Flexibility Should Be The Name
Of Your Game

by Greg Siller - Pro Learning Systems

Properly warming up and stretching your muscles, tendons (tissues that connect muscle to bone), and ligaments (tissues that connect bone to bone) before every practice and game will improve your flexibility and range of motion, lubricate your joints, and reduce the risk of injury. This provides your body with the ability to start, stop, turn, get by an opponent, and shoot as quickly as possible; in other words--allowing you to play your best. Time spent warming up and stretching can also help you channel any pre-game or pre-practice nervous energy by allowing you to relax and focus.

Benefits of stretching after your game or practice are that since your muscles (tendons and ligaments too) are already warmed up, they can stretch further and increase the range of motion over what they could do before your practice or game. This helps improve your overall long-term flexibility. Stretching after your practice or game also reduces delayed muscle soreness--the soreness that you may feel 24 to 48 hours after playing.

Types of Stretching

Static stretching isolates and stretches a specific muscle while you are in a stationary position (sitting, standing, laying on your back, etc). This type of stretching can be done before or after your game or practice, or while you are on the bench.

Dynamic stretching is used in conjunction with slow to medium-paced skating and is best utilized during the start of practice, during the pre-game warm-up, or following a practice as a cool-down. Dynamic stretching before your practice/game provides the muscles with the opportunity to both warm-up and stretch in game-like scenarios.

The 6 Flex Areas You Need To Work On

  1. neck - allows your head/eyes to view the entire playing surface.
  2. shoulders, upper back, and upper arms - supports the shooting movement, glove and blocker saves by goaltenders, and 1-on-1 confrontations.
  3. wrists and lower arms - supports stickhandling, passing, shooting, puck deflections, and stickchecking.
  4. lower back - supports an effective and efficient skating posture, passing, shooting, and 1-on-1 confrontations.
  5. upper legs and groin (including hips, hamstrings, quads, and knees) - supports quick and powerful skating strides, a balanced stance, strong shooting, and for a goaltender, the ability to make quick leg saves.
  6. lower legs and ankles - supports full leg extensions for powerful skating strides, balanced movement, and provide for quick turning, starting, and stopping.


Stretching Pointers

Putting It All Together

The Pro Learning Systems Quick-FlexHockey Flexibility Program was created by Bill Zebley, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, and I to allow hockey players to achieve maximum flexibility benefit in a short amount of time. The program can be used as your guideline for executing your pre- and post-game (practice too) flexibility program and should take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. Getting a teammate to work with you will help keep you focussed, challenge you to continue (and improve) the program, and get you ready to play your best. As with any physical improvement program, follow my Stretching Pointers above and consult with a physician or your own certified personal trainer before getting started or if you are feeling any pain or discomfort while executing the program.

Quick-Flex Hockey Flexibility Program

Activity (time)


Off Rink

On Rink


(5 mins)

Perform a 5 minute warm-up before getting dressed. This could involve walking around the rink or doing some stationary walking in the locker room. You also need to warm-up while skating by taking a couple of slow/medium paced laps.



Neck Flex (1 min) Perform slow neck rotations, both clockwise and counter-clockwise.


Shoulders/Upper Back/ Upper Arms Flex

(2 mins)

  1. Extend your arms out from your side and rotate using a small clockwise or counter-clockwise motion.
  2. Bring your hands together in front of you and extend your hands forward, hold, then release.
  3. Raise your right arm, move your right hand to your left shoulder, keeping your arm behind your head (elbow pointing upward), hold, then release. Reverse arms.
Wrist/Lower Arms Flex

(1 min)

Hold your hockey stick vertically, with your hand in the middle of the shaft, blade-end up. Rotate your wrist to the left/right so that your stick goes horizontal. Alternate hands. X X
Lower Back Flex

(2 mins)

  1. While lying on your back, pull your knees toward your chest, hold, then release.
  2. While lying on your back, flex your left knee across your body and pull towards your right shoulder, hold, then release. Alternate legs.


Upper Leg/Groin Flex

(2 mins)

  1. Sit erect with the soles of your feet together. Gently pull your heels toward your groin and press the inside of your knees toward the floor.
  2. Start off standing, and then bring both hands to the floor. Slowly extend your right leg backward (like you are starting a race) keeping your heel pointing upward. Your front knee should be directly over your foot and ankle. With your weight supported by both hands, move your hips toward floor.
  3. While standing, and using a wall to support yourself, bring your right heel back toward your buttocks. Reach back with your right hand and grab your right ankle. Hold, then repeat with your left side.
  4. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your right leg (without lifting your hips) so that it is pointing straight up. Hold your leg just below the knee, then repeat with your left leg.
Lower Leg/Ankle Flex

(1 min)

  1. Place your stick on the floor. Place the balls of your feet on the shaft of the stick. Lift your heels off the floor, hold, then release.
  2. While skating around the rink, flex your right toes up toward your shin, and then back. Repeat with left foot.




Contact Greg Siller @ Pro Learning Systems