Considerations to improve Ice Hockey performance
Ice hockey is a sport practiced globally, especially in the colder countries, like Canada, Finland and Sweden. The most important competition is the National Hockey League (NHL), starting in October and ending in April the NHL consists of 82 matches, therefore the athletic preparation has to be intense and well organised.
Hockey is considered the fastest team sport in the world. As a matter of fact athletes originally started to wear skates to glide at maximal speed over the ice. It was calculated that professional players can skate at speed up to 48 kilometers per hour. In addition the acknowledgment of energy expenditure during hockey matches is equally important, one-third being aerobic and two-thirds anaerobic. Furthermore, the prevalent abilities required by Hockey players are acceleration, sprint speed and change of direction. Central to the optimal performance of these movement patterns is the players’ ability to produce high levels of force and power. In light of these characteristics, the ideal hockey training should combine resistance workouts and sprint activities. Strength training can be efficaciously executed by free weight exercises in addition to the use of Technogym’s Skillmill to develop the explosive push movement during a sprint.
Nutrition and Psychological training
Nutrition and psychological training are also essential for optimal preparation. When considering basic nutrition, carbohydrates are essential prior to a workout providing a sufficient energy stores before, during and after all forms of activity. Additionally, protein consumption is essential following a training session for soft tissue recovery and growth and good hydration levels should be maintained. Lately, psychological training is considered very useful to ameliorate performances. One of the best forms of mental preparation is “Visualization”: it consists in imagining every possible game situation and picturing one’s self in each circumstance.
Finally, hockey is classified as a collision sport, so the risk of injury is quite high. For this reason, players have to put on an appropriate shielding equipment such as a protective bib, shin and elbow pads, gloves and a helmet to reduce the risk of damages during training or competition. Moreover, an adequate physical preparation can also help avoid severe injuries to bones or joints by a strengthened muscular structure.
- Matthews MJ, Comfort P, Crebin R. Complex training in ice hockey: the effects of a heavy resisted sprint on subsequent ice-hockey sprint performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Nov;24(11):2883-7.