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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Exercises To Increase Speed

Since the NHL lockout of 2005 came to an end, there were a few rule changes that brought about a new game of hockey.  Less clutching, grabbing, and getting rid of all the unnecessary stick work made the game faster.  All of a sudden, speed became even more important than it originally was.

In the past, defensemen were able to use their free hand to grab forwards as they tried to make a move around them.  Forwards backchecking, used their sticks to hook sticks, arms, and hips.  It was basically, do whatever you could so your man didn't beat you.

Now times have changed.  And in my opinion, it's for the better.  Sure, I miss the toughness element that came with that style of hockey, but now we get to witness more skilled players go at it.  Or at least, the players in today's game get to showcase their true skill more easily because they don't have to worry about getting hacked or hooked.

So players these days need to concentrate on speed if they're going to make it to any high level of hockey.  In order to increase their speed, there's many things they can do besides getting bag skated at the end of each practice.

Off ice training should be, at this point in time, a priority for players because of all the research that has come out proving how beneficial training away from the ice can be.

So here's 3 exercises you can do to increase your speed on the ice:

1. Sprints

Maybe the most basic exercise you can think of, but it's stuck around so long because it works.  There's nothing fancy about it.  Just a guy and his legs.  But before you move on to exercise #2, keep this little note in mind.  Whenever you are sprinting at top speed for over 8-10 seconds, you are no longer working on speed.  It doesn't mean that you're not getting some type of training effect, it just means that you're speed gains won't be as significant.  

Try this:  10 rounds of 8-10 second sprints.  After each sprint, rest a full 2 minutes.

2. Plyometrics

Another type of exercise that doesn't require any fancy equipment.  The benefit of using plyometrics for your training is that they focus on being explosive.  Each movement is done in an explosive way.  For example, a squat jump is basically an exercise where you squat down and explode back up by jumping as high as you can.  But since hockey is more of a sport where you push off of one leg at a time, try alternating lunge jumps.  To perform them, start in a lunge position where you step one leg out in front of you while the back knee is on the ground.  From that position jump straight up as high as you can while switching your feet in the air.  You'll end up landing so that you're now in a lunge position with the opposite leg now out in front.

Try this:  3 sets of 10 jumps (5 jumps each leg)
Progress by adding 2 jumps to each leg on each set.

3. Squats

Speed is one of those things that people have always believed you're either born with or you don't have it.  Sure, some people are faster than others, but that doesn't mean you can't improve your speed.  The best way to improve your speed is to get stronger.

If you can generate more force into the ground, you'll be able to move at a faster pace.  That's just science.  So the best way to build up strength in your lower body is with squats.  Read this article on how to squat properly:

Try this: 3 sets of 10 reps as a beginner 2x's per week.
Once you get the correct technique down, move to 4 sets of 6-8 reps 2x's per week.

So there you have it.  Three exercises you can start using today to help you become a faster skater and start improving your performance as a player.

For more hockey training exercises and workouts, check out my program 1st Star Performance at

Conor Doherty, PTS, is an athletic trainer in Dryden, Ontario, who specializes in sports performance. The majority of his clients are hockey players. Conor has a well-rounded background in the training field with an Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology degree as well as being a certified trainer with Canadian Fitness Professionals. Learn more about his training methods and programs at


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