Back in the game

Improve your hockey skills with plyometrics

By Terri Windover, Connect Columnist

Fort McMurray resident Kevin Boudreau with his opponent at the CARHA World Cup in Windsor earlier this year. Photo by Terri Windover, Connect Weekly

Fort McMurray resident Kevin Boudreau with his opponent at the CARHA World Cup in Windsor earlier this year. Photo by Terri Windover, Connect Weekly

It’s hockey season!

A time when any Canadian worth their salt dusts off their favourite jersey and brushes up on their repertoire of semi joking insults about the other guys or gals team.

If you want to amuse yourself this season drop by my house on a night that my Leafs play Kevins’ Habs.

Sometimes we have to sit at opposite ends of the couch, so one of us doesn’t “accidently” get a black eye. And I’m quick like a ninja, so it won’t be me.

During my almost three decades as a personal trainer, I have worked with many teams from a variety of sports, from hockey and soccer to football and competitive skaters and swimmers.

Because of this, I am always looking for ways to improve the specific skills needed for my clients to excel at the sport of their choosing.

One of the best ways to build explosive speed for hockey is to add plyometric exercises to your training program. But there’s a catch, you can’t just perform any old plyo routine and expect it to yield maximum results. You need to train smart, not just hard.

You need to remember that hockey is unique among sports. Hockey players spend the majority of their time explosively pushing off one leg at a time, unlike basketball players that usually jump off two feet.

So, the best plyos for hockey involve single-leg jumps and exercises. In addition, hockey players push off sideways when they skate. This requires very strong and flexible lateral muscles. Muscles which are not nearly as active in most other sports.

I’ve put together a few of my favourite movements for hockey players and competitive skaters. Pick two or three of the following exercises and perform them one or two times per week to increase your skating speed and explosive power. For more fitness and nutrition information, visit www.terri-windover.com

Scissor Jumps
• Start in lunge position with back knee on ground
• Extend front leg to explode out of lunge
• Switch legs in air and land in lunge with opposite knee forward
• Repeat for specified reps
• Perform set with opposite leg in front
Sets/Reps: 3×5 each leg (Progress to 3×10)

Single-Leg Jumps
• Assume athletic position standing on one foot
• Lower into quarter squat
• Extend hip and knee and jump as high as possible
• Land with soft knee and repeat
• Perform set with opposite leg
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each leg

Side-to-Side Bounds
• Start in athletic position standing on right foot
• Explode 45 degrees to left and land softly on left foot with right foot in air
• Repeat to right
• Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3×10

Lateral Box Jumps
• Assume athletic stance with plyo box to side
• Jump up to side and land softly on box
• Step down from box
• Repeat for specified reps
• Perform set in opposite direction
Sets/Reps: 2-3×5 each direction

Single-Leg Box Jumps
• Start in athletic position standing on one foot with box in front
• Jump and land softly on box on one foot
• Hop down from box
• Repeat for specified reps
• Perform set with opposite leg
Sets/Reps: 2-3×5

– Connect Weekly –