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Building a Dynamic Warm Up and Cool Down

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 03/13/14, 10:00AM EDT


Brought to you by Gatorade Hockey

Hockey is a physically demanding sport that requires its players to have endurance, agility, speed and flexibility. To develop and maintain these abilities, the body must be adequately trained; this includes properly preparing for practices and games. The most important part of preparing for a practice or game is the warm up. 

A dynamic warm up is the optimal way to warm up before a game or practice. Not only will a dynamic warm-up increase body temperature, blood flow, flexibility, joint range of motion, and neural activity to the working muscles, it will also help prevent injury. This type of warm up is a series of exercises designed to mimic the motions that the sport expects from the body. It can be performed both on and off the ice.
During a dynamic warm up, you always want to begin with general movements and then get more specific. You will need a space about 40-50 feet long, so a hallway, or outside area can be used.  Begin by getting the body warm by jogging and/or skipping. For example, jog 4-5 lengths of the designated area then skip 2-3 lengths, making sure to swing the arms to warm the upper body as well.  After this, there are an infinite number of exercises that can be done.  If you think about the movements the body performs in hockey, these are the ones you want to mimic in the dynamic warm up.  Some examples of these exercises are walking lunges with an added torso twist, high knees, straight leg swings, buttock kicks, and carioca.  Do at least 2 repeats of each exercise along the 40-50 foot space, making sure to include one exercise for each major muscle group, as well as exercises for the upper body such as arm swings (to mimic shooting with the hockey stick), and neck rolls.
The same type of warm up can also be performed on the ice.  Remember to start slow and pick up speed and increase motion as you warm up.  You also want to exaggerate the movements so that the muscles and joints are taken through a full range of motion. 

Just as important as the warm up is the cool down. It’s very important during the cool down that the heart rate is slowed gradually. This can be done by doing a couple of slower laps on ice before finishing, some light jogging on the spot, or using the stationary bike after taking your equipment off. During a cool down it is appropriate to use static stretching, meaning stretching in a stationary position while the body is at rest. When performing static stretching, make sure to address all the major muscle groups, such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors and gluteal muscles, so that they are all lengthened appropriately. 
If a proper dynamic warm up and flexibility routine are followed before each practice or game, and a thorough cool down and static flexibility program are followed after each practice or game, the body will be more likely to handle the demands of hockey and decrease the chance of injury.

About the Author

Erin MacDonald 
Certified Athletic Therapist
B.A. Kin, Dip. SIM, CAT(C), RMT 

Erin MacDonald has been a Certified Athletic Therapist, CAT(C), for many sports teams including Guelph University's men's hockey team, the University of Western Ontario's football team, the Hamilton Tiger Cats Football Club, and the Columbus Landsharks of the National Lacrosse League.  In 2004, Erin began working at The Elliott Sports Medicine Clinic and, in 2009, became owner of the clinic.  Erin has a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario and graduated with honours from the Sports Injury Management program at Sheridan College. 

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