School is out, kids are excited and families are enjoying summer. Whether you’re up at the lake, cabin, or just chilling in the back yard, I know you’re wondering what your young hockey player can do to stay in shape. I have parents ask me every year if I can put something together for their player to do in the summer especially at the Pee Wee level.
With the Bantam Draft down the road, more and more parents with players in Pee Wee start asking for off-ice training tips. In all the years I’ve worked with young players, I’m a strong believer in starting to focus on strength training at the Pee Wee level. This gives them 3 to 4 real good years to build a solid foundation of strength, power, speed and overall athleticism before reaching the Midget level. Not only that, but off-ice development is an incredible platform for helping players in Pee Wee adopt healthy lifestyle habits, build confidence, work ethic, and discipline that all help to increase performance on the ice.
The best thing of all is that players at the Pee Wee level don’t need any equipment to start a proper strength training program. They can build incredible strength just using their own body weight, but why should they strength train at the Pee Wee level? Well, not just because of what I mentioned above but strength training helps protect players from injuries and increase their first step quickness dramatically. The number one question I get all the time is how I can help players get faster. As important as it is to educate parents on long-term development, the truth is that it’s quite easy to see a big difference in speed development in a very short period of time, if done the right way.
Think about this, when you take a player who has never done any kind of strength training, then all of a sudden apply those principles… they respond very fast. Their on-ice speed increases big time from strength training because the stronger a players’ core and lower body is the more power they can generate into the ice with each skating stride. I often hear parents refer to their player needing quick feet, when what they actually need is power in their skating stride. A perfect example is watching Conner McDavid. His feet don’t move fast, his legs generate long powerful strides where he gets from A to B very fast because of his power, not ‘quick feet’.
I had the amazing opportunity to be invited to the Vancouver Canucks training facility just a few years ago to watch some of the players train after their season ended and what I learned was invaluable. The best thing I took away from their head strength coach was simply this: stick to the basics, don’t get players hurt, and follow the principles of training no matter what level they are at. I always thought there was some secret to training the pros, but what I learned that day was that I was doing the right thing for the young hockey players I was working with.
With that knowledge I refined my training system to produce even better gains in strength and speed for all the players I worked with then and to this day. Let me give you an inside look at what a proper training system looks like for Pee Wee players. This example below is taken from my 6 Week Explosive Hockey Speed program. It involves lower body strength/core training with the sole focus of increasing first step quickness.
The first phase of the program incorporates a lower body strength exercise followed by a plyometric power exercise. Then I have players go right into a specific transitional speed drill followed by a core exercise and that’s it. It’s that simple and sticks to the basics, making the program super easy to follow. My summer programs are based on three different phases where players change exercises every two weeks to make it progressively harder, but the system still stays the same. Players have had great success using the exercises and format I’ve outlined below.
- BODY WEIGHT SQUATS
- WALKING LUNGES
- REAR ELEVATED SPLIT SQUATS
- BOX JUMPS
- LONG JUMPS
- SIDE JUMPS
- 5:10:5 DRILL
- ZIG ZAG DRILL
- 4 CONE TOUCH DRILL
- CROSS CRUNCHES
- SIDE PLANKS
Feel free to use some of these exercises to formulate and design a program that works best for your player and watch the difference in their speed on the ice. If you want to learn more about how my six week program works in more detail you can find all the information and more on my website. But start now by downloading the free report: 3 Things You Need to Know to Increase First Step Quickness and you’ll be well on your way to helping your player make an impact and be ready for tryouts.