Youth Conditioning Drills (without the Bag Skate)

When I grew up playing hockey through the 90s, our conditioning came through grueling skating drills, like full ice bag skates at full speed or doing drills such as lines (or sometimes known as a ladder drill).

Today, we don’t see this utilized as much – and for good reason. USA Hockey’s ADM system recommends getting away from bag skates, but also for younger skaters, they simply are not fun and will lead to practices kids don’t want to participate in, and at the end of the day, they don’t teach much. We don’t need to bag these kids to build stamina. Instead, we can put better conditioning into drills. Doing this allows coaches to make the most of ice time, and still focus on conditioning.

In his Virtual Hockey Summit presentation titled How to integrate conditioning into your practice plan, coach Doug Crashley lays out three ways to work conditioning into your practice plan. While he spends time focusing on measurement, something I don’t think is necessary at the youth level, his advice on bringing in conditioning drills are worth paying attention to. 

You can achieve this conditioning through off-ice work, and then my favorite, game play or game like drills. These are ones we can easily bring into youth level practices and keep practice fun, while heavily focused on conditioning and development.

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