The current position of Strength and Conditioning for UK Ice Hockey
Ice hockey is an intense and potentially dangerous contact sport, proper physical preparation is essential to maximise player safety and promote longevity in their playing careers. Strength and conditioning for UK ice hockey is important.
However, ice hockey is behind the curve quite considerably when it comes to the number of players that actively participate in quality strength and conditioning practices. Only a handful of elite league clubs utilise strength and conditioning staff, despite teams being required to play between 60-75 games in an 8-month time frame. In the NIHL National league, still considered a professional/semi-professional league, little to no teams utilise strength and conditioning programming. This is despite players still being required to play close to 60-games per season.
On the development side, there are numerous instances where players move through all the junior hockey age groups and embark on senior careers, having done little to no structured strength and conditioning at any stage.
We feel a culture change around strength and conditioning is needed to allow players to prepare physically for the game. The entry level for strength and conditioning in ice hockey should be long before players start playing contact rules (12-13 years old) and is an absolute must before players are allowed to play at senior level (16 years old).