This is a common problem faced by hockey players, especially younger athletes who often have other sports commitments running concurrently. This leads to confusion, and suboptimal training, which at worst may lead to injury and illness as you become increasingly fatigued.
In this article, I am going to address a number of problems that hockey players face when trying to structure the training week.
The most obvious problem is that there isn’t enough guidance available for young hockey players when trying to structure their training weeks. If you aren’t training within a pathway or club that provides this, you might not know where to turn. My mission with Integrate Sports is to solve this - providing you with the content, knowledge and services to enable you to excel in your own unique way.
Typical training week
Let’s first turn to what a typical training week for a youth hockey player looks like…
Monday - school training
Tuesday - club training
Wednesday - school training
Thursday - club training
Friday - training or rest day
Saturday - school or club match
Sunday - school or club match
This isn’t to say that your schedule will look like this, but it’s probably not a million miles away either.
For a senior hockey player, your training week might look like this…
Monday - gym session
Tuesday - club training
Wednesday - gym session
Thursday - club training
Friday - rest day
Saturday - club match
Sunday - rest day
Again, this may differ for you based on your club schedule but it gives a general idea of the training week.
The rule of 2
If we now consider that we also need to be following the ‘rule of 2’ for physical training each week, it may become a little daunting when seeking to fit everything in. The rule of 2 is that hockey players should seek to complete at least 2 mobility, 2 strength, 2 tissue capacity and 2 conditioning sessions per week.
Problem - “I don’t know how to fit in 8 sessions in my training week on top of my busy hockey training schedule.”
Solution - Be smart with your training sessions, combining elements together if time is limited.
Example - Your mobility, strength and conditioning sessions can be combined into 2 sessions in total. 5-10 minutes of mobility work, 30 minutes of strength training and 10-15 minutes of tissue capacity training (everything completed in under an hour)
The take home here is that you can put elements together to make you more time efficient. There’s no need to do 8 separate sessions, although doing them on different days may be better from a physiological perspective. Logistics often takes priority over this however, and building good habits around training is more important.
Conditioning sessions in my training week
Problem - “I am already doing so much training, I don’t think that I can complete more conditioning work!”
Solution - Use an RPE scale to determine if your hockey sessions are providing you with the necessary fitness stimulus. If your session is over 60 minutes long and feels like a 7/10 intensity, then that is one of your conditioning sessions taken care of.
Example - “I just did a tough hockey pitch session, which lasted 75 minutes. It felt like an 8/10, so that’s one of my two conditioning sessions ticked off!”
Example - “I just did a pretty easy 5/10 difficulty 45 minute hockey pitch session, so I’m going to do 20 minutes of top up conditioning at the end to tick off one of my conditioning sessions for the week.”
This solution works well, as it is adaptable to the demands of each session and works well as a rule of thumb. The take home being that if you have a difficult training session, then there isn’t necessarily any need to do more training. Quality training is the aim, and if you can get your conditioning work through hockey then that’s a great outcome.
Strength training sessions when short of time
Problem - “My week is already so busy, I don’t think I can fit in strength training on top of this!”
Solution - Focus on the ‘big rocks’, the things that provide most of the returns in a programme. Exercises like split squats, RDLs and squat variations provide more bang for your buck than accessory work. When time is tight, shorten your session and just focus on these instead.
Example - “I’ve got lots of this week, so I’m just going to do 3 sets of split squats, RDLs and calf raises, which shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.”
The take home with this solution is that you don’t need to be doing full 60-90 minute sessions when time is tight. Of course, ideally you would be doing at least 2 full strength sessions, but if this isn’t viable then shortening the session can keep you ticking along and injury free.
Training around important matches
Problem - “I’ve got an important match coming up, so I don’t want to feel tired going into this! I’m going to stop all other sessions this week to prepare.”
Solution - Don’t stop training altogether, instead just reduce the total weekly volume to enable recovery and a slight deload. If you always underload yourself when a match comes up, you will be chronically underloaded in the long term and underdeveloped in relation to your physical potential.
Example - “I’ve got a big game coming up, so rather than stopping my S&C work, I’m going to adjust it accordingly. I will remove intensive conditioning this week, but keep up my speed training exposures and will keep consistent with my strength training but at reduced volumes.”
Again, the take home from this scenario is that you don’t have to remove all training. Think about the long term - accumulation of training over many years is what enables you to excel. At the very top level, athletes continue to train during busy periods, but adjust the content to make it appropriate.
Speed training in the training week
Problem - “I don’t have time for speed training on top of everything else, plus I’m always so tired!”
Solution - Get regular (at least 2x/week) exposures to speed training by incorporating them into your warm ups. If you have club training twice per week, use 5 minutes of the time beforehand to practice 3-4 high quality rolling sprints. Ideally, race someone else to increase the intensity. Speeds above 90% of your top speed are the aim!
Example - “I want to keep on top of my speed work as I want to get faster, but I’ve got lots of hockey on at the moment. I’m going to do 4 flying 20m sprints in my warm ups twice this week, to give me 160m of top speed volume this week. I’ll sprint against a mate to make it more competitive too!”
I hope that this article has given you some useful ideas for how to adapt training when time is tight or you have a congested schedule. Think about how you can adapt, not stop training altogether.
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p.s. You might also like my article Structuring Your Training Week.