10 Steps to Better Hockey Performance

Within my videos, podcasts, and articles, I’ve tried to present hockey players with something new, logical, hockey-specific, well-researched, and actionable on a weekly basis for many years now. 

However, it dawned on me recently that I have yet to create a “putting it all together” segment so that you, the motivated hockey player, can create a high-quality and complete approach to improving your performance. 

I have created a ten step outline below that will act as your “cheat sheet” each time you set your sights on a new goal, so I can help you reach it in the fastest, safest, healthiest, and most effective way possible. 

Before we get into the first step, you need to ask yourself why you are here. 

Why do you train? 

That question is worthy of deep contemplation, but it is so obvious that it is overlooked and forgotten about as an integral part of beginning your journey—or worse, it’s completely neglected and not filtered through our self-awareness at all. 

Study the question, answer it, and you’ll revive and re-energize your love and purpose for training. We can all use a motivational kick in the butt sometimes. It is imperative to regularly recall, review, and revitalize our hockey training purposes, reasons, and goals. 

If you’re like most people, there is more than one reason why you train. That number of reasons can grow as we think about it and continue to pursue our goals. The list is both simple and complex, and looks a little something like this:

  1. Improve conditioning 
  2. Lose fat
  3. Build muscle
  4. Improve health and career longevity  
  5. Increase energy
  6. Become functionally stronger
  7. Resist injury 
  8. Recover from injury
  9. Improve explosive speed 
  10. Maximize agility 
  11. Get stronger on the puck
  12. Enhance shot power
  13. Improve all-around athleticism 
  14. Prepare for tryouts, camps, and a successful in-season
  15. Improve confidence
  16. Do edgework drills for better technical skating and efficiency
  17. Upgrade your “Hockey IQ” 
  18. Attain better hockey-specific mobility 

(There’s plenty more room here on this list for your personal favorite if I missed it!)     

Every purpose listed is valid; some overlap, while others are quite distinct. Training for them, separately or in combinations, requires sets and reps, work, time, patience, and sacrifice. That is the minimum entry ticket for participation. From there, your contribution escalates as the purposes grow in significance and number. 

What reasons on the list for training do you most identify with? 

I am a maniac, so I’m all over the list. My training desires and demands have been substantial throughout my life—meaning loads of sets and reps, work, time, meal prep, and sacrifice were required to reach my goals. 

As training importance grows, so do liabilities. Frustration, disappointment, fatigue, injury, exercise confusion, and nutritional confusion all rise in direct proportion to training importance—and good ol‘ life becomes a good ol‘ struggle. Of course, the flipside is that you’ll grow stronger, leaner, and more confident, and bring with you to the ice the unbreakable vitality you’ve earned through fighting the good fight. A good win after a long fight creates real men and women.

With your “why in mind, let’s look at the ten steps below so you can place your effort and involvement in all the right places at the right time. This helps us define who we are—and just as importantly, what we’re up against.  

Step 1: Decide What You Want

Don’t skip this step—and be honest with yourself

Saying “I just want to get better” might get you points with your friends at lunch, but it is a far cry from legitimate goal setting. 

You need to have a clear vision, because if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there. 

Watch this short video I recorded to help you get on the path to success right from the beginning:

Step 2: Determine How You Got to Be Where You Currently Are

I hear this constantly: “I just can’t seem to get lean, no matter what I do.”

But when I ask these people about their diet, the response is: “I don’t bother tracking, I just eat a lot of ‘good food’ and take XYZ supplements. And, I take weekends off from good eating.” 

Your body doesn’t lie: your current condition is a direct reflection of your choices and priorities in life. Too often, there’s a simple disconnect between goals and behaviors. But before you can remedy it, you first have to recognize and accept it. 

If it’s been a long time since you’ve achieved the goals you set for yourself, it’s time to get real about your commitments and stop trying to wing it.

Step 3: Determine the Time Commitment You Can Stick To

Assess where you spend the most valuable currency you have: your time. 

There are only so many hours in the day. If you set unrealistic goals in Step 1 (like saying you’re going to train 12 times per week and still expect to shop, meal prep, take care of the kids, work, and manage life stressors), then something is eventually going to give, and you’ll be right back where you started. 

Intensity doesn’t get results—consistency does. 

Manage your time effectively and set goals that are realistic for your current lifestyle, schedule, and commitment level. 

Step 4: Manage Your Stress

This is a big one that many hockey players miss. 

Building muscle, losing fat, and becoming an all-around better hockey player are much easier to do when stress is kept at manageable levels. There’s always a tipping point, and if you’re already running close to the red line now, adding a comprehensive program into the mix is only going to set you up for burnout. 

I don’t want you to abandon your goals; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I want you to stop procrastinating on the things that are currently stressing you out so that you can organize your life in a way where you feel in control.

Not to mention, exercise is a stress reliever, and better nutrition will combat many of the ailments that come with chronically high stress levels. 

If you need help in this department, I’ve got your back here.

Step 5: Set Your Calories

While calories aren’t everything in terms of fat loss/muscle gain, they’re certainly near the top of the list. To gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you expend. And to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. 

Here are some great equations to start with:

Fat loss: Body weight in pounds x 14  
Maintenance: Body weight in pounds x 15
Muscle gain: Body weight in pounds x 16

To break through plateaus, you simply adjust the number by one step. For example, if you lost five pounds on the base fat loss equation but then have stayed stagnant for the past three weeks, move the equation to a 13 multiplier. 

The same is true for muscle gain. If you gained six pounds on the base muscle gain equation but have since remained stable with your weight, bump it up to a 17 multiplier. 

Typically when dieting for fat loss, you should go back to maintenance for two weeks every 8–10 weeks to reset your metabolism. 

However, for muscle gain, you can continue going upward until you have reached a certain body fat percentage. I recommend men not exceed 15% body fat on a bulk, and women not exceed 25%. Going above those numbers creates a hormonal environment unfavorable for continuing to add lean muscle mass—not to mention it tanks your hockey performance. 

If you are currently above those body fat percentages, you need to do a cut first before you do a bulk, as you will get much better results this way. 

If you want to learn more about exact calorie counting for hockey, I did a podcast you should check out here

Step 6: Set Your Macronutrients

Next, we need to break that calorie level down into the macronutrients that build it up. 

Protein = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram

There are many ways to spin this; however, I’ve found these to be the most effective equations for getting to your desired result in the fastest possible way. 

Fat loss:
Protein: 1.5g per pound of body weight
Fat: 25% of total calories
Carbohydrates: Whatever is left over after the above two calculations 

Protein: 1.2g per pound of body weight
Fat: 25% of total calories 
Carbohydrates: Whatever is left over after the above two calculations 

Muscle gain:
Protein: 1g per pound of body weight
Fat: 25% of total calories
Carbohydrates: Whatever is left over after the above two calculations

Now, hockey players with a high body fat percentage and/or those above 40 years old often lose fat better on lower carbs and higher fat. For gaining, however, carbs are hard to beat. But again, there is considerable variance here, so you’re going to need to listen to the signals of your body, while still remaining in the world of hockey-specific nutrition.

For a deep dive on fat loss nutrition for hockey, you can benefit from watching a full lecture I did on the topic:

And if it’s muscle gain you want, I did an equally comprehensive lecture:

Step 7: Eat High-Quality Food

You can lose fat on fast food and candy if your calories are below maintenance—but just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. 

Junk food is still junk.

It lacks key micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, etc.) while being extremely high in calories, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and various processed food additives. Put another way: it takes up a lot of your calorie budget while offering almost nothing in return. 

Plus, a steady diet of healthy, nutrient-dense foods makes the body look, feel, and perform better, no matter what the scale says. 

I recommend 10% of your calories go to “fun” or “free” foods. This is a good balance that still ensures you can reach your goals. 

Step 8: Create a Meal Plan Menu

Don’t overcomplicate this: you need to work meals around your schedule and not vice versa. 

I do recommend allocating protein and carbohydrates around the workout, practice and game windows, like I discuss here

Contrary to popular opinion, when working with my elite one-on-one clientele, I don’t recommend a lot of “variety” at first, except for spices and condiments. You need to get in a pattern, own it, then tweak from there as you see fit. 

Consistency is infinitely more important than variety here. Build the foundational habits first in your meal prep and eating schedule before switching everything around. 

Step 9: Start Tracking

You don’t need to log every macro and rep you perform into fancy software. 

However, you should have some type of tracking system in place so you know the ship is steered in the right direction in an objective way. 

I recommend printing your workouts out and creating a training journal that you bring with you to the gym so you can accurately measure and see the progression (or lack thereof) you’re making on a week-to-week basis to guarantee that you’re presenting yourself a consistent overload stimulus. 

Additionally, in the Hockey Training Community, we hold each other accountable for the goals we set each and every single month. The “look back/look forward” goal setting approach Kevin has in place for everybody works phenomenally (for myself included). 

Join the community and introduce yourself in the “Say Hello” section; we’ve got your back. 

Step 10: Get on a Hockey Training Program

Workouts don’t get results—programs do. 


Because biology responds to averages over time. Meaning, you never “get results” from a single workout, or even a few weeks of training. Instead, biology responds to longer “big picture” programming that is properly scheduled over the course of many months.

If physiological adaptation happened instantaneously, then strength and conditioning coaches wouldn’t exist, because everyone could just do the random workouts they see online and get great results. 

NHL players hire strength and conditioning coaches year-round. This is not an accident; instead, they understand that proper programming over the long-term is what drives world-class results.

If nothing else, I hope this causes you to raise an eyebrow the next time you hear a coach boast about drumming up a workout in five minutes between clients. Because any coach who claims this is grossly negligent or a straight-up fraud.

A program is a serious commitment—but in turn, you get serious results. 

That’s why we provide an entire library of elite programs within the Skills Accelerator program utilizing our AC3-System™.

Join the Skills Accelerator System, hop on a professionally designed hockey program, and we’ll help you customize it to your exact needs and provide you with the personal motivation and support you need every step of the way. 

Your entire life will change once you stop “exercising” and start training. The difference between those two is found in a real program design. 

Final Thoughts

Now you’re set. 

You have the exact diagnostic checklist you need to put yourself through to guarantee you get elite hockey performance results. 

Develop the foundations one day and one block at a time, and then go for the first floor and the second of upward construction. Build a skyscraper, build a bridge. Use your will, your back, your guts and your mind. That’s why you have them: to apply, to grow, to dominate.

Let’s do this thing. 

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