Do you or someone close to you play hockey? If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that the answer to that question is yes. It’s a great choice for a sport. It can help build character, teamwork skills, and is also a great and fun way to keep in shape. If you want to be good at this game, like with most things in life, you’re going to need practice. With that in mind, hockey training is incredibly important to ensure that you’re playing the game to the best of your ability.
Keeping on top of your game is important no matter your skill level, but it can be hard to convince some people with natural skills of that. Many people feel that their skills are good enough to get them through games while ensuring their victory, so why would they need to make sure to train? This is an easy misconception to have, especially if you or someone you know is already good at the game. The fact that every single professional hockey player still trains constantly should be evidence enough that this is important, but let’s take a look at a few reasons why it’s important
1. Increase Your Endurance
If you’ve been on the ice for a full game, you’re probably aware of just how draining this game can be. Skating around the rink and trying to keep your opponents from getting the puck is a challenge. Most hockey players have to use sprinting levels of energy for the majority of the game, and that kind of effort can drain someone pretty quickly. Even people that are in shape can be wiped out pretty quickly by such a high consistent output of energy. With that in mind, you need to train your endurance so you can keep up with the pace of the game.
The last thing that you want in the middle of a game is to be completely winded and unable to continue the game because you’re simply out of energy. You can train your endurance by doing things like wind sprints. Increasing how much you’re able to do before you’re worn out will ensure that you don’t have to be taken off of the ice prematurely. Even if you’re someone who’s been able to keep your energy up for the full game for every game so far, what happens when you meet a team that poses a greater challenge than you’ve faced before? If you aren’t doing your hockey training regimen then there’s a good chance that you’ll be worn out a lot more quickly than you expect.
2. Master the Basics
Oh, the basics. Many people prefer to brush past them so they can get to more advanced techniques, but the basics are actually the fundamental building blocks of any skill. Hockey is no exclusion to this. Even the most advanced techniques are built up from the most basic skills. The better you are at the basics, the better you’ll be able to be at the more advanced techniques and tactics that the game has to offer. This is incredibly important if you hope to remain competitive, even against teams that are just as skilled if not more skilled than your own.
If you’ve ever seen the hit 1984 martial arts drama film “The Karate Kid” you’re probably familiar with Mr. Miyagi making Daniel clean his house as a way to sneak in the training of the basics without having to teach Daniel any hard fighting skills. Of course, that’s a movie so in real life, you’d need to actually learn the basics to practice them. That being said, the closer to muscle memory the basics are for you, the more physical and mental energy you can put into the more advanced techniques. That can give you the edge that you need to win some of those tougher games.
3. Become Stronger
Ah yes, strength. One of the most important attributes of any good hockey player and the favorite to train of most hockey players. Being strong on the ice makes you a much bigger threat to the opposing team. Whether that manifests in being able to hit the puck farther, just being able to keep possession of the puck as well as your balance after being checked, or having an easier time keeping the pucks out of your goal, being strong is incredibly important for this sport. Without strength training, you could find yourself in a variety of sticky situations that could be pretty hard to escape from.
The most important point is that your opposition is definitely doing their strength training. This is doubly true if your team is a threat to their teams. Every single hockey team in the world is looking to bring home another victory, and it’s not a secret that one of the best ways to do so is to be stronger than the other team. By making sure that you keep up on your strength training, you can be sure that you’re at least keeping up with the other teams if not surpassing them.
4. Increase Your Speed
Hockey is a game of wits, muscles, and speed. Ignore any of the three on any team and they’re likely to be overwhelmed by their opponents. Speed is some serious business in the sport of hockey, and it’s definitely not something that should be overlooked. If you can get the puck across the rink even a fraction of a second faster than your opponent, that can change the tide of the entire game. Even the speed of your reaction time makes a huge difference. If you can assess your surroundings and act quickly, you could feasibly steal the puck from the other team and score your point.
Without the proper speed training, you could find yourself on the wrong side of these hypotheticals. Of course, some people have great natural talent, but natural talent won’t be able to save you from every opponent. There are plenty of players out there that don’t have natural skills that have had to work for every ounce of talent that they have that would be more than happy to leave the naturally talented in their dust if they were given the opportunity. Don’t get left in someone’s dust, make sure that you train your speed and reaction times just as much as you train your strength.
5. Improve Your Reaction Time
This is something that we covered a bit in the last section, but it’s important enough to warrant its own section. Let’s say that the puck was just dropped onto the ice. You and your opponent are squared up and ready to take possession of the puck as quickly as possible. The puck hits the ice and both of you watch it happen and hear the satisfying sound that it makes upon impact. Which one of you do you want to have the puck? Of course, the answer is probably you. Even if the answer isn’t you, your reaction time is important. Let us explain.
To be able to see the puck and get it before your opponent does, you’ll need to have better reaction time. That’s pretty clear. But what if the plan is to give your opponent the puck? Well, in order to control the tempo of the game with tactics like that, you still have to be able to react fast enough to get possession of the puck when it becomes time for that. No matter what the plan is, your reaction time is going to make a world of difference for the outcome.
6. Sharpen Your Skills Even More
If you’re naturally talented and have been reading this article while scoffing, this section is specifically for you. Even if you were born to be the next Wayne Gretzky and have the aptitude to prove it, you’ll still need to train more to reach your full potential. In a way, training is like sharping a blade. Of course, it can do great things without it being sharpened and could even come right off of the forge ready to go, but sharpening it only makes things better.
That’s the whole thing about training. Training will only improve your skills. If you’re gifted and can play like the best, you still have room for improvement. No matter how good you are there’s always someone better, stronger, faster, and smarter than you. Bruce Lee even knew this and he’s considered to be one of the toughest people of all time.
Get Your Head in the Game
Whether you’re a professional hockey player with several Stanley Cups under your belt or you’re new to the game and just learning how to hit the puck in your ice skates, you need to train to make sure that you’re getting the most skill that you’re capable of achieving. Training can be fun and challenging if done correctly, and the reward is being a bigger threat on the ice, sometimes even more so than you ever thought possible.