Floor level shot of hockey player sliding on their side, head first towards the camera

Creating a top-notch training program is essential for taking your team to higher levels of performance and making more than the perfect pass. Cultivating a fun, positive, and focused environment will make your training center the one everyone wants to be a part of and your team the talk of the town.

A well-rounded program includes on-ice and off-ice practice and skills training as well as continued development in the off-season. Developing a winning system takes a commitment to fundamentals, age-specific training, intentionality, and strong leadership.

At KwikRink Synthetic Ice, we partner with coaches and cities to provide training and competition surfaces for all levels of hockey players. Check out our website to learn how we can be a part of your top-notch training program.

Hockey goal lit up in a dark arena

Set Your Goals and Expectations

Before starting any training program, it’s essential to assess the needs, abilities, and goals of the team and the individuals. These assessments should include your hopes, expectations, and priorities not only for the team but also for yourself.

You should determine how many times per week you will be training, how long the seasons (off-season, pre-season, in-season) will last, and how much time you need to develop the skills and tactics you desire.

Time management on and off the ice will be especially helpful for staying on course. Create a team calendar and clarify expectations for your team. It can also be beneficial to give each player a list of things you expect from them, such as a positive attitude, outstanding work ethic, commitment to skills training, etc.

Safety First

Always remember that in all training, safety should be first. A hockey player who isn’t suited up won’t be able to perform or develop. Keep up to date with the medical history of your players, be knowledgeable on equipment, facilities, and emergency protocols for practices and games.

Keeping the players healthy should be your top priority. You must be careful not to overtrain or cause burnout, mainly depending on the age of your team. You can also include guidelines about what they should be doing outside of training – sleep, nutrition, game study, etc.

Choose age-appropriate training methods and scale progression plans up or down based on feedback from their performance. The easiest way to categorize your players is Beginner (< 1-year experience), Intermediate (>1 year), and Advanced (multiple years playing).

You can find age-specific training guidelines here.

Shot of hockey players skates and sticks only during indoor arena game

Skills and Movement Training

Your skills training should start with teaching and building on the fundamentals. Foundational skills include passing and receiving, skating, puck control and protection, stickhandling, shooting, and checking.

Quality movement should be a top priority – players who move well by default (skating especially) can then focus on more advanced tasks at hand. Strength training methods should focus on mobility, stability, and transfer of power, especially for the hips and core.

Strength, speed, and movement training will be developed mostly in the off-season. Movements like squats, deadlifts, lateral lunges, rows, push-ups and pull-ups, planks, and side planks should be the primary focus as you develop hockey-specific strength.

Once this is covered, it’s time to work on speed and power development, acceleration, first step, and conditioning specific to hockey.

It’s your job to continually monitor the development of your players and adjust the components of practice based on this feedback. Utilize both successes and failures; both can be great teachers.

Tactics and Drills

Preparation is key to building confidence and getting your team to perform and execute at high levels. A correctly implemented training plan, practice, and game schedule will help your players learn and grow in the ways you want them to.

Focusing on the same concepts for consecutive practices will help your team grasp the ideas you are teaching. Spend additional time on anything that is stalling development or creating issues, especially in games.

Drills might include small-sided games, working in the offensive and defensive zones, backchecking, forechecking, and creating offense. The penalty kill and power play units will also need your attention.

Some example focus areas:

  •   Forward and backward skating
  •   Skating with and without the puck
  •   Passing and receiving
  •   Shooting and creating shots
  •   Blocking shots
  •   Chasing loose pucks
  •   Winning 1-on-1 battles
  •   Working off the puck

Situational drills and position-specific (goalie, defense, center, forward) teaching will enhance the players individually and help them see how the team works together as a whole. Playing games is another way to teach teamwork concepts.

Races, relays, and other competitions can instill some fun into the practice. Even playing other sports like juggling a soccer ball or playing team handball can get your team’s creative energies flowing.

I hockey players taking a knee on the ice to listen to trainer

Culture and Leadership

Creating the right kind of environment starts with leadership. The values, expectations, and priorities that you instill in your players and larger organization will determine the levels of your success.

Communicating the what, how, and why will help create a winning culture. Determine what values, skills, and tactics you want to emulate, how the players will demonstrate them, and the bigger purpose behind your mission. A properly formulated “why” can help you get your players to “buy-in” to what you are asking of them.

Cultivating positive relationships with players and parents is imperative to building trust and confidence. Communication and honesty go along with maintaining a positive, learning-friendly environment. If your players feel that they can trust you, they are much more likely to listen to your advice and receive your coaching.

Make sure to also address life outside of hockey – emphasize open and honest communication about successes and frustrations, injuries, and other areas pertinent to their overall health. Open communication shows that you care about them just as much as an individual, not only as a hockey player.

Putting It All Together

Developing the best hockey training program takes intentionality and commitment. If you put safety first, focus on fundamentals, develop skills, and create an environment where your players can learn and grow, your program will stand out above the rest.

Check out our website for more resources and let KwikRink Synthetic Ice help you make the perfect pass to creating your best hockey environment and training program.

KwikRink Synthetic Ice practice goal

Most people mistakenly believe it takes millions of dollars to open and run their own business. While you certainly can spend as much money as you want building and operating a new organization, it’s just as easy to launch a business with low start-up costs and a fun operations model, like a synthetic ice rink rent business.

With hockey programming on the rise nation-wide, a portable synthetic ice rink in your community can offer a turn-key avenue to year-round hockey training and a reliable revenue stream.

Your business ownership adventure begins with an expertly crafted business plan. Let’s break down how to write one that helps you launch your synthetic ice rink rent service with confidence.

KwikRink Synthetic Ice offers a versatile, low-maintenance, all-weather ice product customized to any space and size. Visit our website today for a free rink analysis and quote. We’ll help you build a profitable rink rental business with superior products and support.

Two hands pointing to a histogram and other papers with post-it notes

Start at the end and work your way backward

An effective business plan begins with a comprehensive executive summary. You’ll write a bird’s eye view of what your business will look like in the first few years of operation.

However, this section of your business plan is the last step to complete. There’s a bit of groundwork to tackle before you can “tell the story” of your business in a captivating way.

Instead, start with the following elements, and compile them as you go:

  • Market research: What is the potential demand for synthetic ice rink rent in your community? You’ll want to check out existing family, youth, and adult programming at churches, community centers, schools, and other gathering places to determine if there’s a programming gap your synthetic ice rink can fill.

Other places to research include:

    • local charities and businesses (for fundraising events), and
    • the youth birthday party market where you live. A synthetic rink can be a unique event idea for more than just hockey programs.

Do your diligence to clarify all the places where your rink can service your local population.

    • Competition: Are there any other skating programs in your area? This may be more of a concern if you live in snowy places where skating is the norm. If you live in a warmer climate, you may not have as many skating programs competing for a share of the local market.
    • Start-up costs: your business plan should list every cost associated with launching your rink rental business, including:
      • Capital purchase: the rink, fencing, and other equipment like skates, hockey sticks, protective gear, mats, and anything else you’ll be offering as part of your rink rental service. At KwikRink, we can kit you out like the pro you are so your service stands out as professional and comprehensive.
      • Insurance: A small business owner needs a couple of policies in place for complete peace of mind.  Consider getting a property policy which protects your rink and equipment from damages, disasters like weather or fire, and theft. You will also need a liability policy to protect you in the event of a lawsuit from someone getting hurt while on your rink or using your equipment.
      • Monthly fixed and variable costs: If you rent a storage space for your rink tiles, that’s an example of a fixed monthly cost.  If you hire other people to help you install and tear down your rink at different venues, those could be variable costs depending on how much labor you need for each rental gig. Brainstorm all the regular costs associated with running your rink rental service, and compile them in your business plan.

Pen laying on spreadsheet of numbers

  • Financing: How will you raise the money to start your rink rental business? There are several options for getting start-up cash:
  • Personal savings
    • Small business loans: Check your local Small Business Association or your bank for more information on financing for small businesses. Some cities and regions have additional financing resources for minority owners in many demographics.
    • Business lines of credit: This is essentially a credit card dedicated for business expenses.
    • Crowdfunding: Using a website like gofundme.com can help you create campaigns to raise money for specific projects related to your rink rental business. You can get super creative on your fundraising goals and how to ask for and incentivize various levels of giving.  For example, if a donor gives several hundred dollars to your campaign, perhaps you reward them with a free ice skating party for their family and friends.
  • Cash flow: Now we get to the good part, which is making money.  What’s your plan for generating revenue once you have your rink? How much will you charge for your services? Your ability to generate rental gigs and profits will depend on several factors:
    • Pricing your services wisely (making sure you charge enough to balance your costs and have a healthy profit margin while not being too expensive that customers can’t afford you.)
    • Networking
    • Existing relationships
    • Local marketing (offline strategies)
    • Digital marketing (your website, social media, and online paid advertising)

You’ll need to have a solid strategy in place for at least 12 months of marketing and revenue forecasting. It’s a good idea to include a best- and worst-case scenario in your business plan and how you’ll manage each of them, knowing that your actual results will likely fall in the middle of the two.

Business people with papers arranged on desk w/ multiple post-it notes

Pull it all together

Now that you’ve done all your homework, you can compile your executive summary. Tell the story of your synthetic rink rental business.

Detail what it is, why you’re launching it, what your needs are financially and physically, as well as how you plan to finance your start-up and begin to generate revenue, and eventually, profit.

KwikRink Synthetic Ice is your partner in innovative small business operations. Our professional staff provides an expert resource as you gear up to offer expanded, all-weather skating in your community.

We’ll help you design your rental rink for the highest functionality and convenience, as well as years of low-maintenance reliability in our synthetic ice products. Call us today to help launch your, ahem, “leading-edge” rink rental service.

Female athlete, bottom of feet to camera, resting on a dandelion mixed lawn

If you have a budding hockey star at home, the off-season is a critical time in their development. Make sure your player has all the tools they need to succeed in their training endeavors.

In the off-season, your aspiring athlete should focus on strength and power movements, conditioning specifically to hockey, and honing their stick handling skills. Training should help boost confidence and enhance performance as they prepare for the upcoming season.

If you are looking to build an at-home practice facility, our synthetic hockey ice may be the perfect investment for your young hockey player. Enjoy more time at home and enjoy the ability to train year-round. They can simulate skating drills and other training exercises without having to reserve ice time or travel anywhere else.

Check out KwikRink for more information about turning your garage, basement, or extra space into a high-level training environment.

Creating your off-season training plan

When your current season has come to an end, it is important to take a couple of weeks off from intense training to focus on rest and recovery. For the initial 2-4 weeks after the last game, you should mend any nagging injuries and give their body a full recovery.

This time of recovery should be a mental and physical break from the structured environment of the season. Activities can include playing other sports recreationally (especially ones that involve hand-eye coordination), doing yoga or other forms of flexibility training, and light cardio and conditioning such as jogging, hiking, swimming, or biking.

Scott Caufield, Coaching Education Manager of the National Strength and Conditioning Association says, “Take a break, enjoy time with your friends, enjoy a vacation with the family, and don’t think about anything related to their sport. It’s a good chance to just play, ride a bike, have fun, whatever it is.”

Lower half of young man in yellow shirt, black shorts, running across a pedestrian bridge

Off-season conditioning

After a few recovery weeks, you should begin dry-land/off-ice and some on-ice forms of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.

Hockey is played at a fast pace with quick substitutions that are on the fly. The shifts are short and intense, and rest is also limited. It is crucial to train in ways that are similar to what you will be experiencing on the ice, as well as develop a strong aerobic base that will provide optimal recovery between training sessions, practices, and games.

Most of the game is spent in the anaerobic (meaning without oxygen) training zones, utilizing the phosphagen and glycolytic systems to create energy. These energy systems deplete rapidly and must be replenished with adequate rest to keep up power and endurance.

Guidelines from the National Strength and Conditioning Association say:

To train anaerobic capacity:

  • Use short sprint intervals – 10-30 seconds with a 1:3 or 1:4 work-to-rest ratio (sprint 10seconds, rest 30-40 seconds),
  • Start with a few sets and progress each week over the off-season

To train aerobic capacity:

  • Use longer intervals with less intensity – 30seconds up to 3 minutes with 1:1 or longer work-to-rest ratios
  • Use slower runs or bouts of activity 20 minutes or longer

You can use various modes to achieve these intensities – running, biking, rowing, slide board, and of course, skating.

Black and silver hand dumbbell, red towel, white water bottle on floor of a fitness center

Off-season strength training

When designing a strength training program, it’s helpful to know what types of exercises to include and which movements take priority. You should focus on fundamental movement patterns and building mobility, stability, and proper technique.

Dan Meinz, also of the NSCA, says, “In order to prepare a player for the season effectively, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the demands of the sport. Skating requires powerful legs, strong hips, and a stable torso to allow efficient transfer of force from the body to the ice.”

Your focus should be to develop transferable strength and power and to stay injury-free. This will help you skate faster, hit harder, play quicker, and become more resilient.

Mobility and flexibility training, especially for the hips and core, will help you move well on and off the ice. Strength training should also focus on the hips and core and include upper body training as well to help you hold your own on the ice.

Movements like squats, deadlifts, lunges (especially lateral ones), rows, push-ups, and pull-ups all make up a sound full-body approach to strength training. Start with your own body weight and then add other forms of resistance – dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.

Train the core through full ranges of motion and incorporate varying challenges to stability and balance. Planks, side planks, bird dogs, med ball throws, and cable chops can develop hockey-specific core strength and stability to be nimble on your skates and absorb hits.

Power and plyometric movements such as broad jumps and medicine ball throws can build the explosive strength you need to shoot a puck or make a dash to the blue line.

Once you have mastered these fundamentals, you can start incorporating more advanced methods and more complex movements. Speak with a personal trainer or strength coach to ensure you are covering all the bases and won’t get hurt. Your team may have their own coaches as well.

Male hockey player in black/white/yellow practice uniform on ice rink waiting for a pass

Off-season skills training

Skills training should go along with your strength training and conditioning in preparing for the upcoming season. There are many training drills and small-area games that can be valuable.

Passing, receiving, shooting, and stickhandling drills can all be added to your repertoire. You may want to utilize a shooting pad and shooting target. This is another area where a synthetic rink could do wonders for your training!

Passing and receiving drills work best with a partner, and playing small-sides games with a couple of friends can be fun and beneficial. Games such as Monkey in the Middle, Keep Away can also be included to add a more dynamic environment.

There are some great resources usahockey.com, and hockeyshare.com that include all sorts of stickhandling, puck control, shooting, and skating drills to practice.

Try to perform drills daily and spend lots of time with the puck. The important thing is to be consistent and intentional with your training. Honing your skills will help you stand out at tryouts and show your coaches that you have put in the work in the off-season.

Improve your conditioning, strength, and skills

A well-designed off-season training program can help reduce injuries, improve your strength and conditioning levels, and take your game skills to the next level. Check out our blog for more helpful hockey and skating tips!