Summer Hockey or Dryland Trainin? Depends on Where You’re Going
Dr. Clint Steele DC, CSCS


For most of you, the hockey season is long gone and you are anticipating greener, hotter days and a chance to play…more hockey?

You’ve signed up for a summer league, or may have already logged a game’s worth of shifts. That’s all well and good if you’re playing for the right reason. If you’re playing organized hockey this summer to improve your skills, then you may want to think again.

The college and professional coaches and players I speak with all agree that ice hockey in the off-season should be just that, OFF.

If you – or one of your players if you’re a coach or your child if you’re a parent – are serious about the game of hockey and want to reach your ultimate potential, playing five-on-five games in the off-season WILL NOT help your game; in fact it may hinder your development.

Instead of deciding which summer hockey league to compete in this summer, think about devoting the warm weather months to off-ice training.

As pointed out by the experts, five-on-five games will limit the amount of time you control the puck to maybe two minutes a game at most. You’ll get to shoot the puck five or six times, pass the it perhaps 10 times and get 20-30 minutes of skating in per game.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you (or your child) play once a week. Now, let’s take those 60 minutes you devote to each game and split it into two 30-minute sessions of dryland training. In the same 60 minutes every week you will be able to shoot 100 pucks in 15 minutes or so, stickhandle for 10 minutes, perform six sets of 50 sit-ups, six sets of 25 pushups, six sets of 10 squat jumps, five sets of 10-yard quick-start sprints, and five sets of 40-yard sprints -- and still have five minutes left over for anaerobic conditioning consisting of three one-minute sets of extreme jump rope.

Here are your totals for an 11-week period, assuming you play one game a week

Summer Hockey
Summer Off-ice Training
Total shots
66 shots
1,100 shots
Puck handling time               
22 minutes
110 minutes
Upper body strength    
1,650 push-ups  
Core muscle development 
3,300 sit-ups
Lower body strength              
660 squat-jumps
Explosive muscle development
Little to none
2,500 yards of sprints
Anaerobic conditioning        
36 minutes of extreme jump rope



All of this can be accomplished simply by substituting two 30-minute dryland workouts a week for a single 60-minute game. It’s pretty easy to see which program will provide better results.

I want to reiterate that this is for the serious hockey player who wants to reach his or her full potential. If you are just looking to have fun and want something to do over the summer, or in combination with your dryland workouts, then go ahead and play one game a week. I would recommend, however, that you seriously consider a three-on-three league. It will allow you to see the game a differently and to do things that you cannot do in five-on-five competition.    


"Success is the sum of small efforts -- repeated day-in and day-out." -- Robert
(Who is Robert Collier?)

Your goal for next season is to improve your wrist shot. Currently, you shoot the puck with fair accuracy at a speed of 40 miles an hour. Your goal is to maintain your accuracy while accelerating the speed of your shot to 55 miles mph. It’s July and you have three months in which to reach your goal. You need a plan. Let me help.

Shoot a puck 20 times a day five days a week. In less than 25 minutes a you will fire 2,000 pucks over the summer. Now, add a weighted puck or a stick weight, such as the Pro-Weight, to compound your results.

“Success is the sum of small efforts -- repeated day-in and day-out.” If you shot 20 pucks one day there would be little to no progress. But when you do so every day, you will see dramatic results. Remember, the NHLers didn’t learn to rip the puck 100 mph overnight. They can do so because of the little things they did on a regular, frequent basis as a teenager.

Dr. Steele is a leader in the area of off-ice strength training and conditioning. He has trained hundreds of hockey players from around the world, as well as NHL players and teams. He is currently the strength coach for the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He is the founder of the world’s largest hockey- specific training magazine and website . For a free copy of the magazine, contact Dr. Steele at




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