The Five Definitive Exercises Every Goalie Off Ice Training Program Must Include.

I will get to the five (actually there are six) exercises that should be in every goalie off ice training program in a minute.  This article (a rather long one actually) is a response to a question I got here on the blog from someone asking for a few exercises that an older goalie starting out should work on to reduce the risk of injury.  As you know I think the number one role of a specific training program is to reduce the risk of injury and then improve performance, so the long winded article below is the result of me pondering that question for the last two weeks or so.

I am going to create a video showing you how to do the exercises, I intended to do it this morning, but over the weekend I came down with the dreaded autumn head/chest cold.  The worst part about it was that it was supposed to be crappy and rainy all weekend which makes staying in bed all day not so bad – listening to the pitter – patter of rain outside and all.  But then what happens – the weather was actually beautiful!  Yes I am sour.  Add in the new nose piercing and the fact that I cannot really blow my nose and – well – let’s just leave it at that…I will post the video later this week.

The Five Exercises Every Goalie Off Ice Training Program Must Include.

Before I tell you what the five definitive exercises ever goalie off ice training program must include, I want you to think about what you feel when you pull into the parking lot before a game.

Picture the headlights flashing across the walls of the rec center as you turn into the driveway.  You park the car, get your hockey bag out of the back and start walking toward the front door.  What do you feel – if you are like most goalies, you feel nervous butterflies stirring in your gut.

You are trying to be positive, but you cannot help but let some of those ‘what if’s…’ creep into your thoughts. You know the ones – take your pick:

  • What if I let in that early goal?
  • What if my defense lets me down again?
  • What if the other team is full of slap shot monsters who shell me repeatedly.
  • What if we lose this game and miss the play-offs
  • What if I play like crap and the coach pulls me – I might not get another chance this season, the back up has been playing really well in practice lately.

You can add to this list I am sure.  So why do you do it?  This is what I asked Steve, one of my subscribers who was so disheartened that he was ready to quit.  Like you, Steve had a passion not only for hockey, but for playing goal.  He knew his teammates did not really ‘get’ him – like most of you he was regarded as a little weird, but when he was winning everything was great. His team could live with weird when Steve was standing on his head and stealing games.

When things are going well – everyone is happy, but it is when things were not going well that made Steve think of quitting or at least giving up on his goal of being the best puckstopper he could possibly be.  Every time he saw that right winger slam his stick on the ice after letting in a goal even he knew he should have stopped, Steve lost some of his passion.  This was not fun for him.

Steve admitted that he knew a good goalie off ice training program would make a difference to his on-ice performance but he already had a plate full of commitments outside of hockey so spending 6-8 more hours per week on his training was not an option for him at this time.

Three Types of Goalie Training Programs

In my experience there are three types of goalies  (Steve fit into the first category):

1.  Those who do something.

These players go to the local gym (or used to go to the local gym) to do their goalie off ice training, where they follow the herd.  They do their circuit of the machines, they even suck it up and get on the ‘groin’ machine that is usually reserved for the ladies trying to ‘tone’ their thighs.

After their weight circuit of leg press, seated knee extensions, lying hamstring curls, the groin machine, chest press, seated row and preacher biceps curls they go for their 40-minute steady state bike ride.

I love asking these netminders if their off-ice goalie training is fun.  I have never found anyone who says they enjoy it, but they do it because they want to be better.

So after 80-minutes these goalies stagger out of the gym feeling bored, their muscles feel bored.  You feel slightly disheartened because even though you think you’re training for hockey (you actually are not) you know there will not be much to show for it on the ice.  You are disheartened, but you keep it up because you don’t want to lose what you have ‘built’ over the years.

I want you to ask yourself – does any of this supposed goalie off ice training resemble anything you actually need to do on the ice?

2. Those who do too much of the wrong thing.

We have all seen a workout program on late night TV.  The actors look great – their muscles are so ripped – we want that!  I want it too!  Some of you actually go for it and go for it full out!

You love it because the workouts are killer brutal and your muscles scream from start to finish.  Your Plyo workout has you doing repeated jumps for 40 seconds in a row followed by …more jumps for 40 seconds.  By the end of the workout your feet are not even getting off the ground – but you love the tired feeling you have at the end and you do find that your stamina has improved even though your lower back now aches.

goalie off ice training must include the squat lateralLet me ask you a question – if I gave you a marathon training program for your goalie off ice training program would you think I am a genius?  Would you do that program?  If you loved to run you might do that program, but I think we can all agree that it is not the best way to improve your performance on the ice.

Are you going to see some improvements?  Probably your stamina will improve and you might lose some body fat, but again it will never be the best use of your time.  So before you email me to tell me how much you love your infomercial workout program – STOP – I am happy if you are happy, I am just saying it is not the most efficient way off to become a better, more injury resistant goalie.

3. Those who do nothing…

These goalies are either lazy, lost or leery.  The lazy ones, just don’t care enough about being better.  The lost ones have no clue what to do or where to start so they do nothing.  The leery ones have tried working out before but found that they actually got more injuries.  Instead of thinking that perhaps they were not following a program that was suited to them, they quit altogether.

You rationalize you inaction by saying – ‘hey, I’m not training for the NHL’ or maybe you think you are as good as you will ever be;you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t believe that you can be twice as good as you currently are.

What would you do if you were trying to book a vacation to a nice warm beach somewhere?  You would gather information, think about what you want to do on your holiday and then take the steps to make that vacation a reality.  You would:

  • Find a flight that fit your schedule and budget
  • Find a hotel that offered the activities you were interested in
  • You would book the time out of your schedule
  • And finally, you would enjoy the fruits of your planning and preparation when you have an amazing holiday.

Goalie off ice training is the same, you just need to follow a system of steps to success.  Do you think you would have ever become a better skater if you never practiced or worked on your technique? Probably not.

Do you believe you could become a more flexible, stable, strong goalie with more speed and stamina if you spend some time practicing those things?

Do you believe that if you take a laser focus on the areas that need the most improvement you could become a better player even if you only spend 20-minutes or less on your off-ice goalie training?  Darn right!

The 2 Step Goalie Off Ice Training Solution

Step 1.  Think about what you need to do to be successful on the ice.  What does that include?

  • Lateral power
  • The ability to make quick powerful movements followed by relative rest on a repeated basis for an entire 60 minutes (or more)
  • Pliable, yet strong groin muscles so you can get into the positions you need with control – like anti-lock brakes on your car.
  • The flexibility in your hips to have a nice wide butterfly flare without putting undue strain on your knees
  • The core stability to maintain your ready position without your aching back creeping into your conscious mind – taking your focus off the game – even though you are trying to concentrate.

Step 2.  Train for those things.

  • Banish machine based training from your workouts forever – no more seated leg press, seated groin machines, seated knee extensions, lying hamstring curls – no not even your beloved preacher curls!
  • As soon as you can get rid of the steady state cardio training – does riding a bike resemble anything that you do on the ice?  Are you training for a marathon – then go do your long runs?
  • Still only static stretching your groins in pursuit of the mythical splits?  Self myofascial release?
  • If you are not stretching your hips into internal rotation – you are not going to get a wider butterfly flare
  • Crunches are not core stability training, again – does this resemble anything you do on the ice?

The 5 Exercises Every Goalie Off Ice Training Program Must Include

  1. Foam roll – 5 minutes
  2. Prone Hip Internal Rotation – 1 minute
  3. Supine Hip Internal Rotation – 1 minute
  4. DB Squat Lateral – 1 minute
  5. High Intensity Interval Training – 15s on: 45s off x 10 – 10 minutes
  6. BONUS: Resisted Crease Pushes – 1 minute

Total time: 19-Minutes you can even divide the High Intensity Interval Training from the other exercises so you have only 10-minutes or less of work to do every other day.

Does that sound like a reasonable price to pay for:

  • Instead of those butterflies of fear when you pull into the parking lot, you get butterflies of excitement.
  • You step on the ice knowing that you are prepared to play your best and it shows in your save percentage.
  • You stop worrying about tweaking your groin every time you do a kick save.
  • You have to become more patient in the crease because your lateral speed lets you get to where you need to be with one strong leg drive?
  • Your teammates love their weird goalie – you!

Goalie off ice training can be a complex or as simple as you want to make it.  Today I gave you the most basic approach possible, but try these goalie off ice training exercises and amaze yourself at the boost in performance you will see from just this small investment of time and effort.