Six Conditioning Moves for Hockey Players

Build strength, balance and agility like the pros with these conditioning moves for ice hockey players led by the Los Angeles Kings coaching team.

If you’ve ever strapped on a pair of skates and spent time on the ice, you know that skating requires a great deal of balance, precision and coordination. For hockey players, the demands of the sport also require a whole lot of lower and upper body strength, as well.

Matt Price, head strength and conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Kings, shared a few dynamic warm-up moves, as well as three lower and upper body conditioning moves for weekend hockey players to add to their off-the-ice gym routine. These moves are also great if you want to build strength, or fire up your hips and core before your next workout.

Dynamic warm-up

Skipping series

“An important part of the dynamic warm up is activating the central nervous system,” says Price. “We get the players to move through very specific patterns that replicate skating and get the hips and the core really fired up, and also the lower body.”

This series of skipping patterns get the body moving through good flexion extension and adduction, which is crucial for the action of crossing of legs on skates.

  1. Forward skip
  1. Backward skip with hip opener
  1. Lateral skips
  1. Cross-over skips

Supine hip series

“This is a great exercise for opening up the hips, stretching the glutes, stretching the hamstrings and getting a lot of blood flow around the hips, important muscles for skating,” says Price.

  1. Hug
  1. Ham
  1. Cradle

Half-kneeling two-way lunge

Open up the groin and hip flexors with this dynamic stretch.

Lower body strength training

Rear foot elevated split squat

“This is a really popular exercise with hockey players. It emphasizes single-leg strength, and moves the athletes through a large range of motion, so it really challenges their hip mobility,” says Price.

Perform 2-3 sets, 10 reps each set

Glute bridge

Perform the glute bridge first with both legs, then as a single-leg movement. “[This movement] works the hamstrings and the glutes to help with strong hip extension, which is important for striding the skate out,” says Price.

Double leg: Perform 10-12 reps for each set

Single leg: Perform 8 reps for each leg

Upper body strength training

Push-ups with taps

“We’re all familiar with push-ups, but we’ve put a bit of a spin on it that is really helpful for players’ shoulder stability, and really engages the trunk,” says Price.

Perform 16-20 reps

Photo and video credit: Courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings