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As a sport that requires speed and power, hockey is known for hard-hitting collisions and even violence among players that often lead to injuries.


Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team

Hockey combines bouts of high-speed acceleration and direction changes with hard physical contact. A typical shift on the ice can last as long as 1-2 minutes of near maximal effort, so your training should reflect that.

In general, a good strength and conditioning program for a hockey player should combine traditional strength training exercises such as squats and shoulder presses with explosive movements such as plyometric jumps and Olympic-type lifts. One often overlooked aspect in many strength and conditioning programs is both rotational and lateral motion strength. These are especially important in hockey.

Some of the most common injuries in hockey players are muscle strains in the hip/groin area. Along with strength training, a good flexibility program that focuses on the hip rotators and hip flexors should be a key aspect of your program to help prevent injury.

For cardiovascular conditioning, avoid steady, long-duration activities such as jogging or stationary bike programs. These activities are good for endurance sports, but for hockey, you need anaerobic conditioning activities such as shuttle runs (sprint and agility drills that last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes followed by a relative rest period).

Preventing Injuries

To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:

  • Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to play.
  • Warm up and stretch before and after you play.
  • Use only up-to-date and properly fitting equipment. Helmets and facemasks will help protect you from serious head injuries, padding can minimize fractures, and properly fitting skates will help prevent sprains and strains.
  • If you are injured, do not try to push through your injury. Always consult a medical professional before you resume playing.
  • Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly ones statistically prone to injury.
  • Consult with your coach or athletic trainer about ways to prevent overuse injuries like stress fractures and tendonitis.

Common Injuries

Arm & Elbow

  • Medial elbow ligament tears
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Thrower’s Elbow/Golfer’s Elbow

Hand & Wrist

Leg & Knee

  • Meniscal tear
  • Muscle strain or pull

Injury Statistics

More than 47,000 people were treated at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and emergency rooms for ice-skating injuries in 2014.1

The rate of injury during games for men and women was significantly higher than the rate of injury during practice.2

Injuries occur more commonly at the start of the season.3

The head and face, finger/thumb, knee, ankle, and thigh are the most common areas of injury.3


Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.


1 US Consumer Product Safety Commission
2 “A 7-year review of men’s and women’s ice hockey injuries in the NCAA,” National Center for Biotechnology Information
3 “Hockey Fact Sheet,” Sports Medicine Australia
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