At every level, it’s the fastest players who win races to loose pucks, create the time and space needed to get quality shots off, and ultimately create the most opportunities. In a game where a fraction of a second can mean the difference between winning and losing, speed separates the elite players from the average ones.
Clearly, hockey players must seize every opportunity to improve their speed. The trouble is, there’s a widespread misunderstanding of how to best train for speed.
Many players continue to spend valuable training time on “quick feet” drills with cones and ladders, as well as other speed drills they typically lift from a track and field or football training program.
This so-called “speed work” is often supplemented with old school bodybuilding or powerlifting routines in the weight room, or worse, no strength training at all.
Unfortunately, these common off-ice training practices have little bearing on skating and on-ice performance. Skating is a unique motion that has several very notable differences compared to running. Understanding these differences, as well as considering the impact of the rapid accelerations, decelerations, and direction changes required in hockey are all incredibly important when designing a training program that will transfer to on-ice improvements.
In addition to the lack of awareness regarding hockey-specific speed training, many players will also perform their speed work in a way that actually makes them slower.
Speed development requires a specific amount of intensity to make a change. If this intensity cannot be maintained for any reason (e.g. insufficient rest between reps, poor recovery between days, etc.) the training becomes "conditioning" at best, and useless stress at worst. In either case, the player exerts a lot of energy, but doesn’t get faster, and may expose themselves to an… Read more…