The Best Warm Ups to do Before the Big Game
When hockey tournament season arrives, it means tons of preparation to be ready to help the team perform optimally. That means lots extra time on the ice – training, coaching and getting mentally prepared to take on your competitors.
Although players know they need to warm up, sometimes the added pressure of the upcoming tournaments and the tight schedules can mean a lackluster pre-game warm up. To make sure your hockey player is in top physical condition to take on the competition, we’ve pulled together a few tips to prepare for the next hockey tournament.
Pre-Game Warm Up
Doing a proper pre-game warm up is crucial for preparing your body for peak performance on the ice. Many players are so focused on the upcoming tournament; they don’t focus on preparing their body.
So, why is a pre-game warm up so important? It’s simple…
- Get your body ready for action on the ice – An effective pre-game warm up gets your heart rate and body temperature up and your nervous system ready. The warm up also gets your muscles and joint prepared and gives you a full range of motion for the big game.
- Reduce risk of injury – With a proper pre-game warm up which includes stretching, your muscles and joints are ready for the action. However, a weak warm-up can result in your body being more susceptible to injuries – knee/ankle sprains and legs/back/groin strains are common in hockey and even more likely without a proper warm up.
- Warms up your brain – A good warm up stimulates you brain which allows better focus and ability to deal with stress.
An effective pre-game workout includes focus on:
So, here are some key pre-game warm up areas you should focus on:
- Cardio – increases your heart rate and warms up muscles – pre-game skate, stationary bike or jog.
- Pre-game stretching – areas of particular focus include hamstrings, glutes, hip flexor, quads, shoulder, triceps, back, wrists, calves, and groin.
- Speed skating
- Passing and shooting drills
Check out this great video on pre-game preparation from Hockey Tutorial…
Tournament Day Nutrition
Nutrition is an often overlooked area of preparation at tournament time. Food and fluids are going to fuel your body so you can play to your potential.
Nutrition is important for hockey players throughout the season. However, we’ll focus on nutrition specifically leading up to “the big game” – How to Hockey has some great pre-game nutrition tips:
- Night Before the Game – Protein, lots of veggies and slow digestible carbs (beans/legumes, whole grains, nuts/seeds).
- The Morning of the Game – Big breakfast with limited fast acting carbs (you don’t want to carb crash). Start drinking lots of water – you are going to need a lot of it today.
- Game Afternoon – Slow acting carbs (pasta/rice) and protein. Lots of fluids.
- Pre-Game – About 2-3 hours before the game, easy-to-digest, slow acting carbs (whole wheat bagel or muffin). Keep up with the hydration.
- Post-Game – Right after the game, a fructose high snack (bananas, oranges, pineapple or grape juice) followed by a high protein meal, accompanied by slow acting carbs and veggies. This helps your body replenish energy and your muscle recovery.
Post-Game Cool Down
A proper post-game cool down is essential to help reduce the risk of injury. Start off with a cardio-focused cool down to bring your heart rate down. Slow laps on the ice, light jogging or even a stationary bike are ideal activities.
Cooling down and stretching your muscles so they are lengthened is also important. Performing stretching exercises similar to your pre-game warm up is best; focus on the same muscle groups: back, legs, hips etc. Also, focus on what your body is telling you – if you are feeling particularly tight in any part of your body, make sure to stretch that muscle group.
Effective Hockey Warm Ups and Cool Downs are Critical for Tournament Time
Proper warm up and cool down exercises are important to ensure you are at your best for hockey tournaments and once tournament season is over. Players need to focus on these exercises for the best results. An “it’s just the warm up” attitude makes for sloppy warm ups which delivers poor on-ice performance and increased risk of injury.
Parents and coaches should support and encourage effective hockey warm ups and cool downs by ensuring the players have the time they need to focus on this vital, but often snubbed step at hockey tournament time.
Did you catch our Hockey Tournament Weekend Survival Guide? We cover all the items that are often forgotten about in the rush of getting to the big game. We've even put together a Tournament Essentials Checklist that you can download here!