What is International Dryland Academy?

International Dryland Academy is a non-profit organization whose primary focus is to better develop hockey players through a low cost method of off ice training. Our program focuses on building the fundamentals of strength, balance, flexibility and education of not only the game of hockey but of how to effectively train the body to excel at the sport. We have developed a program that combines the ideals of the traditional Soviet dryland training system of the past with the science of today and training methods of some of the best sports performance minds in North America.

Why do I need off ice dryland training?

Hockey players as a whole only practice about 30% as much as athletes in other sports do. This is due to the fact that ice time is not only expensive but also limited as a result of the number of teams needing the ice and as the sport continues to grow this issue will only become more of a problem. The great Soviet Olympic teams of the 60’s and 70’s trained for hockey year round like their North American counterparts, however due to the lack of access to a rink year round they trained using off ice programs to be more conditioned, more explosive and better educated about the game. These factors made them head and shoulders better than any other country at that time because the other countries were only “playing hockey” to get better, and while that worked to some degree they quickly reached a plateau in their success and it was obvious that they needed supplemental training to be able to compete with the Red Army teams.

Couldn’t I just do some push-ups and sit-ups?

There is a big difference between “working out” and “training” for a sport. Anyone can “work out”, become tired and sore and feel like they did something, but did they actually make them selves better at their sport? The answer is no, they didn’t. Building up the “mirror muscles” like a body builder will make you look good at the pool but it will have little to no effect on making you a better hockey player. Our training program addresses the specific needs of a hockey player’s physique and focuses on injury prevention first, and building strength second. We start by first balancing the body through mobility training, the muscles of the human body are all interconnected and under constant tension. For a variety of reasons muscle imbalances, and a shorting or lengthening of muscles can occur causing a reduction in range of motion which makes an athlete more susceptible to injury and reduces their ability to be explosive or to reach their full athletic potential. We employ a variety of compression therapy as well as static and dynamic stretches to loosen up typically tight areas and make the athlete more mobile which will instantly make them better and more fluid skaters that are less prone to injury. We also work on strengthening the shoulder girdle and the often-neglected muscles of the core and posterior chain to give the player’s spine more stability. In addition to preventing injury this also gives the athlete a more stable environment in which to generate more power. Addressing the aforementioned areas are an absolute must for hockey players of all ages, especially any players looking to get involved in weight training, not having a proper strength base or range of motion is sure to result in injury if attempting a weight training program.

So, am I going to get bigger muscles as a result of this training?

The short answer is no. Will you notice a difference in your appearance? Absolutely, but you will be achieving or maintaining an athletic build, not becoming bigger and bulkier. Hockey players are not body builders and should not train as such. Where as it is true a larger muscle has greater potential to become a stronger muscle there are better ways to go about gaining strength. Look at an Olympic lifter that can lift nearly 400lbs over their head while weighing 160lbs! You certainly wouldn’t mistake them for a body builder yet they are functionally stronger than one. Our training program follows the same logic as an Olympic lifting program, although we aren’t doing the same movements or lifting heavy weights. We focus on making the muscle faster and stronger, not bigger. Yes, there is a difference and yes you can achieve this with your natural body weight, resistance bands and medicine balls.

How can this program be effective without using barbells and dumbbells?

The first thing you will notice is that we won’t be lifting heavy weights and will use no barbells or dumbbells in our training. Our system follows the same ideals of the early Soviet dryland training program as well as many of the today’s top strength trainers. As previously mentioned we aren’t body builders and shouldn’t train one, we focus on making the muscle faster and stronger, not bigger. We use our natural body weight, resistance bands and medicine balls to train a variety movements meant to create stability and develop explosive power. We are not opposed to weight training and in fact suggest that it still play a role in your development. Our belief is that you still need to perform the movements in our program as part of, or in preparation for a weight-training program. Training with moderate to heavy weights alone can develop slower responding muscles; you need to be constantly challenging the fast twitch muscle fibers like we do in our program to maintain explosive power.

What does being more “explosive” mean and how does being “explosive” help me as a player?

We do a variety of plyo-metric movements that work on triple extension to increase the body’s ability accelerate quickly from a dead stop. Triple extension refers the extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints, which is the fundamental movement, required in all sports. Hockey players are constantly stopping, starting and rapidly changing direction on the fly, the first three strides are often the difference between getting to the lose puck first or getting past that last defender for a break away. Our program uses traditional soviet off ice power skating movements and jumps to train the muscles to act like loaded springs. These movements when done properly are more beneficial to a hockey player than weight training alone is at building speed and believe me you will be amazed at how challenging they are!

What exactly is the instructional portion of the program?

As we mentioned previously ice time is not only limited, it’s expensive. This is something the early Soviet teams also had to deal with and as a result of a lack of ice time they used their time on the ice solely for drills aimed at making them “play” better and learned positioning and strategy off the ice. We will provide instructional demonstrations to educate players on proper positioning for a variety of situations on the ice as well as explaining the proper execution of a variety fore-checks, zone entries and breakouts. These walk through demonstrations are a great way for any player to either learn the game or reinforce their hockey knowledge.

What is the deal with all of the funny hand eye training you do?

The early Soviet teams performed many unique and admittedly goofy looking drills to develop their hand eye coordination. This training can and should be done all the time by hockey players to help them get better at stick handling, poke checks, one-timers, burying rebounds, deflections and tip in’s, the list goes on and on. A hockey player will have the puck on his stick only about 10% of the time he or she is on the ice so being be better equipped to handle it once you do have possession of it is essential to rounding out your abilities as player.

Explain this whole “mental training” thing you guys do?

We have done extensive research in the areas of sport performance over the years and this often-overlooked area of training was most notable done by the early Soviet teams, although many of today top athletes and power lifters also employ these techniques. We have created a series of drills that put the mind and body in uncomfortable situations and ask them to work together and perform a challenging task. The idea is that if you can perform the task successfully while under duress it will be much easy to perform when in a game situation. The stress of a high paced hockey game can create a panicked state in the mind of a player, by recreating that scenario off the ice that player can build a tolerance to that stress and put their mind at ease to allow them to quickly make the right decision on the ice.

How are you able to prevent injury through you training?

Injuries result from acute trauma or repetitive stress associated with athletic movements. Hockey injuries like all sports injuries can affect bones or soft tissue such as ligaments, muscles, and tendons. We work to build and strengthen the muscle that support the joints which will give them more stability and allow them to be better suited to stand up to contact as well reduce to chance for dislocation by ensuring the bones are firmly secured in their sockets. We also employ high repetition movements with bands aimed at strengthening the ligaments and tendons to make them better suited to handle the stress of rapid changes of direction and body contact associated with the game of hockey. Also, through a combination of strength and mobility training we work to reduce the risk of hernias and muscle tears or pulls by creating a proper balance of flexible muscle mass. An improperly balanced and tight body is more susceptible to hernias, tears and or muscle pulls because the more dominant muscles “pull” or “tear” the less dominant muscles under bouts of maximum effort like those produced in a hockey game.

Why spend time training balance?

In hockey, much like all sports a player is rarely in the perfect athletic position during a game to either receive body contact or make a play. By developing the bodies ability to be strong and balanced in a variety of positions it allows the player to be more able to properly absorb contact and provide a stable enough platform from which to deliver a powerful shot or pass. As the player progresses through their career or goes on to play more competitive levels of hockey the ability to be strong and powerful in unnatural positions will give them a tremendous advantage over their peers.

How do I get you to do a camp in my area?

Visit our contact page and send us a request, we will let you know when we will be in your area next.

Will you do individual training sessions or weekly training programs?

Our camps are designed to educate you and show you some basic movements to do on your own to make you a better player, but if you really enjoyed our camps and are interested in continuing to work with us in a more individualized and advanced capacity either during the season or the off-season please visit our contact page and send us a request. We are happy to provide individual and or small group instruction on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis depending on what your needs are.

I see you working on shooting technique, shouldn’t that be done on ice?

We feel that when you are on the ice you should spend that time working on skating and drills that can only be done on the ice. It is our view that to devote a portion of practice to simply shooting a puck is not the best use of that time. Whether you are on skates, standing, shooting a puck or a ball, the mechanics of shooting are the same. Think of shooting off the ice like a MLB player taking batting practice. Sure it is nothing like batting in a real game situation, but it is a perfect opportunity to work on technique, improve their mechanics and recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers to create a faster and more powerful swing or in our case improve our shooting ability. We use a variety of drills and implements to specifically work on players shooting mechanics to give them a quicker release for a stronger and more accurate shot.

How will the stick handling instruction you do off the ice translate to on ice performance?

Whether you are on skates, standing, using a puck or a ball, the mechanics and methods used to handle the puck are the same. We spend time to instruct players on the proper way to hold the stick, position their hands and how to effectively work them in concert with one another to create quick and smooth puck movements as opposed to choppy aggressive movements which are more susceptible to turn overs. We use various implements and cones to create patterns that simulate various puck moving patterns and dekes using balls and pucks of various sizes, weights, and hardness to build smoother and more efficient puck handleing.

Why do you use balls for slap shots, one-timers, and tip drills?

Slap shots and one-timers are all about tempo and timing, even shooting a ball can provide us as coaches the proper feedback needed to evaluate a players strengths and weaknesses while at the same time not risking a broken stick. The same can be said for tip drills. We aren’t wearing pads so we don’t want to be inadvertently hitting players with pucks nor do we want to break a stick from redirecting a shot.

Why spend time working on passing?

Passing is a critical part of the game at any level. A puck travels faster than any player can skate so being able to pass well opens up the ice and helps transition the puck. With that being said, an inaccurate or mishandled pass can result in a turnover, which could in turn lead to a goal for the other team. If you are accurate with a ball or puck off of the ice you are going to be accurate on it as well. The same can be said for receiving a pass. Being able to handle various balls and/or pucks that all handle differently or have a tendency to bounce off of the blade of the stick will help players learn to handle passes better on the ice.