It’s that time of year again as the NHL draft takes place and all hockey fans glue their eyes to the television to see who will be the stars of the future. There were plenty of surprises and transactions that made this year’s draft fun to talk about.  But there was one common theme I heard in the description of each draft prospect: they all could benefit from gaining muscle and strength.

As a sports performance coach, I may be more inclined to pay more attention to comments made about an athlete’s strength.  But why would the commentators on TV say almost every draft pick needs more strength?

It’s true that these prospects are young and still growing.  You can also be certain they come from hockey programs that include a regular training schedule.  The prospects are taught how to train as a regular part of their season.  They will benefit from the developed habit of regular strength training as they try to move to the next level of their career.

As their bodies grow and mature, these players will gain the muscle and strength they need as they begin to compete with the fully grown men of the NHL.  The same can be said of female hockey players as well.  Although there are subtle differences in the timing, young girls also need to learn how to train properly as they move up to higher levels of competition such as college hockey and beyond.  

Do you have to be an NHL prospect to benefit from regular strength training?  No!!! 

Recreational adult and youth hockey players can make significant advances in their performance with regular strength training.  As athletes, we are all competitive by nature and looking for an edge over our opponents.  Following a proper training program as directed by a performance professional such as a Certified Athletic Trainer or Strength and Conditioning Coach can aid any athlete in taking their gameplay to the next level.  Such programs will increase athleticism, assist in injury prevention, and lead to just feeling healthier.  Whether you are a professional, college, youth, or beer league player, getting stronger can help you play better and stay healthy.

Mike Hannegan is an Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach with ten years of experience in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.  He is 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 or through the website at