Hockey possess many different characteristics such as speed, agility, acceleration, strength, power, distance, flexibility, etc. If you look at just the fitness of a player, it boils down to:
- Speed and acceleration: If your not moving your going to be left behind the play. First to the puck, beating the defender, or back checking to stop a potential scoring threat all require the ability to catch an opponent.
- Recovery: You just made a great play. Now how long does it take for you to make another? Recovery is always overlooked but is the critical part of your physiology.
Why are these the two crucial elements? If you can’t get to the puck: you can’t shoot or pass or make a play. If your only good for the first 5 minutes of a game, your not going to see the ice enough to get better.
How do you improve?
Without understanding your exact physiology (checkout lactate testing hockey if you want precision), there are a couple simple ways to analyze your game. Here is one example:
Test 1 – Sprint: Line up two cones on the ice. One on the goal line and the other on the second blue line (away from you).
Equipment: Your going to need a timer, and a heart rate monitor.
Procedure:Start at the red line. When your ready, skate as hard as you can to the other pylon. Record your time and max heart rate.
Results: How long does it take you to get your heart rate back to 100 BPM? Record that time. Once it returns to 100, re-start the test.
Two things to look for: What was average skating time and what was your average recovery time?
Speed and Acceleration: Do your times decline or are you consistent? If your first and last time are over a second apart, you will probably need some work on your aerobic training (endurance training). If you are consistent, within 0.5 second, than you may need to work on your sprinting top end speed. This will require shorter distance but going harder or possibly some gym work.
Recovery: If you are over 3 minutes, your going to need some serious aerobic training (endurance training). If your recovered in 1-2 minutes, that is good. Less than a minute and you may not be going hard enough. If you see an increase in recovery (so it took you a minute and now is 3 minutes) you will probably require more aerobic work.
A typical hockey player takes over 25 shifts a game. This means you have to be prepared to go to that limit in practice.
Using a test like the one above is a effective way to see how your training is evolving and what you may require to get to the next level.