Do you ever wonder why you really feel into the game only after the 10 minute mark or even the 2nd period? Well the answer is simple, you probably aren’t doing a sufficient enough warm up prior to playing. What is the correct way to warm up for a hockey game? The answers players will give you are sporadic to say the least. Playing professionally you are responsible for warming up on your own. This varies from player to player but the end result every coach and general manager wants to see is that you are mentally focused from the first drop of the puck. Some players do absolutely nothing physical to warm up for a hockey game. They rely on the 15-20 minute on ice warm up prior to the game commencing. Most of the players play a form of soccer before putting their gear on. “Two-touch” or “sewer ball” is a fun way to get the legs going and your heart rate up (depending on your effort level). It is also a good way to relax and have a couple laughs before 60 minutes of fast paced, hard hitting and overall nerve racking game that we all love to play. Other players listen to music on their headphones and go for a jog around the rink and some players stretch in the weight room. There is no right or wrong way to prepare for a game but there is a way to maximize energy levels and be at the perfect peak come your first shift. You often hear players say “I wasn’t really into the game until after the first period.” That is probably because that is when they truly warmed up enough to be as explosive as this game requires us to be. You have to be “hot”, even sweating with your heart pumping before the game begins. And to achieve this you can do many different plyometic or dynamic warm ups but the key is get a “sweat on” before you put on your equipment.
The typical pre-game that I follow is; I get all the of the necessities out of the way first, tape my sticks, put in new laces in my skates (if need be) and review any game plan or opposing team’s tendencies (if your coach provides them). Then I start with a nice friendly game of “two touch”. Most of us professionals can’t wait for two-touch. It is a way to have one last team bonding session before we go out and play. I usually play until 20 minutes before my coach comes to give us our pep talk. That will give me enough time to do my actual warm up. My trainer, Kai Heinonen, came up with the perfect way to get nice and hot before I put my gear on. It is a 15 minute progressional warm up and what that means is you slowly work your way up to a full on sweat. World class sprinters don’t just stretch their quads and hamstrings and then expect to break the 100 meter dash record. They gradually get hot right before the race and this is what my trainer has engraved into me. My warm up consists of 30-40 second shifts (gradually increasing the pace) of plyometic movements that relate to every muscle you would use in a hockey game. After each shift make sure you stretch a different muscle for 30 seconds. I have 7 stretches that I do after each shift and the key to this warm-up is by the end of it you should have a sweat going and moving as quickly as you would be during a hockey game. Since I have been doing this warm-up I feel great from the first shift, it doesn’t take me a whole period to get into the game. The best part about this warm-up is that you will be nice and hot from the drop of the puck where others will need to get where you are, often its not until the 10 minute mark. The results, at least for myself, is more first period chances often resulting in more first period goals! Try this warm up once and then try going back to your usual way you warm up. You will be amazed at what this will do for your game!