Strength Training For Young Goalies & Skaters

I still get at least two emails per week asking a variation of the ‘what training should my 10 year old goalie do?’ Some of you even follow it up by saying, ‘I don’t want to stunt his/her growth, so I know strength training is bad’.

I am 90% sure I have written an article on this before, but even I cannot find it, so here is the Reader’s Digest version for you.

This is for players in the age range of 10-13 years – under that age, I really want them to just have fun. If they want more development try a gymnastics class or martial arts class – that will be helpful at developing their body dexterity.

It Is Supposed To Be Fun…

A child’s only motivation to play sport should be the pure love of the game – whether they love the competition, the challenge or the social element of being on a team, the ‘fun’ of it is all that matters.

Remember these are kids we are talking about not ‘future NHL’ers’. Time will tell if that is the case. Even if your kid is the best one in your entire league at 10 years old; do you know how many 10 year old Crosby’s I have seen who are not even playing the game anymore at 15?

If they are that good, they love the game and develop the dedication over time, they will find their way.

Because They WANT To…

Because your child really, really, really WANTS to train 4-hours per day for hockey, doesn’t mean they should. Are you familiar with the photo on the right?


Yes, that is me.

I wanted to wear that hat, pretty much every single day – summertime, to school, EVERYday when I was a kid and thankfully my Mom did not let me – – but she took a picture so she could embarrass me when I was older.

Kids want to do all sorts of things they shouldn’t – that is probably why there are parents.

Strength Training Will Not Stunt Growth…

So now that we have established that it should be fun, that parents are the boss and that I had some sweet fashion sense as a kid, let’s look at what kids can do; not what they must do.

You see, I was like many of your kids – I loved to exercise even as a kid. I went jogging with my Dad in our matching Adidas track suits (the polyester ones with the stirrup pants) and then I watched my Dad do his ‘Ed Allan’ inspired overhead reaches to toe touches with as much bouncing as possible (it was the 70’s) and it was a wonderful time.

I learned a lifelong love of exercise and how it feels good to move…and I got my Dad all to myself for an entire hour in the early morning hours before anyone else was up. Now that my Dad is gone, that time is the most important part of it all.

So kids can do strength training – you just need to follow the rules and not get carried away.

Strength training will NOT, I repeat NOT stunt anyone’s growth.

The problem occurs when kids try doing max lifts unsupervised and end up dropping the weight with sufficient force that they fracture a bone through the growth plate.

The exact same thing could happen playing hockey with an awkward trip into the boards.

Now, if your kid is like me when I was a kid, if there was a barbell (my neighbour Doug had one in his basement) you were going to be awfully tempted to put as much weight as you can on there and see who can be the first to lift it overhead.

So supervision is key, but lifting in itself will not stunt your growth.

Bodyweight Training And Bands Are A Great Option

I like bodyweight training for young players because (as long as they are using proper form) because it teaches them to control their body, to stabilize and exert force.

I think resistance bands are also a very good option because it takes away the ‘how many pounds can I lift?’ motivation. It still builds strength but it lets them focus on the technique while using an appropriate load – need a little more resistance? Just put a little more stretch on the band.

Plus, you can easily take them with you on vacation and put them in a corner in the basement when they are not in use.

What Exercises?

Push Ups – 8-15

Split Squat – 8-15 each leg

Resistance Band Row – 8-15

Front Plank, Side Plank – start at 30s – build to no more than 60s

Feet Elevated Breathing – start at 60s, build to 3-minutes

Stretching for Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Glutes, Adductors (groins) are all fine.

There are lots of others you can do as well, I am just giving you a starting point – I have put together a detailed step by step program for goalies and skaters alike – really I don’t train them differently until they are about 14 years of age.

How Often?

Two to three times per week is reasonable, but the kid must want to do it, you cannot be forcing them to do it. Long-term that will not work. If you can do it with them, even better! The workouts should only last 20-30 minutes, so it will be a nice chunk of quality time you can spend with your child other than driving to and from the rink.

So there you have it – that is my perspective based on my experience – take it for what it is worth. Hope it helps.


The Complete Off-Ice Training Program For 10-13 Year Old Goalies And Skaters.