Ultimate guide for hockey players and goalies
Do you ever wonder why some hockey players seem to score at will? How about those goalies who seem to stop every shot? Do you want to be one of those players? Sure you do!
Ice Hockey Players
We aspire to be the ultimate guide for all hockey players. We've got tons of practice drills for players, tips and tricks you can use both on and off the ice, off-ice drills for agility and speed, strength training exercises specific to hockey players and goalies...you name it! Have a look around, and make sure to set us as one of your bookmarks -- we're constantly updating and changing the site.
Ice Hockey Goalies
If you're a goalie, you're in luck! You're reading one of the very few web sites that has information for goalies as well as "out" players. I'm a goalie, so I know from experience it's easy to get left out of drills and finding goalie-specific exercises for off-ice training is difficult. Coaches don't usually know what to do with a goalie during practice, or have very limited knowledge of what will actually help a goalie's ability increase. If you're a goalie, or a coach, I'm sure you know what I mean. So, in addition to information for forwards, defense, and the entire team, we also have information specific to goalies.
There isn't any one definitive drill, exercise, tidbit, etc. that will instantly improve your hockey skills. If there was, there would probably be a lot more professional players! The key to improving your hockey abilities lies in your desire to play the game and work hard at improving your skills. Here is a list of the most important practices when training to be a better hockey player.
Top 11 Hockey "Secrets":
- learn what works - if a particular drill seems to help, do it more!
- learn from others - teammates and coaches can often be great teachers
- eat healthy, get good sleep
- think positive
- learn from your mistakes
- practice your drills (see hockey drills)
- proper stretching (see hockey skills)
- proper pre-game warmup (see hockey drills)
- play smart hockey (see hockey rules)
- use proper fitting equipment (Link Coming Soon!)
- improve your strength (see hockey strength training)
- improve response time (see hockey skills)
The most important thing to remember is that you need to practice a combination of all of the above -- one thing, by itself, is not going to help you. Combining the practices into your training guarantee you will be a better hockey player.
Play Better Hockey
Nutrition - Probably the single most important thing you can do for yourself is eat the right balance of nutritional foods. This is not to say you should be on a never ending diet, you don't have to be on a diet to watch what you eat. Eat a balanced variety of foods. You don't have to cut out all fat from your meals, a bit of fat is good for you, but don't overdo it. In Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook you are given guidelines to follow to be at your best using nutritional foods. It also includes 131 recipes for improved performance.
Flexibility - Every hockey player can improve their performance by improving their flexibility, and especially goalies! At the very least, you should do several warm-up stretches before and after a game to prevent injuries and sore muscles. Yoga is a perfect way to not only increase your flexibility, but also strengthen and tone your muscles, and it's a great way to relieve stress. Pick up The Complete Guide to Joseph H. Pilates' Technique of Physical Conditioning for a guide to obtaining and maintaining flexibility, strength, and toned muscles.
Strength - Increasing your strength will allow your muscles to be more explosive on the ice, you'll skate faster, move across the net quicker, and play better defensively since you'll be able to muscle your way out of, and into, situations. Complete Conditioning for Ice Hockey is a wonderful resource!
Agility - Some players seem to zip all over the ice without any effort, almost looking graceful as they flow in and out of other players before taking a shot. Becoming more agile will help you be that player! You can move your feet faster, balance better (fall less), and stickhandle easier. Of course, it goes without saying that a goalie needs to be extremely agile -- how else would they pop up and down repeatedly for save after save? I bought Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness and after just a few weeks of some of the agility exercises in the book, I felt like Spider-Man in the net. Needless to say, I highly recommend it!
Mental game - It's very important to be on top of your game mentally as well as physically. Being mentally prepared for a game, and mentally prepared to deal with pressures during a game, will ensure that you're focused on the task at hand and able to perform better. There isn't one specific method for everyone that will prepare you mentally for a game, each person is different, you need to find what's best for you. One thing that I've found that really works for me is visualizing. I close my eyes and spend some time (usually about 5 minutes, more if time allows) before a game visualizing what the game will be like. Since I'm a goalie, I visualize different scenarios possible, different types of shots, and I see myself making the save to stop those shots. I usually play better when I make the time to do this, and I think it's because I'm mentally prepared for many different situations, I'm ready for it already, so when it happens it's almost like I'm expecting it!
Other Sports - During the off-season, mix in another sport into your schedule. Participating in another sport or activity at least three times a week, along with maintaining your flexibility and strength, will help preserve your condition when the new season arrives and "real" training begins. Athletes who participate in more than one sport are typically better in their "specialty" sport than those who exclusively train in one sport.