Developing your game along the boards can be significantly improved using specific exercises in your off-ice workouts. In order to be effective in controlling body positioning, containing opponents or protecting the puck, you must first get lower and wider in your stance and have the strength within your core and hips to handle the physical play that is common in this area of the ice.
Getting lower in your stance basically lowers your center of gravity, allowing you to have better leverage when pushing or absorbing contact from other players. Players who stay up too tall easily get pushed around and lose their balance when play gets physical along the boards.
For you to get lower in your stance you must create a level of strength and comfort staying in a deep stance position. The lateral slide squat exercise is an effective way to do just that and allows you to develop that strength in a single leg stance as you transition from side to side.
To build the core, the walkout position on a stability ball (where the ball is underneath the lower legs) creates an unstable base of support that your core muscles must react to and control. By adding the action of rising up and back down into the elbow bridge position, you can increase the challenge of the walkout position and really build the strength and stability of your core.
Adding the lateral walking lunges to your workouts will help you to maintain a wide stable stance. This exercise targets the strength of the lateral hip muscles and really helps to keep you firmly planted into the ice when you need it most.
So put these exercises into your off-ice workouts and watch as you see the strength and stability you create with them improve your play along the boards.