Elite Hockey

Matt WillowsElite athletics are evolving, becoming more competitive than ever.  As a result, so must the training programs.

At RPP, every hockey player comes to us looking to improve different parts of their game. Some are hoping to improve their speed, some are looking to improve their endurance or improve their start/stop explosiveness, some are coming off of an injury, and some simply want to improve their ability to cover more of the ice. The reality is that no two players are alike.

Strength and conditioning for hockey players is very different from many other sports. The enormous amount of stress placed on hockey players’ hips along with playing on an unstable surface makes them extremely vulnerable to hip and groin injuries. It’s been documented that 70% of hockey players have abnormal hip and pelvic MRIs. This doesn’t mean that they are in pain but it does mean that special care needs to go into the types of program design that can help them excel at their sport.

Furthermore, in the speed department, top-end speed is not as important as short distance quickness due to the nature of the sport.  Old fashioned speed and agility drills such as ladders and track and field drills don’t carry over well to hockey due to the fact that there is very little upper body movement while the feet are moving quickly. Lastly, skaters almost never skate in a straight line, therefore transitional speed, changes in speed and direction which mimic on ice movements are king.

Collin MacDonaldOff-season is the period when hockey players, need to concentrate on increasing their physicality. This may be in the form of gaining size and strength, or increasing muscle mass while losing unwanted body weight. The time invested during this period can have significant impact on a player’s ability, performance and risk of injury once the season begins.  A proper strength and conditioning program should help every aspect of a hockey player’s game including strength, speed, agility, mobility and overall conditioning and body composition.  For many hockey players the off-season begins immediately after the season ends and runs through end of October. This provides a long timeline to substantially increase one’s overall strength and conditioning by taking part in a complete top to bottom program. Generally speaking, hockey players that take part in a complete off-season program can start and end the season with the same degree of on-ice confidence and performance.

Below is a summary timeline and our programming focus from March through October:

Early Off-Season:

  • March – April: 3x 10-12 reps (hypertrophy-regeneration) – Minimal sprint work
  • April – May: 3x 5-6 reps (absolute strength) – Minor multi-directional sprint work

Mid Off-Season:

  • June – July: 3x 5-8 reps (absolute strength) – Start to introduce lateral and rotational movement

Late Off-Season:

  • July – August: 3x 8 reps (strength-hypertrophy) – Movements become more hockey specific and multi-directional sprint work is ramped up


  • September: Sets are timed (strength-speed) – Loaded circuits (timed), very hockey specific movements
  • October: B.W. circuits and conditioning (speed-strength) – Half loaded circuit, half body weight circuit, mostly lateral movement

In creating the correct protocol there is no better place to start than with a thorough movement and performance assessment which is then followed by an individualized program based on the assessment results and the athlete’s specific goals.

We recommend that every athlete gets a movement assessment (click here for more info on this topic) prior to starting a personal training program. No matter what the sport, and hockey is no different, exposing abnormal postural, and movement patterns during an assessment and building a roadmap to help correct them through an individualized strength training program is the first step in safely getting bigger, faster and stronger.

Elite Hockey - Left Side 3Programming:
Our protocol is highly controlled and managed. We constantly re-evaluate its volume/intensity from week-to-week depending on an athlete’s near and long term objectives as well as where they are in their season. Our programming differentiates between goalies and linemen/defensemen (“Skaters”) with each following different programs for their training.  Please click here for our Skaters Program and here for our Goalie Program or simply refer below for a brief summary of each.

A complete program for hockey players should include hip stability and mobility as well as power exercises in all ranges of motion.  A thorough, well coached program can help produce significant results in regards to a hockey player’s mobility, stability and overall power as well as body composition and creating symmetry in the hips, pelvis and core.

Below is a summary of our Program Highlights:

  • Initial Performance Testing and Movement Assessment
  • Flexibility – Foam rolling, active and dynamic warm-ups
  • Speed and Agility – Acceleration, deceleration both linear and lateral
  • Explosive Power – Plyometrics and medicine ball techniques for explosive “first-step” movement
  • Shot Strength – Rotational core strength, hip mobility, upper body strength
  • Goalie Specific Training – Glute strength, hip and knee stability/mobility, hand/eye coordination
  • Explosive Power – Plyometrics and medicine ball work for explosive starting and stopping technique
  • Conditioning – Energy system work specific to the sport helps get athletes endurance ready for the season
  • Injury Reduction – Programs focus on improving the way athletes move
  • Nutrition – Each athlete receives a nutrition plan to suit their individual needs

World Class Coaching:
Making sure that all exercises are performed with great form is paramount in producing results as well as reducing the risk of injury. All of our coaches have 4-year degrees in exercise science and are certified strength and conditioning coaches (CSCS).

Skaters and Goalie Programs:
The RPP Skaters (click here) and Goalie (click here) Programs are complete top to bottom off-season protocols for ages 13+ (please click here for college or pro level).  They comprise of 7-8 week training programs, meeting 2x per week in each eight week cycle.  The programs begin in March and end in October just before the start of the new high school season.

RPP Hockey Blogs:
Please feel free to review our blogs on training hockey players by clicking here.  They include topics on power, strength, speed, hip strength and health among others.