How to Prepare for Playoffs

For hockey players and their parents getting themselves ready for their Local, Provincial/State or National playoffs, this time of the year can be stressful but also a fun and exciting time. 

Often, for no fault of their own, many hockey players and their teams fall short of their objectives at these events, without really taking full advantage of their capabilities.

What do I mean by ‘falling short'?  Underachieving at this big event.   

Based on my personal experience as a hockey parent and coach, at the tournament weekends, come early Sunday morning or afternoon, when the meaningful games come around, many of the players seem to just 'run out of gas'. Some even become sick or run down over the weekend. Have you ever noticed how your son or daughter catches a nasty cold just leading into and then hanging around for the event?

This was a real 'head scratcher’ for me as this happened quite often?

So, let's back up a little so I may explain how to avoid this.

In fact, let's back some 7 to 14 days before the big event.

For the player, this is ABSOLUTELY when the PLAYOFF PREPARATION should begin.

Now as a parent you must be thinking, “how in the world am I going to fit all of this new stuff in?”

Please take a deep breath as this will not add any stress to anyone's life.  This will be fun for the hockey player and the Mom & Dad.  In fact, your hockey player will begin to take ownership of their preparation, learn to become accountable and have huge gains with self-esteem.

You're probably thinking to yourself, “It's easy for him to say all of this stuff”.  Well let me qualify this for you, for almost a full decade, we had our four boys, who all played high-level hockey and only through trial and error did I realize that big tournament and playoff weekends didn't have to be so frustrating.

So here is my take on this 7 to 14-day PLAYOFF PREPARATION.  These simple steps will absolutely offer any player the opportunity to be stronger, quicker, clearer of mind and fresher for the whole event at hand.

It should include:

  1. Specific strength/cardio/flexibility conditioning tailored for your hockey player.
  2. Specific sleeping pattern.
  3. Specific nutrition/food intake.
  4. Specific hockey skill sets strengthening for your hockey player.


Your players should make sure they stretch every day followed by doing some simple strength activities such as but not limited to push ups, pull ups, squats (using bodyweight only), wrist curls, toe raises, etc. 4 sets of 20 for each every day should do it. There is so much information available for hockey players on the web. It is out there, and something tells me your player will have no issues navigating the web!

For cardio, how does skipping rope for 5 minutes every day sound like?  A quick run? Easy to do.

The Power of Sleep

On the sleeping pattern, I would suggest to you that your player will for sure have late games followed the next day by very early games like 8 am. So, a 5:30 am wake up call will be the norm. Why not start this at home a couple of weeks early. Have your player hit the sack an hour earlier along with clearing the bedroom of all electronics and set the wake-up time to be at least 5:30 am – 6 am time slot. Result? Your player’s body and mind will be conditioned to know how to deal with and take full advantage of the early games in this short term playoff preparation routine.

The Power of Nutrition

I don't pretend to be a nutritionist, but I did play pro hockey and I understand how to prepare my body and mind for big games and events. I would recommend that reducing and even eliminating all processed sugars and process carbohydrates is critical. Your player will quickly begin to surge with energy in time for the big weekend.

Here is a good example; having processed sweetened cereals for breakfast– NOT GOOD!  Bagels-NOT GOOD!  A couple of pieces of toast!  NOT GOOD!  POP & Energy Drinks!  NOT GOOD!

Oh yeah!  Stay away from sports drinks! NOT GOOD!

Have your player eat like their great grandparents would eat when working on the farm. In large portions.

Lots of veggies. Lots of fruit. Lots of solid protein. Real grains and water to stay hydrated.

Focus on Strengths

At this time of the year, everything your player engages in with hockey must be positive, including during team practices. So please have your player work to elevate their strengths and not dwell on weaknesses. Weaknesses were not responsible for putting your player and your player's team in this position, so being positive is key!   

 On a final note, Stealth Hockey Training will offer your player the chance to refine, sharpen and heighten their skill set, including puck handling and shooting like a pro before the big event.

Thank you and Good Luck


Greg Gravel

Program Director

Stealth Hockey Training