Getting Hockey Specific with Your Speed Training

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Getting Hockey Specific With Your Speed Training Image Top

Hockey is really an interesting sport because it lives across the entire strength-speed to speed-strength continuum.

Stregnth Speed Cont. Image

When players are battling for control in the corners and are throwing or taking a check, or goalies, when they are fending off the opposition and clearing the crease, that’s when good static strength in the high load, low-velocity (strength-speed) end of the continuum is crucial.  Much like a wrestler or MMA fighter needs when applying a hold or trying to get out of one.

Getting Hockey Specific With Your Speed Training Image Joint 1

On the other hand, taking a shot, skating on a breakaway or blocking a flurry of rapid shots are great examples of where training to the right of the above continuum (explosive/speed) gets the nod.  Off-ice strength training programs should be designed to provide the best transfer of gains on-ice.

 (Med Ball Slams)

From a programming perspective, Olympic lift variations will fall closer to the strength-speed/power side of the curve whereas plyometric and med ball throws will live in the explosive/speed area and pure sprint work will fall closer to the speed end of the continuum.

1. Utilizing different starting positions to change the training effect of sprint work – Many times athletes don’t have the equipment that is available to them here at RPP so by utilizing different starting positions, we can use more of our body weight and gravity to help shift the emphasis of what we’re trying to train and where it falls on the continuum. Here are some examples:

Speed: For example, backpedal to sprint offers a quick change of direction drill emphasizing hockey specific movement on the far right of the continuum (pure speed):

(Backpedal to 10 yd sprint)

Explosive Strength: Adding a simple crossover step gives us a bit more resistance on both the push-off and the takeoff moving us a bit further left on the continuum (explosive/strength):

(Crossover to 10-yd Sprint)

Strength Speed: And finally, 1/2 kneeling starts require the most force to get up and out of the blocks and will therefore be slowest of the movements but will build the most strength/speed:

(1/2 Kneeling Side Starts)

These would be used more towards the beginning of the off-season, the crossovers more towards the middle of the season and the side starts in the end or “pre-season”.

2. Getting hockey specific with your speed training – Simply sprinting when working on speed and endurance is too sagittal (front to back) movement wise and does not resemble anything remotely close to the slower more lateral movement of a hockey player moving on the ice. Remember they’re not sprinters, their hockey players…

Getting Hockey Specific With Your Speed Training Image Joint 2

Short duration drills such as transitional sprint carry the most on-ice specificity movement-wise as well as reducing the risk of injury due to the short distances covered (generally 10-15 yards).

(Transitional Sprint Drill)

And lastly, for all the ladder drill gurus out there, I do believe ladder drills have some merit as far as “quick feet” go, but for the most part let me just say this:

Ladder drills make you really good at……Ladder Drills!!

Moving your feet really quickly without moving your body very far won’t make you move your body across the ice (or anywhere for that matter) very quickly. This is especially true for hockey players who are generally pretty big guys wearing a ton of equipment. They need to transfer a good amount of weight from point A to point B quickly.

In summary, get strong early in the off-season, and build up your explosiveness as it gets closer to ice time.

See ya’ in the gym.