The National Hockey League (NHL) teams hold training camps annually to prepare for the coming season. Typically beginning in mid-September, these camps provide players with a chance to hone their skills and achieve match fitness. For fans, NHL training camp can also offer the opportunity to get the first glimpse of a new signing or see a fan-favorite player make their preparations.
Coaches use training camps to analyze new players. The camps allow recent draft picks to showcase their skills and prove they can measure up to the established professionals who are already playing. To maximize training camps, a new draft pick or camp invite must enter the camp with some knowledge of what to expect.
Before getting on the ice, players will take part in off-ice testing. Usually lasting for about 60 minutes, this session consists of a battery of exercises that test the player’s physical endurance. Exercises include timed sprints and a vertical jump test, which help determine the player’s leg strength and endurance. Many camps also use a single-leg squat test for the same purpose. This exercise involves squatting the largest weight you can carry on a single leg for five repetitions. Players complete these reps on each leg.
You may undertake maximum pullup and pushup tests during this period too. Both involve completing the exercise to the rhythm of a metronome. The player keeps going until they cannot complete the pullup or pushup in time.
Finally, the off-ice session ends with some machine-based tests. Players may take a treadmill VO2 test, in which they make repeated sprints with constantly decreasing recovery times. Like the pullup and pushup tests, this treadmill exercise repeats until the player can’t go anymore. The coaches may also ask the player to take part in a Wingate Test, a 30-second sprint using a custom-designed bike set to maximum tension.
With this battery of off-ice tests completed, on-ice tests begin. Usually starting at approximately 9:30 am, these exercises allow players to demonstrate their capabilities on the ice. Again, the specific tests vary depending on the team. However, they typically involve engaging in various sprints. These include -sprints from the goal line to the blue sprint line and a test to see how many sprints you can complete to the center red line and back before stopping. Your endurance also gets tested with a multi-lap endurance exercise.
The on-ice session concludes at 11 am, with the player allowed to recover for the rest of the day. Recovery exercises include ice water baths, cool-down exercises, massages, and foam rolling. All recovery exercises relieve the muscles and prevent injury. Players should always participate in these recovery sessions as the activities prepare their bodies for the challenges they’ll face later in the camp.
The first day of an NHL training camp pushes your body to its limits. It’s also a competitive day, as coaches will compare your results to other players’ results to see who can give the most on game days. Understanding the types of tests, you will take part in allows you to prepare appropriately.
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