Now that your winter hockey season is coming to an end, it’s time to start mapping out your off-season training schedule. So where do you start? This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you break it down into small, individual parts.

  1. The first step is to identify a few of areas of your game that you want to improve. Do you want to get faster, stronger or put on some weight? Do you want to develop a heavier, more accurate shot? Or maybe you want to just acquire better overall stickhandling and shooting proficiency?

If you’re not sure what is most important, consider the feedback that your coach gave you last season during practices or games. If you don’t recall any consistent messages, then reach out to your coach and ask what are the 2-3 things they recommend to help you make the team / make a higher team / get more playing time next year. Resist the urge to take offense at whatever they say, and instead consider that identifying and working on those opportunities for improvement is what separates the good players from the great and truly elite players.


  1. Find Resources. Now that you have your objectives identified, go search for the resources to help you reach your goal. For example, if you want to improve your skating skills, find a power skating instructor in your area. Want to develop a stronger shot? Consider visiting with a shooting coach in your area to confirm that you have the right technique, weight transfer, stick flex, among other characteristics. See what program offerings are available and sign up.

Not sure who to work with? If Google not producing helpful results, chat with a coach or board member within your association who they recommend. Often times the best coaches are “old school” and operate via word of mouth vs broadly advertised, so prepare to dig a little bit.

If there is not a critical mass of training professionals in your area, or in-person sessions don’t work for your schedule or budget, we recommend looking into online resources such as for expert information about offers home training drills and tips.

And whether you live close to training professionals or not, home training is also a major component of off-season improvement. Find a way to dedicate a portion of your house to shoot, stickhandle, and/or pass. Often times a basement, garage, driveway or concrete slab in the backyard offer the best potential. You’ll need a form of hockey flooring such as dryland hockey tiles, shooting pads or synthetic ice, so that you can both protect your stick and floors. Next, consider whether you have objects to shoot at, whether that be a backyard goal, shooting tarp, targets, or beat-up laundry machine. Training tools for passing and stickhandling also come in handy, but you can also train with a partner, stack pucks in certain pattens, and/or use household items like folding chairs to assist as training tools.


  1. Schedule Your Days. This is the most-simple but also the most important step. Consider that there are only 24 hours in a day and 8-10 of those hours are needed for sleep, so in actuality you only have 14-16 hours to fill your day and you might have a job, summer classes, other sports, and other distractions.

Pick a time of day that you can consistently block off 2-3 times per week. If the timing is dictated by your training professional, then prepare to be flexible to make it work. Mark it on your iPhone calendar or hand-written calendar, and commit to it. I recommend mornings, because as the day progresses, you have a higher likelihood of getting pulled by friends to do other activities.


Consider cross-training activities as well, such as those that improve cardio, flexibility, vision, or strength. Cycling, tennis, swimming, yoga, weight-lifting or all great examples. Consider how to integrate these into daily or 2-3 week activities, and whether you need to do some more than others (i.e. strength and conditioning).


  1. Team Up. One way to push yourself to another level of training off-ice is to pair up with a buddy. When doing stickhandling or shooting drills, make it a competition. See who can complete a stickhandling course in the fastest time or who can get the most bar downs in 10 shots.

Another benefit of teaming up is holding each other accountable to not miss scheduled training dates and times. Sometimes that friendly peer pressure is just enough to make sure that you get it done.

A training partner can also help film a session, set-up the next drill while you’re finishing the prior one, and collecting and passing you pucks. But the biggest benefit is the social benefit and helping to make it more fun.


  1. Be Persistent. The biggest hockey stick skills development killer is procrastination. Don’t be the player who puts off practice until the start of the season is right around the corner. Commit, don’t quit. Be persistent on a weekly basis and you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll achieve by the start of next season!!

Create a reward for yourself for training X number of days, improving your bench press by Y, or hitting Z number of shots. It can be somethings fun like going to a concert or an extra cabin weekend, or something hockey related like a new stick or pair of skates. Whatever you choose, keep the eye on the prize while you’re grinding away all summer to be your very best.



Edited in May 2024 from original article written by Lance Pitlick in March 2019. Based in the Minneapolis area, Lance is a former NHL player with Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, played collegiate hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, is a foremost training professional with stickhandling and shooting both in-person and through, and is the founder and former owner of Snipers Edge Hockey.

May 13, 2024 — Sniper Sam

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