In this guide, we'll look at why warming up is essential, share a sample warm-up routine, and offer tips on creating your own warm-up. We'll also highlight the often-overlooked mental benefits and how warm-ups help you prepare mentally for the game.
Benefits of Properly Warming Up Before Hockey:
A hockey warm-up routine goes beyond injury prevention; it's a catalyst for enhanced performance. The key benefits include:
- Increased Muscle Function: Speed, strength, agility, and power are potentiated by the quicker contraction and relaxation of warmed-up muscles.
- Improved Nervous System Function: Warming up heightens nerve receptor sensitivity, leading to improved speed and reaction time—a crucial aspect in hockey.
- Enhanced Blood Flow: Elevated blood temperature facilitates oxygen transport, supplying working muscles with the fuel they need for optimal performance.
- Greater Range of Motion: Dynamic warm-ups contribute to improved flexibility, decreasing the risk of injuries and promoting more active movements in the game.
Mental Benefits and Preparation in Warm-Ups:
The mental aspect of warm-ups is often underestimated. Hockey players are notoriously superstitious and often times will engage in a set routine before games to get their mind ready. Even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky had the same routine before every game – he would put his gear on in a very specific order: left shinguard, left sock, right shinguard, right sock, pants, left skate, right skate, shoulder pads, left elbow pad, right elbow pad, and finally his jersey, tucking the right side into his pants. Tailor your routine to fit your personal needs, a well-structured mental routine can:
- Calm Nerves: By gradually easing into physical activity, players can reduce pre-game anxiety and nervousness.
- Improve Focus: Visualization techniques during warm-ups help players mentally rehearse successful game actions, enhancing overall focus.
- Improve performance with positive Self-Talk: Encouraging words during warm-ups contribute to a positive mindset, vital for peak performance.
Creating Your Dry Land Hockey Training Specific Warm-Up:
Customizing your warm-up depends on factors like athlete level, workout nature, and individual weaknesses:
- General Warm-Up: Generally players/teams do warm up games like sewer ball/soccer juggling. If you aren't playing warm up games you can do general cardio like 5 minutes of jogging, or 5 minutes on the cardio bike.
- Specific Warm-Up: 2-5 agility/speed-based movements, tailored to the athlete's proficiency. Some examples of dynamic movements include: shuttle runs, agility ladder drills, lateral shuffles, high knees & butt kicks.
- Hockey specific skills: If your'e a player: practice stick handling drills or passing with a teammate to get a feel before the game. Practice stick handling drills like: figure 8's around a cone or tape down a "W" on the ground and practice tracing the lines with stick handles like toe drags. If you're a goalie you can do reaction ball drills like juggling or throwing bouncing balls against the wall practicing catching.
Frequently Asked Hockey Warm-Up Questions:
- When should I do my hockey warm-up? Ideally, 45-60 minutes before hitting the ice. This will be player specific and some players will have more elaborate routines that may need more time before the game.
- What should you eat before a hockey game? Before a hockey game, consume a balanced pregame meal with complex carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats, such as grilled chicken with quinoa. As the game approaches, opt for quick carbs like a banana or energy bar to provide a rapid energy boost. Staying hydrated is crucial for peak performance in hockey. In addition to regular water intake, replenishing electrolytes through sports drinks or water with added salt is essential to maintain hydration levels and support optimal physical function.
From physical readiness to mental preparation, a well-structured warm-up routine is your key to unlocking peak performance on the ice. Tailor your warm-up to your needs, stay focused, and dominate every game.