3 great strength exercises for young hockey players
Strength exercises for young hockey players is an area that is starting to be recognised more and more. Often strengthening starts when a player is injured and has to strengthen to get back to fitness.
So, why is strength important? and won’t they get strong from just playing sport?
When your body is maturing as you get older, certain areas develop before others. Our muscles are being lengthened and therefore are not necessarily strong and some muscles don’t really develop until we hit puberty. For example, many of the 10-12 year old’s I see have very weak calf muscles. This makes them very flat footed and also heavy on their feet. If you then imagine in a sport such as hockey how much running there is then you can imagine what that reduction in strength may lead to.
So for this age group, calf strengthening will really help, along with good quads strength and squat technique.
As you get older (13-15 years) your lower body is getting stronger but your core has some catching up to do. If you are playing lots of hockey by now, your muscles are probably getting tight and causing you to compensate in your back.
Core is so important from an early age to protect your back. As for getting strong through sport, well that depends on whether you are doing a varied amount of sport or whether you have already started to specialise. The issue with specialising too soon is that your body then starts to grow adapted to that sport and do not balance out other muscles. In hockey that will look like tight quads, arched back and once you have adapted its very hard to break that pattern.
Strength training can take many forms, it can look like S&C sessions often provided at schools. It can look like specific exercises repeated little and often say, as a warm up. The general rule is that if you are working hard then you don’t need to do the exercises more than 1-2 per week. If you are just doing 1 or 2 you can do them more frequently. Pilates is another option as you get to work on balance and flexibility at the same time.
Here are 3 strength exercises for you to add to your programme
- Calf Raises (single leg and double leg) on a single leg you should aim to get between 15-20 reps. Also, try and do them fast to get more bounce
2. Squats are the essence of a good hockey position and often not done well. Practising good squat technique not only helps with the strength but also with your technique.
3. Hamstring bridge- this is great to build up your hamstring strength, this is often the muscle that will get injured in hockey so it is key to keep it strong and flexible