Anyone who’s serious about going far in hockey knows it’s not as simple as being the best and getting drafted. Whether it’s going from minor hockey to juniors, or from juniors to the pros, every prospect is going to have to undergo rigorous testing at some point. Today we’re going to talk about how to prepare for the combine. In the interest of getting into the mindset of making it to the top, we’re going to use the NHL Combine as the benchmark. Let’s jump right into it.
Obviously one needs to train and prepare a great deal before taking part in the combine. The tests to train for are the Wingate, Bench Press, Vertical Jump, Long Jump, Shuttle Run, Pullups, and the VO2. In order to train properly for these tests, training needs to be broken up into parts. The best way to this is a 5-6 day rotation with 1-2 rest days. The workouts need to be split in a way that allows for proper training for each test.
A 5-6 day rotation is generally the most effective routine. The most efficient way to split the routine is as follows:
Day 1- Lower body weights + speed drills.
Day 2- Upper body weights + high-intensity cardio.
Day 3- Lower body weights + jumping.
Day 4- Upper body weights + high-intensity cardio.
Day 5- Biggest weakness.
Day 6- Biggest weakness.
In terms of actual exercises, it’s best to just keep it simple. On upper body weight days, it’s generally good to focus mainly on Bench Press and Pullups. The Bench Press Test is 80% of your body weight to failure. The best way to improve this is to start with a light set of 30 reps before going down to 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 while increasing weight. When you hit 80% of your body weight, go until failure no matter which set you’re on before moving on to the next set.
For pull-ups, do 5 sets until failure. Lat pulldowns are also a good exercise to prepare. You’ll also want to improve the muscular endurance of your shoulders by doing front and lateral raises.
For lower body, it’s best to start off with squats and deadlifts. Once you get those big ones out of the way, go into weighted jumping squats to really boost your vertical and long jump.
On day 1 of each week, start with your regular warmup. Before you go into your squats, do your own Vertical Jump Test. Record your height and that is now your benchmark to beat each week. In terms of speed drills, the best way to prepare for the Shuttle Run is to continuously include it in your training and record your times. Make sure these are done immediately AFTER the leg workouts. It’ll make the actual test much easier on Combine Day.
For the Wingate and VO2 Max, get on a bike and just push yourself at high resistance for as hard and as long as possible. For days 5 and 6, the most effective use of those extra days is to work on one’s biggest deficiencies. Make sure to include some recovery at the end of each workout as well such as foam rolling and stretching.