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The Value of Combining Off-Ice & On-Ice Summer Training

06/03/2014, 6:30am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

How will you get the most out of your training this summer?


Sweat drips from your forehead as you hunch over, searching for breath. Your muscles ache, your lungs burn and your feet are sore.

And it feels right.

Now ask yourself, whatever it is you're picturing in your head right now...

Are you on the ice or in the gym?

This is the first post in the 4-part Bantam & Midget Hockey Player's Guide to Summer Training.

The Foundation of Preparation

Preparing for tryouts starts two weeks after the playoffs end for most bantam and midget hockey players. Training throughout the summer should be tailored based on three elements:

  1. Body composition
  2. Priorities
  3. Goals

Training with on-ice and off-ice sessions combines these three elements in order to maximize summer training. 

For example, say a larger player wants to improve his speed and agility on the ice this summer, but he's also playing soccer.

Are all three of the elements above covered?

Sure they are. In this case, both the player's on-ice coaches and off-ice instructors will be able to craft a program that's suitable.

Here's 3 more benefits of combining off-ice and on-ice workouts.

1. Focus: On-Ice 

As coaches and instructors, we're sometimes guilty of wanting priority over other sports and other training programs.

Which sounds a little like:

"That practice was brutal. Nash Dabb couldn't skate at all. What a waste."

It's surprising how often this opinion pops up during the summer training months. On-ice instructors need to understand that these days athletes have a lot more going on in the summer than just skating.

"Nash Dabb is awesome. He came straight from leg-day to practice, and he still worked his butt off."

Nash Dabb is a NSWC alumni playing for the North West Giants. When Nash does dryland training before a summer skate, he alters his approach.

"If I have on-ice training after off-ice, I just conserve my energy during my workout but I still work hard enough to get a good sweat going. Then for on-ice I focus more on the drill and the execution of the skills rather than going all-out."

- Nash Dabb, NSWC alumni

On-ice coaches need to recognize when their players are tired while also understanding the goals of skating during the summer:

  • developing individual skill
  • maintaining timing
  • conditioning

When the instructor is aware of what's happening in the gym, practices can be tailored so these 3 priorities are maximized.

So, if a player like Nash or Alex Uryga squatted the equivalent of my old '93 Mercury Topaz a half hour before practice, chances are it's time for some stationary stickhandling drills.

2. Focus: Off-Ice

One crucial ability of elite dryland instructors is their understanding of energy output. These types of instructors develop bantam and midget hockey players at a pace that's optimal for them, the individual, rather than an average of their age group.

So, in the same vein as the on-ice instructors, off-ice instructors tailor their program based not so much on what the athlete is doing on the ice, but the time in which they're doing it. Workouts are scaled so the player peaks at the right time (just before tryouts or training camps begin).

Note: Is the aspect of scaling training as important for atom and peewee players? No. However, today's atom and peewee players are tomorrow's bantam and midget players, and it's never too early to develop proper habits.

3. Scheduling

Show me a bantam or midget level hockey player, and I’ll show you a teenager who places a high priority on doing nothing this summer.

Not only does combining on-ice and off-ice workouts maximize the body’s energy output and the player’s level of focus, it’s just simply easier.

Want to get your teenager out of the house for 4 straight hours this summer? And when they come home they’re exhausted and ready for bed?

After they eat, of course.


Kelvin Cech & Clint Thornton are coaching the Intense Offense & Defense Camp this summer.

  • 90 minutes on-ice
  • 60 minutes ISIS dryland

Register here for High Performance Offence -> 

Register for High Performance Defence ->

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

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Tag(s): Home  Hockey  Minor Hockey