Beginner Athletic Development For Young Hockey Players

get started with Athletic development

Phil will be providing the JK Hockey website with professional insight and advice each month to help young aspiring hockey players become better athletes.

We will also be posting the information on our site too.

The first instalment takes a look at 5 strength exercises ideal for the aspiring young hockey player.

Lets discuss the need for young hockey players to become better physically prepared.

Why should a hockey player improve their strength, mobility and speed?

  • Better prepared physically and psychologically
  • Achieve hockey specific positions consistently without tiring
  • Reduce the likelihood of avoidable common hockey injuries
  • Improved pitch coverage on attack and defence
  • Better strength to hold your ground
  • Effective and more successful tackling

Hockey is becoming an increasingly more physical and fast paced game. Hockey players’ bodies are subject to high stress and strain throughout a hockey match and often at higher levels during training due the repetitive nature of practice.

Running, stopping, turning, cutting all put their young bodies under stress a pose potential risks such as muscle strain, joint pain and even soft tissue tears.

Taking part in a structured, age and ability specific Athletic Development Programme is vital for the young aspiring hockey player to not only reduce the risks commonly associated with hockey but also to create solid all-round physical foundations to serve them in the future.

An educated and deep foundation in strength, mobility and movement will enable young athletes to include a multitude of training methods and obtain an optimal training effect for top performance as they growth and pass through the age groups to senior hockey.

Read what we do with athletes at different ages here

the exercises

The following 5 exercises are used by many of our junior athletes equally as preparation before a match and training or as part of a separate training session all together.

  • You will need:
    1 hockey stick

walkout to overhead squat

What: Full body drill challenging mobility and flexibility across legs, hips, back and shoulders.

Relate to hockey: Improving hip mobility enables the hockey player to achieve positions needed to play great hockey and maintain them throughout the duration of a match. Adding the overhead element engages the shoulder and back muscles and challenges strength and movement.

How: Archie, a player at the JK Academy and England Hockey Player demonstrates.

Lateral Lunge

What: Single leg strength exercise challenging the quads, hamstrings and glutes.

Relate to hockey:Players hinge at the hips and load their weight sideways through a single leg throughout a game. Stronger glutes and hamstring muscles helps hockey players stay in a good position to execute skills and to get back into positions to move.

How: Archie, a player at the JK Academy and England Hockey Player demonstrates.

explosive vertical jump

What:Explosive lower body exercise to improve reactive strength enabling faster muscle contraction.

Relate to hockey: Enables the hockey player to change speed from slow to fast in a shorter time giving them the edge against their opponents by getting to loose balls quicker, close down defence quicker and attack with pace.

How: Archie, a player at the JK Academy and England Hockey Player demonstrates.

shoulder mobility press

What: Upper body exercise improving and maintaining good shoulder movement.

Relate to hockey: Off-set the continued shoulder rounding with this exercise. Healthy shoulder function is an important part of having good posture and being able to achieve athletic positions in hockey.

How: Archie, a player at the JK Academy and England Hockey Player demonstrates.


What: Strength exercise challenging strength and stability on one leg.

Relate to hockey: Hockey players execute shots, run, turn and receive whist on one leg or loading their weight to one leg. Better strength improves their stability and control during all these.

How: Archie, a player at the JK Academy and England Hockey Player demonstrates.

putting these into a programme

Exercises are put into a structured programme to ensure the best results from each exercise. You’ll see I have added some information to the programme table. These are programme variables and determine how the athlete goes about completing the programme.

The combination of perfect technique and correct programme variables makes the difference between actually improving and wasting your time.

Rep: The amount of times you perform a single full movement of an exercise from start to finish
Set: A group of reps performed together
Tempo: The speed an athlete executes the movement of an exercise. Sometimes expressed with words such as ‘slow’, ‘explosive’ or slow down/fast up’ and with some programmes, expressed with numbers movement e.g 3010 with a squat – 3 seconds to lower the
Rest: The time in seconds the athlete rests between exercises

Ordering: On the left, you can see A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5. This relates to the order the athlete performs the exercises. With this particular programme the athlete will perform a set of A1 which is the Walkout To Overhead Reach then perform a set of A2, the Lateral Lunge then A3 to A4 to A5. Once all are completed the athlete returns to A1 and completes the 5 exercises again.

Start with completing 2 rounds of the whole programme for 2-3 sessions then move to completing 3 rounds.

Next time …

We’ll be looking at what young hockey athletes can do to help themselves recover better from matches and practice.

Get involved with Become An Athlete …

Become An Athlete is expanding and can now take on new athletes. Phil and the Become An Athlete team are pleased to offer JK Hockey players the chance to get involved with individual and small group coaching and individualised strength & conditioning programming. Phil and Become An Athlete team can offer coaching throughout the week, at weekends and school holidays.

We’ll be back with more great exercise advice and programmes you can implement right away. .

All the best,

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