While the ice-hockey season has almost arrived, players can still work on their "first line fitness" to ensure they perform according to their expectations.

If you are want to be a great hockey player, you have to possess above-average skills and great game-sense. But you must also develop the fitness so that you have enough stamina and ability to perform well all season long.

You moves can only take you so far you have "fourth-line fitness".

Ideally, players would be involved in an off-ice training program all summer long to build the required levels of fitness, strength and develop pace. But time is a limited entity, and you may find yourself in a not-fit-for-hockey shape, with a few weeks to go before the start of the season.

It is physically impossible for young players to get stronger or faster in only 4 weeks. The muscular and nervous systems just cannot undergo such rapid changes.

However, the cardiovascular system is amenable to fast changes, which means for players can develop "first line fitness" in only a month.

Players can use conditioning circuits that combine short sprints and strength exercises to improve their fitness levels in a relatively short period of time. These high-intensity circuits simulate a shift out on the ice by incorporating movements that are central to the game of hockey.

Here is an example of a conditioning circuit that can be used with players during training camp:

  • - Start with 10 push-ups.
  • - Sprint 20 meters as fast as possible.
  • - Perform 10 squat jumps.
  • - Sprint 20 meters back to the start.
  • - Perform another 10 push-ups.
  • - Sprint 20 meters.
  • - Perform 20 meters of walking lunges back to the start.
  • - Sprint 20 meters.

Perform one round of the circuit and then rest for 3 minutes. Repeat this sequence 3 or 4 more times and you will attain the desired fitness levels.

By developing "first-line fitness" through the off-season, you are putting yourself in a position to excel in training camp and beyond. Remember the earlier you start, the greater the edge you will have over your competitors.