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Revolution Conditioning Training Tip: The Most Common Reason Hockey Training Programs Fail

Regular InGoal Columnist Maria Mountain is an expert trainer of hockey players, including Stanley Cup Champions. Learn more about working with her at

Today I am going to share a dirty little secret about all exercise programs. Here it is…Everything works (pretty much). So if you have never done off-ice training for hockey before and you decide to do nothing but biceps curls and knee extensions – you will get stronger, you will get bigger biceps probably and you may even feel better on the ice for a while.

This is why you see so many garbage training programs out there. Whatever you try will probably work, in the short term anyway. Like all things there are great off-ice training programs for hockey goalies, but there are also ones that are just good, but nothing too spectacular, and ones that are downright awful.

A good program will typically get you some results for a while and probably not injure you. An awful program will have a chest day, a back day, a leg day, a shoulders day (you get the idea). It probably will not get you results on the ice, but you may look better in the locker room with your shirt off (maybe) and you will likely develop some sort of injury within 3 months of starting the program.

So, now that you know that almost any training program will work to varying degrees and with varying success, why do most programs absolutely fail? I’m going to tell you the same thing I told my high school boyfriend…”It’s not me…It’s YOU!” The most common reason off-ice training programs fail is that the athlete does not actually DO the program. They do their own variation of the program such as:

• The Add-ON – I do the workout you told me to do, but then I went for a 45 minute run
• The Substitution – Instead of doing the core work and the flexibility, because it was not really that hard for me, I did crunches instead
• The Closet Bodybuilder – I just added four sets of bench press and 10 sets of biceps curls at the end; it was killer I got it from “Pump You Up” magazine

A great off-ice training program is designed with specific adaptations for each phase in mind. It is not a shotgun approach of trying a bunch of different stuff, hoping something works.

Here is another way hockey players sabotage their off-ice training program…they don’t do it. This may be because they are just not committed to it, or because they tried to bite off more than they can chew. I often meet players who will say things like, “I want to get a hockey scholarship more than anything in the world!” Then in the same conversation they will say, “Oh, yeah, I didn’t get my Thursday or Saturday workout done this week because I:
• Had to take my Mom grocery shopping (valid)
• I had a school project to finish because I left it to the last minute
• I was over at my buddies house for his birthday
• I had tickets to an awesome concert

Okay so you want to get a hockey scholarship, almost more than anything in the world it is just that procrastinating on work, socializing with friends and music appreciation are bigger priorities. And that is all fine as long as you are honest with yourself.

In the second scenario, the athlete will tell me – I want to train for one hour six days per week. But then I find out they have a full time job, look after their granny and go on the ice 6-times each week. This player has bit off more than they can chew and instead of doing a pro-style goalie training program, they need to condense their off-ice program into something that is doable right now. Will you get the same results? No. Will you get 75% of the results – yeah probably. And being 75% better than you currently are is pretty darn good wouldn’t you agree

So, here are my tips to help you succeed with your off-ice training:
1. Start by planning to do a little less than you think you reasonably have time for. Set yourself up for success. Consistency is the key. You can have the best program in the world, but if you are not getting it done, then it is worthless.
2. Make sure you are spending your time working on things that will actually translate onto the ice rather than wasting your time doing the latest workout for “Bigger Bulging Biceps” that you get from the muscle magazines. Follow a proven training system.
3. If you can either hire a strength and conditioning coach or a personal trainer to help maximize the efficiency of your time in the gym and keep you accountable that is great; just make sure they have experience working with hockey players.
4. Finally, do a program with a buddy. This way you have someone else to hold you accountable, someone to spot you during certain exercises, someone to help correct your form and someone to push you. You will do the same for him or her so it is a win:win situation.

About The Author

Maria Mountain M.Sc.

Hockey strength and conditioning coach Maria Mountain, MSc specializes in off-ice training for hockey goalies. As the founder of and the owner of Revolution Sport Conditioning in London, Ontario, Maria has trained Olympic Gold medalists, a Stanley Cup Champ and athletes from MLB, NHL, AHL, CHL, CIS and more. Try Maria's Goalie Stretch Solution today.