What Time Do NHL Warmups Start? NHL Warmups Explained

Posted on June 16, 2024 by Dan Kent
NHL Warmups

NHL warmups are an integral part of the game, offering fans a unique opportunity to observe players as they prepare for the match.

When do warmups start in the NHL? 

Typically, the warmup session starts 30 minutes before the scheduled game time, allowing players to get into the zone physically and mentally.

The duration of these warmups is generally around 15 to 16 minutes, after which the players head back to their respective dressing rooms for final preparations before hitting the ice again for the puck drop.

The atmosphere in the arena during warmups is often filled with anticipation as supporters arrive early to catch a glimpse of their favourite players, maybe even heading down in an attempt to get an autograph. 

It's a chance to see the athletes in a more relaxed setting, executing drills and fine-tuning their shots.

For those planning to attend an NHL game, arriving early to witness the warmup is highly encouraged. It enhances the overall experience and allows one to appreciate the skill and preparation involved in hockey. 

And also, let's not forget that hockey tickets are costly. Let's get every possible experience we can out of a game.

Goalie preparation

Goalie preparation is a focal point of warmups. They follow a detailed routine involving specialized stretches and drills to keep their reflexes sharp. This preparation is vital as goalies need to be immediately ready for the rapid pace of an NHL game.

Injury prevention and safety

Warmups are essential for injury prevention and safety. Players dedicate time to dynamic stretches and drills that activate the muscles, with particular attention to those most prone to injury. This routine is not just physical; it includes checking equipment to prevent accidents during gameplay.

Psychological aspects of warmups

The psychological aspects of warmups cannot be understated. They serve as a mental bridge for NHL players transitioning from the locker room to gameplay. During this time, players mentally rehearse and engage in techniques that elevate their concentrated state, preparing mentally for the demands of the match.

Coaches' role in warmups

Coaches play a critical role in structuring warmups. They observe players, ensuring the warmup routine is followed and making necessary adjustments.

They also instill a sense of discipline and focus, setting the tone for the teamwork and effort expected in the game to follow.

Purpose of pre-game warmups

Pre-game warmups get hockey players' muscles loose and their reflexes sharp before the match begins.

It's a time to engage in stretches, skating, stickhandling, and team drills, ensuring that players are physically and mentally prepared for the demands of the game.

Typical activities

Players perform various on-ice exercises such as skating, shooting, and passing to increase heart rate and muscle temperature. 

Goalies have specific routines, often including agility movements around the crease and reaction drills to prepare themselves for the shots they will face.

Player-specific warmup routines

Each player may have individual warmup preferences, from particular stretches to specific stickhandling patterns. Some players engage in mind games or superstitions during warmups to gain a mental edge.

In contrast, others focus on replicating game-like situations, such as a hard forecheck or a breakaway.

Warmup timing for different starts

The start time for warmups can shift depending on the time of day the NHL game is played.

Warmups may occur earlier for matinee games, while evening games follow the standard pre-game schedule.

Post-warmup routines

After warmups conclude and the Zamboni clears the ice, players retreat to the locker room for final strategic discussions and equipment adjustments before returning to the ice for the official start of the NHL game. The Zamboni also cleans the ice once more.

Warmups during playoffs

In the playoffs, the intensity of warmups may increase with the stakes. Players might spend extra time perfecting their routines or discussing strategies with teammates to secure an advantage.

Intermissions during playoff games also provide an opportunity for mini-warmups to maintain sharpness.

NHL warmups are meticulously planned to ensure each player is ready to compete at the highest level. These critical moments before the puck drop are as much a part of the game as the following action.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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