Why Consistency is Key in Hockey Training

I’m going to switch gears here this week from sports science theory and talk a bit about one of the most important concepts any REAL athlete or coach will tell you that you need in order to reach your potential.

That is consistency and remaining consistent with everything that you do.

1. Your meal plan.
2. Your training periodization.
3. Not missing workouts.
4. Not missing meals.
5. Not missing games.
6. Not missing practices.
7. Getting a good night’s rest.
8. Your effort in the gym.
9. Writing down and keeping track of all your progress.
10. Not skipping meal prep and giving yourself excuses like “I just needed something quick”

Each one of these things on a day-to-day basis may not come across as impactful.

If I miss one meal, no big deal right?

If I didn’t train today, I can always make up for it tomorrow.

And in the small picture, you’re correct, that’s not a big deal. But these small actions done (or not done) exceptionally well over a period of time accumulate and create a much bigger picture.

If you remain consistent and perform the required actions every day in order to be the best hockey player you can be, things may not change in the beginning. But if you keep up these everyday actions; one day passes, two days pass, one week passes, six months passes — then by the time you reach these greater numbers it will be of no surprise to the world that your accumulated actions have created something much bigger for you.

It could be muscle mass, fat loss, skill work, speed development, power development, improving your shot accuracy, anything at all. Consistency in both the big things and the little things brings real progress to anything you want to develop in your game or physique.

For example, let’s take the average guy who wants to get in shape and improve his game on the ice. Let’s call him Joe, good ol’ average Joe.

Joe currently plays on a hockey team but he doesn’t exactly stand out on the ice as a star player but he’s also not bad either, mid-tier guy that the team likes to have around because he can do his job.

Joe not only wants to be a star player on the ice, but he also wants to make it up to the next level in competition as well — maybe get in the semi-pro leagues. So his plan is to get in great physical shape and become a better hockey player.

From here, Joe starts eating what he believes to be healthy but he never really ran it across any sport nutrition specialist, and even still he has some beers and nachos a couple times a week as a reward for being what he perceives to be good. He also started up a workout in a magazine he saw and figured it would be a good starting point.

The workout motivation comes and goes, some weeks he shows up when he is supposed to and other weeks he doesn’t and the eating stays the same, just choosing clean options when he can and maybe throwing a few supplements in there too hoping they will actually do what they say they do on the bottle.

After about 12 months’ time, he’s gotten a little bit stronger in the gym but still sees other guys there who started at the same time as him lifting much more. Joe also might have put on a little size as well but it isn’t noticeable all the time, just when he’s training. His body fat percentage hasn’t really changed a whole lot over the year either, he thinks he just added a little bit of extra muscle underneath the layer of fat he always had.

After the year has passed, Joe sits down and thinks to himself “Man, I ate right ALL year and trained ALL year and I am not getting better and am still not a stand-out player on the ice”

What do you think Joe did right?

Also, what do you think Joe did wrong?

Lastly, do you know anybody who shares Joe’s story or some of his story?

I see players come and go with this type of strategy all the time so I’ll tell you what I think Joe did right, and what I think he did wrong.

Let’s start with what he did right.

Joe already had the tools to be a good hockey player even without the sharpened nutrition and training regime. He was a solid, mid-tier guy who the team liked to have around because he does his job out on the ice.

From my perspective as a strength and conditioning coach, this is very solid because Joe essentially isn’t doing a lot of things right outside of hockey and yet he is still a good hockey player, so once he does start to do some of those other things more consistently there is much more room for development.

Another thing he did right was have the motivation to better himself. Nobody told him he had to change his eating or his exercise and he was going to train with or without a training partner. He didn’t need to have anybody there for motivation. That’s fantastic, that’s somebody who is ready to make some changes.

Now on to the things that had he put some more thought into it, could have turned out a little different for him.

First off he never actually set any goals or deadlines for himself. He kind of just said “I want to get better so I’m going to hit the gym”. Although this is a step in the right direction, he has no variables in which to measure progress and also no targets in his sights. In order to get better with either your body composition or your given sport you need to set goals and create a plan in order to reach those goals.

What separates training from exercise is a systematic approach to achieve a given goal. If you’re in the gym with no targets in mind, you’re just exercising, not training.

When goal setting, you want to be specific as well or else it’s completely meaningless.

“I want to gain muscle”

Means absolutely nothing.

How much muscle?


You want to build muscle on your toes? Chest? Arms?

When should it be done by?

Even the classic response of…

“I want to put on 10lbs of muscle”

Still means nothing. When? This year? Or when your 65 years old? Set a deadline!

Joe didn’t set deadlines for himself. Deadlines are one of the most motivating tools you have at your disposal, think about the times in people’s lives when they get the most work done:

• Studying for an exam
• Getting a project done
• Getting that business proposal done at your job
• Presentations
• Wedding plans
• Getting in shape for a vacation

All of these examples are tied to deadlines, deadlines fuel people to work hard and make things happen no matter what.

“I want to put on 10lbs of muscle by the end of this offseason”

Now we are finally talking!

Now you have a goal, have a deadline, and also have a measurable way in which to track your progress. Goal setting and deadlines breed success. Nobody got anywhere if they didn’t think about exactly what they wanted and when they wanted it by.

So now we know Joe probably should have been clearer with himself about what he wanted and when he wanted it. Without goals or deadlines, there’s no blood in the game. Nothing is forcing you to really truly go for it, and on top of that, you don’t exactly know what you’re going for or have any way to measure if you’re doing it well or not.

Come on Joe, what are you thinking man!

You’re a great guy, but there’s a lot of holes in your strategy here.

Beyond this, Joe didn’t seek some professional advice. This is a fatal mistake.

This is a problem I see a lot of, not just in hockey strength and conditioning, but honestly with most people in the gym. Everybody knows somebody who has been in the gym for several years and still doesn’t look the way they want to look.

Why is this?

They don’t seek professional advice. By the time several years has rolled around, you should have made substantial, major progress — no matter who you are.

Any expert (who isn’t trying to sell you some ridiculous supplement) is going to tell you to not think short term. You can’t put on a crazy amount of muscle in a few months, you can’t get totally shredded in no time, and you damn well can’t become an NHL hockey player overnight.

Success requires consistency, there are no quick fixes. Ever.

If quick fixes were the way it worked, I wouldn’t have a job and everybody reading this blog would already be jacked, lean, and in the NHL.

But unfortunately that’s not how it works.

Seeking professional advice is a must if you want to stand out on the ice more. If you’re totally happy with where you’re at and just want to exercise a bit for the health benefits and maybe get a little carryover to the ice — then by all means, go for it. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

But, if you want to become a better hockey player through improving your physique, strength, and stamina in a meaningful way; the quickest and most effective way to do that is going to be seeking professional assistance with both your meal plan design and your training.

Joe tried to “wing” both of these, pulling a workout out of a magazine and then not talking to anybody about his eating. Just trying to “clean it up” with what he knew how to do.

Not exactly a good strategy to make it to the next level in competition. Some people or coaches like to say things like:

“Nutrition is 80% and training is 20%”

That’s all nonsense in my mind. In reality nutrition is 100% and training is 100%. They both need to be present in their most complete forms to drive the best results.

You can have a great training plan, but if your nutrition is crap I promise you, your results will be limited drastically.

Likewise, you can have a perfect nutrition plan, but if your training sucks or is a bodybuilding system that is totally non-conducive to hockey performance you won’t get results either.

You need both training and nutrition, there is no 80/20 theory. Training in the gym creates the stimulus and what you do outside the gym governs how well you adapt to that stimulus. Both need to be there, there is no one without the other — they work in synergy and must both be optimized.

Hockey strength training and nutrition are two huge worlds all on their own that professionals dedicate their lives to. In sports physiology the research never ends, you can research your entire life. So when the average person tries to create their own training plan and nutrition system you can get a grasp of how much they are missing out on or how much more customized those plans could be to maximize the results to their current lifestyle and schedule.

If you do a ton of your own research on your own time, you might be able to pull it off. But most people have jobs, families, and school on top of doing hockey as well which leaves time for research somewhat limited for optimal gains. That is, if you know how to properly read and interpret real research in the first place.

Needless to say, when you go with a real professional you can get real results now, instead of maybe.

Now let’s revisit the consistency list above:

1. Your meal plan.
2. Your training periodization.
3. Not missing workouts.
4. Not missing meals.
5. Not missing games.
6. Not missing practices.
7. Getting a good night’s rest.
8. Your effort in the gym.
9. Writing down and keeping track of all your progress.
10. Not skipping meal prep and giving yourself excuses like “I just needed something quick”

Good ol’ Joe unfortunately didn’t hit many of these, we can only maybe give him check marks for games, practices and good night’s sleep. The rest was unfortunately left inconsistent and the results showed by the end of the year. And we didn’t even touch on the beer and nachos part…

This is a lot of things to remain consistent with but it is a required action if reaching your potential and making it to the next level of competition are in your priorities.

On the surface it seems obvious right?

These things all sound pretty good and it would make sense to stick with them.

But that’s normally where peoples thought process ends on the topic and although that’s the jist of it, it truly loses its weight and power if that’s the deepest you look into it. In reality, being consistent has many different levels on which it can help you not only reach your current potential but also reach your maximum potential.

Think of the list above like bricks, and then listen to Will Smith.

“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” – Will Smith

Keep training hard guys!

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