Top 5 Hockey Training Aids: Turn your basement into a hockey training centre.

Hockey Training AidsSometimes I have to laugh.  I was talking to a colleague in my hometown who was telling me about a new hockey training centre that opened in the area.  He was really excited about it because it cost ‘about a million dollars’ to put together.  Now don’t get me wrong, I used to work in one of those big fancy sport conditioning franchises.  It was a beautiful facility and a nice place to workout, however there was nothing magical about it that instantly produced great hockey players.  There is no hockey training aid that can take your game to the next level until you are ready to work and committed to a well-designed training program. 

I think it helps to work with a qualified strength and conditioning coach twice per week to help keep you on track, teach you perfect technique and progress your program.  If you do not have the resources to train with a qualified professional twice per week, then maybe you should see if you can get one session per week or even just four or five sessions with a coach to learn some technique and then set up a little hockey training centre in your basement.

Choosing the right hockey training aid is much like a carpenter choosing the right tool for a job.  A carpenter must first have a very clear idea of what he is trying to accomplish, then he should consider what tool will help him complete that task in the safest and most efficient manner and finally, the carpenter must know how to use the tool properly or the results could be disastrous.

So before you put any money into gimmicks, toys or other hockey training aids, make sure you:

  • Know what you are trying to train
  • Educate yourself about the safe and effective options
  • Make sure you know how to use your new toy properly.

 Finally, there is no training aid that will make you a better hockey player if you are not consistent with your training, getting proper recovery and proper nutrition.  If you are not looking after these basics, then your investment in hockey training aids is a waste of your money.

 Here are the items that I think belong in the hockey players’ or hockey coaches’ tool box:

  1. Dumbbells – if I could pick between a set of dumbbells and a barbell, I would probably pick ‘both’, but if I could only have one, then I could pretty easily pick the dumbbells.  Using dumbbells requires more stabilization, allows the athlete to perform unilateral or bilateral exercises to change the demand on the core stabilizers and can be used to build muscular strength, power or endurance.  Caution:  make sure you select a weight that allows you to maintain perfect technique throughout the entire set.
  2. Stability Ball – great tool for dynamic stabilization and you can incorporate it with some of your strength training exercises with nice results.  Caution:  make sure you purchase a burst resistant high quality stability ball and forget about standing on the ball.  That is a circus trick, not hockey training.
  3. Medicine Ball – wonderful for developing upper body power and lower body power, but it can also be use to help build stability such as performing push ups with hands on the medicine ball.  Caution:  hockey players often want to train with the heaviest medicine ball that they can get their hands on.  Remember that you are typically trying to develop power when using this tool, so stay in the medium (6-12lbs) range to begin with and focus on rapidly accelerating the training tool.  
  4. Resistance Bands – these can be used for strength, balance or power training, they allow the hockey player to rapidly accelerate against resistance with out the requirement to decelerate the resistance as is the case in lifting free weights.  Caution: purchase high quality resistance bands that are encased with a nylon sheath so there is no chance of the band snapping back at the athlete when it eventually breaks.
  5. Agility Ladder – you can use this tool to work on your movement patterns.  You do not even need to buy one; you can just tape one out on the basement floor or draw one in the garage with sidewalk chalk.  Caution:  make sure you are staying in a low athletic position as you practice ladder drills, do not waste your time reinforcing poor habits like standing up as soon as you get fatigued.

Start with the top three items on the list for your initial investment in the home-based hockey training centre.  If you are consistently using these tools, then adding the final two items will give you even more training options.  A final reminder though, before you spend a single penny on hockey training aids, make sure you are committed to your training program, because that makes all the difference.