One of the big mistakes that the most committed youth athletes make is training the same way in-season that they do in the off-season. No one training model is perfect. Start with the problem at hand and let that dictate the plan on how to solve the problem. Below is a very broad plan for off-season training which can be modified to fit the individual player’s needs.
In the early off-season there should be a large move away from on-ice work, and focus on restoring range of motion, building muscle (if the player needs it), and developing strength. As you move into the mid off-season: there is still a low volume of on-ice work and minimal emphasis on high intensity work. I suggest an increased focus on speed and power. Finally, during the late off-season: there is an increased emphasis on on-ice skill work and lactic conditioning. Decrease the emphasis on building muscle and strength with a continued focus on speed and power.
There are many of ways to break-up year-round training as it depends on the needs of the player. There should be clear shifts in focus throughout the year to maximize progress and minimize risk of over-training, excessive fatigue and soreness. Younger and lower caliber players will benefit more from more frequent workouts with a high variability of exercises. This is needed to improve athleticism and sports performance. Older athletes who play at a high-performance level can train less frequently with a higher intensity. This allows for the increased load of specific on-ice skill work that is done. Regardless of age or skill level, there needs to be recovery days built into your program. There is no reason to train for next season if you are burnt out before the season even begin.
Mike Hannegan is an Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach with ten years’ experience in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. He currently the Director of the Compete Sports Performance and Rehabilitation facility inside The Rinks Yorba Linda Ice located in beautiful Orange County, CA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org