Off Season Dryland Training

Excerpt from Off Season Dryland Training Program – Ron Dussiaume

Hockey is a game which demands high speed acceleration interspersed with periods of low speed skating. This means that an effective hockey player needs explosive power, the ability to tolerate repeated high speed bursts, and the capability to recover between shifts, between periods, and between games. Strength is also required to protect a hockey player from injury and to establish position against an opponent. Many other factors are also created around the game which reward hockey players that have a high level of fitness.

It goes without saying that success in the game of hockey is highly dependent on skating, passing, shooting, and puckhandling skills. In concert with sound tactics, the blending of these skills create the potential for excellence. However, if power and strength quickly deteriorate during games, the execution of these skills is affected and a hockey player’s value is reduced.

The Off-Season Dryland Training Program should highlight and promote the importance of physical preparation for hockey success. The program ideally is designed to get the maximum training effect for the time and effort invested. This off-season training phase contains the scientific foundations of conditioning and strength building based on many years experience in the training of professional, college, and amateur hockey players.

For the competitive hockey player, training is never a constant. It must continually be adapted to changing circumstances. Fitness is not an end in itself. It is the beginning and foundation of every great athletic performance.


The major focus of the Off-Season Dryland Training Program is to achieve the following five (5) objectives:

Develop The Aerobic Endurance Base

Each time a hockey player performs high power bursts or generates high strength, he uses up energy stores in the muscle. As well, the high power work produces lactic acid which brings about fatigue quickly. In order to flush muscles of this waste product and to supply fuels and oxygen to be used to replace the high energy stores in muscle, the hockey player needs a well-developed central cardiovascular system. This system also helps to dissipate heat and adjust to the stress of travel.

This cardiovascular or “aerobic” fitness is not very important in the energy supply for the high power bursts on-ice but is crucial for optimal recovery between shifts, periods, and games. It is the fundamental base upon which athletes can do more strength and power training.

Improve General Flexibility

Flexibility is important because when muscle tendons and joint capsules are properly stretched they are less prone to injury. Also, a properly lengthened muscle can apply more power because it can contract through a complete range of motion instead of a portion of the total range.

Properly stretched muscles also can help conserve energy. If a muscle is not lengthened, it will resist the activity of the opposite muscle group, and requires this muscle to work harder at its end range.

Reduce Body Fat

Body weight is a combination of fat and fat-free (muscle, bone, fluid) components, and over-weightness is a result of an excess of the former. In order to look and perform best, the fat component should be kept within a desirable range (8% – 12%). By measuring the fat which is stored under the skin at certain sites on the body, it is possible to determine the total amount of fat on the body. From this information, the fat-free weight of the hockey player is calculated, and from this, the ideal body weight.

Improve Skating Speed, Acceleration & Agility

Although skating speed and acceleration are considered very important, agility and cornering ability (turns) are the most important of all skating attributes.

One of the consequences of the high velocities attainable by hockey players is increased centrifugal force on corners. To compound the problem of a large force on the legs, the hockey player must bend his knees more as the forces get bigger, because a torque is created by the outward (centrifugal) and inward (centripetal) forces. To reduce the torque, a skater must lower his centre of gravity.

Simple physics of cornering forces shows us that strength training must supplement on-ice skating in order to correctly develop the skill of cornering at high speed. Hockey players must train for a low centre of gravity at a young age.

The chart below depicts the off-ice training methods required to improve skating speed, acceleration, and agility.

To Improve = Off-Ice Training Method

Powerful Stride = Intense weight training and plyometrics

Recovery Phase Of the Skating Stride = Sprint uphill, downhill, or on a flat surface

Low Centre Of Gravity for Cornering = Intense weight training of the lower body

Body Fat Reduction = Endurance training and proper diet

Muscular Endurance = Skating specific exercises (ie- power stride board) with Bent Knees and use of weight vests

Develop Muscular Strength/Hypertrophy

In hockey, strength is needed in muscles to protect players against injury, to provide a solid base for player-to-player combat and maintenance of territory, and to generate dynamic strength for the production of power.

To improve muscular strength and muscular power, training must challenge both the muscles and nerves sufficiently. This is the dual role of heavy resistance training. Improvement in strength and power results from two changes due to training. The first, most obvious change is that muscles get bigger (hypertrophy) when overload on a consistent basis. Each muscle fiber (especially each fast-twitch fibre) becomes larger because it contains more contractile elements (myofibrils). Simply stated, training, rest, and nutrition, build more protein elements (protein synthesis) for muscle contraction.

The second change is less apparent, but just as important in strength gain. The nervous system “learns” from chronic overload to recruit more muscle fibres and to have them fire more frequently.

Note: Ron Dussiaume – the author and inventor of the Mitron High Performance Hockey System and Training Centre, the Best Selling author of over forty hockey manuals that have been purchased by coaches in Europe, USA and Canada. Ron was an Advanced Level 5 Coach, only 1 of 17 in all of Canada and eligible to coach Olympic Hockey. A mentor to many, Ron’s vision and teaching methods are missed. Elected posthumously to the Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, Dussiaume passed away on February 10th (2007) at the age of 58.


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