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Dryland training tools like a Strideboard (also called a Slideboard) are critical to overall development and on-ice success!




I am very proud to offer Hockey Specific Dryland Training.  It’s something that I started developing long before it became a formal program in 2007. As excited as I am to offer this program, I want to be very upfront – this program is definitely not for everyone.  To put this simply, it’s for the player who has the desire, determination and dedication to train and wants to maximize their potential as a hockey player.  It is most definitely a commitment.  I must also say though, it’s structured in a way that we also have fun.  The small group creates a cohesive, positive and uplifting environment.  We seem to always get more accomplished than even I could possibly imagine.

Whenever I design a program for a particular player or age group, I always think of two things: 1) What does this age group/player need for immediate improvement and more importantly, for long term success, and 2) What do THEY want to do.  The trick and key to long-term success is to get the player to want to do what I want them to do – so they take ownership of their development (and hence, success).  Not always easy but it can be done.  I have found that kids don’t mind working very hard (they actually begin to REALLY like it) as long as they know there is a worthy reward (being a better player) at the end. 

Each age group has a definite priority and focus.  As players develop and mature, and as they move through the ‘stages of biological and neurological development’, the focus definitely changes to accommodate the hormonal, physical, emotional and psychological changes taking place within the player.  For a general example, a pre-pubescent player will focus on skills (technique), speed and coordination and a post-pubescent player will focus on intricate motor abilities and how it’s related with strength and ultimately, power.  There is a common theme in all the groups though – as skating technique, speed and strength (and power in the older group) is emphasized.  This is also best accomplished over a period of 4+ months.  The bottom line, in whatever stage a player is in, we want to maximize long-term development by training the specific components in a sequential manner to optimize their ‘neurological window of development’.  This is a once in a lifetime chance to develop their athleticism!          

Knee bend and the POWER created from THIS position is critical for on-ice success!

Said simply and a little differently, the vast majority of the time will be dedicated to developing the technique, speed and strength (and power in the older players) to play hockey at a higher pace.  Legs and core are the focus.  Considerable time is also spent on developing hand/wrist coordination and strength.  ‘Beach muscles’ (biceps, chest, and rectus abdominus, i.e. 6-pack abs) will not be addressed, especially for the younger players, but they will be worked in a functional manner.  Notice how all the muscles I just mentioned are in front!  I was taught many years ago, the front is for ‘show’ and the back (muscles you don’t see) muscles are for ‘go’!

The 4+ months of training is synergistic, consecutive and progressively builds upon itself.  For example, there will be more technique in the spring with Strideboard (also known as slideboard) and simulated dryland skating techniques.  While always doing some technique throughout the summer we transition and add hockey specific strength exercises followed by the many different ways to accomplish speed work.  The last portion of progression, lasting about 4 weeks at the end of the summer, is about bringing it all together.

Since implementing the program, I have observed that the players who did and progressed through the process have much more powerful legs, quicker feet, lower center of gravity (knee bend), a much better skating stride and most of all, more confidence.  Players also report all of this and more.  It’s something I sure wish I had as an aspiring hockey player!

Dr. Kurt Froese