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Archaic ice hockey warm-ups

While the sport of hockey has come a long way in the past 20 years with new equipment technologies, training procedures, coaching, recovery methods, and attention to small details, I find it fascinating that, of our rich traditions, we still choose to maintain a few. hockey parts in the right place. the same … when it really should change.

Take, for example, the hockey warm-up. Compared to other sports, we are in the dark ages. While other sports apply science and common sense to prepare for a physical event, we in the hockey community laugh in their faces, skate anyway, sit and listen to a coaches lecture and then stand like statues before of the game being played. If this fitness strategy were used in other sports like sprinting, sledding, or skiing (to name a few sports), many athletes would end up with injuries. Maybe it’s time for hockey to learn from others and adopt a better system.

The current system

Let me first dissect a typical hockey warm-up so that I can then share my views on the flaws in the current system.

1. Typically, if the team has someone on staff with a pinch of physical education training, then a dryland warm-up will be the first order of business. Now this is not always the case. I have witnessed top-level hockey teams compete on a regular basis without a warm-up in the drylands. Typically, teams send athletes out for a sprint or put players on a stationary bike followed by some static stretches. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume this takes 30 minutes (although most teams spend 10-15 minutes in the warm-up and consider that to be good enough).

2. In some cases, coaches want to spend about 10 minutes talking about a basic plan for the next game. Maybe the slate breaks and they talk about escapes, death by penalty, the pre-check for that night, or other basic strategies. Some coaches do not do this at this time, so this may depend on your team.

3. The next order of business is to set up your equipment (generally 30 minutes is allotted).

4. At this point, the players come out on the ice for the traditional 15-minute warm-up. The first 5 minutes are spent skating in circles (usually counterclockwise), followed by 5 to 8 minutes of 2-on-1, 3-on-2 exercises to get the players’ feet moving and developing a sensation for the album. The last 2 to 5 minutes are spent shooting the goalie, stretching on the ice, a few short sprints from one side of the ice to the other.

5. After the ice warm-up, the players return to the locker room (for 15 minutes while the ice is flooded) and sit while the coach presents the pregame speech and strategy session.

6. After the flood, the players return to the ice and stand to play the national anthem (or hymns). Immediately after this, the players return to the bench and the game begins shortly after.

Defects of the current system

1. The first flaw in the system is that coaches tend to talk about strategy and systems too late in the warm-up when athletes are supposed to warm up. Having the team sit down to listen to a 15-minute speech just before the game is ridiculous. This should be the first order of business when athletes hit the track. Spend as much time as you want to go over this … but do it at the beginning, not the end, when athletes should be concentrating on warming up for the game!

2. The next area of ​​concern is heating without ice. For starters, not all teams warm up without ice, and those that do are often wrong. A running or stationary bike will NOT adequately prepare you for hockey. The muscles of the hip, midsection, and shoulder girdle must be actively warmed to stimulate blood flow and help prevent injury. This is accomplished with a dynamic warm-up (with movements like fire hydrants, wide mountain climbers, turns to V stretches, back stretch lunges, scorpions, and other movements to increase core temperature and stimulate blood flow to muscles) . After this dynamic warm-up, the team should move on to light conditioning movements (such as burpees, lateral lunges, windmills, swings, and push-ups) to begin to sweat and get the body used to physical activity. in motion, a sport based on agility. The use of light plyometrics, ladder drills and, for goalies, the hacky-sack will do wonders to warm up the hockey. At the end of the warm-up in the drylands, a slight range-of-motion stretch should be done just to keep everything loose. The full warm-up should take 20 minutes as long as you don’t waste time and get to work.

3. After the dryland warm-up, players should put on their gear, but this should not take 30 minutes. In that amount of time, athletes will cool down and tense up, so essentially the dryland warm-up was for naught. Coaches should limit dressing time to 20 minutes and ensure players arrive on the track early enough to sharpen skates, inspect equipment, duct tape, and do all other necessary preparations well before putting on equipment. When I check with the teams and see the coach (or assistant) sharpening skates just before warm-up, it’s my first sign of a misdirected team.

4. After the players have put on their gear, it sure wouldn’t hurt to get everyone moving again with some push-ups, squats, kettlebell swings (if possible), or similar bodyweight exercises. Make sure players have skating guards to keep blades sharp, but why shouldn’t players do a little pre-ice warm-up with gear on?

4. When the players go out on the ice, I think the national anthems should be played at that time. My reasoning for this is that after warm-up you have an additional 2 minutes to sing (2 more if you play another country’s anthem), plus all the time it takes to line up and then go back to the benches before the game. . This can easily take 8-10 minutes for a professional game. If a player has been sitting in the locker room before the game (17 minutes), then goes out onto the ice to listen to the hymns (another 8-10 minutes), it could take 25-30 minutes before they start moving. Let’s hear the anthem before warm-up so players can focus on playing hockey right after warm-up.

5. During warm-up on ice, this is not the time to skate like an idiot. Skate 5 laps around your end of the ice to relax a bit and then start with movement exercises that focus on moving your feet. From this point, coaches can perform 2v1 or 3v2 exercises for 5 minutes. While this is going on, goalkeepers should have an established routine with one or two players taking shots or helping them warm up (players can rotate in and out of this so they get a good warm up as well). At the end of the 15 minutes, players should do movement exercises (such as inside edges, outside edges, turns, back to front, etc.) along with some battle drills with light sticks or shadow sticks so that the feet are move. Note that I have not mentioned stretching during warm-up on ice as many players seem to do … this is because it is a waste of time at this point (it should already be loose), and the ice really is not. ‘ ‘. It is the best place to stretch your muscles and warm them up!

6. Right after the warm-up is over, I think the game should begin. This is seen in dwarf hockey during tournaments where the rink tries to make the most of the time allowed. I don’t see a need for a flood after warm-up as the ice doesn’t break much and it causes players to jump straight into the game when they are hot. Leagues would see a drastic reduction in first-period injuries if they adopted this method of play, and fans would see players able to compete from the start of the game without the slow first-period blues that plagues many games.


Now I have no reason to suspect that the current warm-up system for hockey that has been around for decades will ever change, as hockey has a rich culture and many people in the industry resist change. I’m personally looking forward to the day of change … but I’m not holding my breath.

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