the same order the next time you test. But make sure to test at least once more if not more. There’s no sense in performing a test if you never do a follow up test.

The second thing to consider when planing out your off-season conditioning workouts is your weak point(s). What area of your energy systems was the weakest? Another way of thinking about this is were you someone that fatigued near the end of games? Or were you someone that trouble winning battles, foot races and explosive one on ones? Or were you someone that could win the first battle but not the second or third in the same shift?

Once you know your starting point and your area of weakness you can begin to design a plan for energy system work. If your scores are all within normal standards, or comparable to your teammates, you can follow an approach of aerobic conditioining, followed by anerobic and lastly ATP-PC development. There are some interesting features of each of these energy systems.

The first feature is the extent that we can call on each of these energy systems. With the ATP-PC system we are usually dealing with efforts of less than 10 seconds. The anaerobic system can last up to 2 minutes and the aerobic system is the energy source for longer duration efforts. Again think back to what aspects of your were the weak points and you’ll have a better idea as to which energy systemwas deficient and needs attention.

The second feature of the various energy system is the intensity of effort associated with each. If our efforts are less than 10 seconds the efforts and intensity are going to be quite high. Imagine chasing down a loose puck for a breakaway. However if the efforts are longer than 10 seconds but less than 2minutes our efforts will still be intense such as during a regular 40 second shift. Lastly, if you are down a player due to injury and are stuck on the ice killing a major penalty there is a chance you may tap into your aerobic energy system.

The last feature regarding energy systems is that the shorter the interval, the longer the recovery. This usually sounds the opposite of what we think it should be. But think about it for a second. You could go out for a 20 minute skate to test out previously injured joint and within a minute of finishing be completely recovered. Compare this to having to drop the mitts with the guy who ran you’re teammate from behind. You’re throwing bombs, and taking a few as well, for 30-45 seconds. It can take a while in the penalty box to catch your breath. Lastly think of anytime you have to give 100% effort for upto 10 seconds. It can take quite a while to completely recover from that effort.

The key point here is to understand that there are various energy systems required to be successful in hockey. Knowing your starting point and your weaklink will help you improve the most. Set the sequence of your training to progress from conditioing to repeated bursts to explosive efforts. And recognize that as the drills get shorter you will need proportionally more time to recover from each effort.


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