Conditioning is an important part of any sport and hockey is no different, if not more intense since you have to be able to skate (which requires a lot of skill) as well as be able to handle a stick, avoid getting checked, and maneuver around the rink for a great deal of time. Hockey conditioning for the beginning athlete may seem overwhelming, however if broken down and the basics are focused on it is rather simple and will have any new player picking it up in no time.
To begin in hockey conditioning lets first focus on skating, as you will spend an entire match on your feet. If you stink at skating it's going to be hard to have fun and it will be one long game. There are plenty of drills you can use (depending on the age of your players) however if you are looking for some that any age level can do to improve their hockey conditioning then go with these sure fire ones.
• Suicides – A simple drill that is used in various sports to improve both conditioning and ability to cut and move. It will have your players improving on their cardiovascular fitness as well as skating ability.
• Zig Zag – This drill is like suicides but instead of skating in straight lines players will skate the angles to develop hockey conditioning. All you need are some cones to set up in a Zig Zag pattern and have your players go. You can also have them skate the path with a stick and puck, but only once they have the hang of skating.
• Race & Stop – Here is a drill that will build your young athlete's competitive spirit as well as improve their skating and conditioning. Have a starting line and a stop zone, then line two kids up and tell them to go. Have them race to the stop zone and whoever gets there first, successfully stopping is the winner.
As your kids hockey conditioning starts to progress you can add in additional drills to continue development and build on puck handling, checking, blocking, and more. These drills will also build team work and can be integrated into actual practices. Here are some drills that will develop puck handling and are great for both beginners and intermediate players.
• Zig Zag – Same drill as above.
• 1 on 1 – This drill will have your players developing all sorts of skills: puck handling, how to get around an opponent, and hockey conditioning.
• Maze Drill – Set up a maze on the rink with cones and other obstacles. Have your players take their stick and try to navigate with a puck through the maze as fast as possible. Make sure to keep the times written down so the players can try to improve as time goes on.
Once your players are at a level you feel comfortable with then you can have them play scrimmage games such as 3 on 3 and 5 on 5. Not only will they give the kids a sense of how the game goes it will work them hard and build up their hockey conditioning to an acceptable game level. These are just a few things you can do to turn your players into machines. The more you are around the game and your team the more you will learn what it is that they are good at and what they need more work on.
Article Title: Ice Hockey Conditioning for the Beginning Athlete