FIVE BENEFITS OF USING BOXING TO TRAIN HOCKEY TEAMS
This supplement in training has dramatically improved hockey athletes in their game. Several hockey teams have trained with the West End Athletic Club in boxing to improve their performance. This training caters to hockey players’ specific needs to optimize their strength, agility, and cardio.
“I’ve been to West End Athletic Club to train my team. They provide a very different, unique and intuitive workout for group players,” says former eight year hockey pro and 20 year tenured hockey coach, Josh Boni. This coach uses boxing to train his teams to optimize their performance.
So why is boxing a great fit to train hockey teams? Generally, boxing and hockey are in a similar spectrum regarding which muscle groups to use and how to use them. Both sports require great footwork and agility. Hockey may be a team sport, but each player needs to have their fitness in top shape to be an effective unit. Boxing requires the same level of fitness.
See how the two disciplines relate? Boxing can then be a great benefit to hockey players in their training. There are so many benefits to it, but let’s focus on the top five:
Footwork is the ability to move the feet independently and coordinate for a specific movement. Whether it’s a sprint or switching directions, proper footwork is a necessary skill in any physical sport.
Boxing trains the athlete to be light on their feet and instinctually coordinate their feet for sudden switches in direction and stance. Proper punching techniques require strong footwork for jabs and hooks to be efficient. And a boxer must maintain foot movement to remain ready for attacks and counterattacks.
This footwork training in boxing translates exceptionally with hockey footwork. Skaters need to maintain movement on the ice, consistently apply force on their feet for different actions while being ready for sudden directional changes when needed in a second.
The varied footwork training in boxing improves hockey players’ footwork on the ice. And the better the footwork, the more accessible everything else in the game becomes.
BALANCE AND AGILITY
Hockey requires a lot more balance than other sports since it takes place on ice. Moving around on the hard ground is difficult enough. Hockey takes it to another level. Even more, since it’s a fast-paced sport, players need to be agile to change their directions in a split moment, maneuvering themselves accordingly.
Boxing techniques are dedicated to balance and agility. Boxing’s movement drills develop balance by training athletes to be light footed and on their toes.
Improving agility is one of boxing’s greatest strengths. Being able to change momentum in a blink is what boxers constantly train for. Various drills improve agility, allowing players to shift momentum in different directions and other parts of their bodies.
These are excellent skills for hockey players since they use every muscle in their body throughout the game, moving in different directions. The skill to shift energy through their legs can mean the difference in overall performance.
IMPROVES REACTION TIME
Reaction time is a player’s ability to respond to a sudden action in the game quickly. It’s not just taking action. It also involves the instinct to decide which action to take. For boxers, it’s reacting to your opponent’s punch, is a weave or a block a better option? For hockey players, it could be responding to a body check. Should they pass the puck now or move and position beside the barriers?
Reaction time training is crucial in these sports. Boxing helps improve reaction. The nature of boxing constantly applies quick reaction times as punches are less than a meter away, with numerous possible combinations. In hockey, this translates into instinctual reaction when opponents are close or a swift decision to execute a play flawlessly amidst all the chaos.
!We had Coach Vinny teach our players defensive techniques for blocking punches. Using defensive techniques in certain situations for hockey can help. If a player tries to come hit you, you can bump them off with an arm or a forearm,” says Boni.
Having these techniques for defence will help you think and act quickly while on the ice.
INCREASE POWER IN MOVEMENT
In athletics, power is different from strength. Power is the rate a person can produce force. Strength can contribute to one’s power, but only partially. The rest are by muscle repetition and skill-based training.
Boxing is a power-based sport, similar to hockey. Boxers need to create an intense amount of force in their punches at a moment’s notice to win, just like hockey players, who need excellent power in their shots and body checks to be highly effective.
Boxing has a lot of power training that can directly apply to hockey, as the same muscle groups are focused on power improvement. Core training, plyometrics, and reactive training are some of the drills and regimens that include boxing and hockey—training for power in boxing supplements the same power training for hockey.
LOW-RISK HIGH-INTENSITY CARDIO
Boxing is one of the most cardio-intensive sports. Every round is meant to be high-intensity and full of burst movements. This kind of high-intensity cardio training perfectly fits hockey players to increase their stamina in the game without compromising power.
The best thing about boxing cardio is its low risk for injuries. You don’t want athletes to injure themselves during training. They need low-risk methods to train their endurance, a more controlled environment to minimize severe wear and tear to almost zero.
Boxing’s cardio training is significantly controlled for safety. Wraps and gloves prevent injury, and the movements are designed to be safe on the joints, especially on the knees. With this low-risk method, athletes can optimize their cardio training without fear of repercussions. In addition, the floor at the West End Athletic Club has a sprung floor system which is amazing to help prevent strain on the joints and muscles.
There are other disciplines, skills and techniques boxing can offer to hockey teams to get them in the best shape for their game.
Josh Boni uses boxing as a training modality because of its combination of strategic thinking with power movements that can be applied to hockey.
You can start training with your team at West End Athletic Club. Our gym is located near
Islington and Bloor in Toronto.
Sophia Stephenson is a freelance writer based out of Toronto, Ontario.