Off the Ice Is the Place to Be for Offseason Training

Dryland training is one part of a balanced offseason schedule

By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI – Jeff Blindauer stresses to his athletes the importance of off-ice training during the offseason. It’s a critical part of any athlete’s plan to stay in shape when it’s not time to lace up the skates.

Blindauer — who is the director of strength and conditioning for the Chicago Fury organization — makes sure that when the hockey season is over, he’s giving players a complete rundown on what dryland training they should focus on in the spring leading up to tryouts in the fall. 

Blindauer uses a five-phase approach. Each step can typically run for three to four weeks.

The first phase is rebuilding the athlete, which is generally from March to early April. These basic dryland workouts should include walking, running, lunging, jumping and skipping. Also, in the rebuild, working on flexibility is a main key.

“A simple warmup and stretch can be effective for this,” Blindauer said. “Because they’ve been in a skate all season, we try to get them flexible in everything — the glutes, hamstrings, calves, groin, back, shoulders.”

Another part of the rebuild is strengthening. It should be for the entire body.

The next two phases are volume followed by strength.

“This is kind of why we train, to get stronger, to perform better and to prevent injuries,” Blindauer said.

The fourth phase is power: making an athlete more powerful on and off the ice.

“If we can coordinate that with on-ice drills, this will help the athlete,” Blindauer said. “They can convert that strength into power, but then produce that power off the ice to power on ice.” 

The final phase, which goes right up the start of the season, is increasing the volume of running and endurance.

“We want to build the most powerful athletes we can, but then we also need to know that when they start the season,” Blindauer said. “They’re going to be leaning toward a lot of conditioning, drilling in the season, so we want to help them build that conditioning. But we do it in a way that doesn’t injure what we’ve already gained in our speed, strength, power and quickness.”

Blindauer emphasized the same training can be done for males and females, and all ages can partake in these steps. The younger players just have to modify the activities a bit.

Blindauer said stretching and glute activation is similar for all ages.

“But the means in which we do it will be different,” Blindauer said. “The little guys will do body weight movements; they’ll do bands and just simple motion.” 

Multi-sport athletes who are doing fitness and other athletic things don’t need to necessarily go through offseason training, Blindauer said. 

Studies have shown athletes are typically more successful in hockey if they play other sports, Blindauer noted.

“Not only for injury prevention, but just to be a complete athlete and to go further,” he said. 

Playing multiple sports is not just good advice, it’s been a proven path to success for high-level players. A Penn State study of 91 players from the pros and NCAA Division I and III showed that just 12 percent of them focused solely on hockey before they turned 12. Most played two to four sports while growing up, focusing on hockey at an average age of 14.3 years.

How often athletes work on dryland activities during a given week will depend on what kind of other activities they are involved with.

“We would like to see at least two days a week for the younger athletes and then as many as four days a week with the older athletes,” Blindauer said. 

Those athletes training twice a week can stay on a good schedule if they go Tuesdays and Thursdays. For players who are 14U and older, Blindauer suggests training on an every other day basis.

“We’ve found that a lot of kids, they’re pretty willing to do things, they want to do more,” Blindauer said. 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.



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