Speed is essential at any level of sport. If you are faster than most of your teammates, you definitely have a leg up on getting more playing time in more situations. If you’re faster than your opponents, you will certainly be more successful.
Getting faster can be really simple. It takes a bit of work, and may require some planning, but anyone can get it done!
Check out the infographic and tell me that speed isn’t a major factor for puck control especially. McDavid and MacKinnon both control the play more than any other players in the NHL, because they have the speed to be elusive and keep the biscuit on their sticks. Rush chances, and end to end rushes in particular are identified as aspects of these two blazingly fast players’ games.
A couple of easy ways to create speed in a short period of time are mobility and mechanics.
The first two drills here are mobility drills, that focus on two areas of importance for hockey players; hips and quads.
Band resisted Frog Rockback https://youtu.be/DUsO0lnvsyY
Tight, immobile hips plague many athletes at all levels of competition.
Being tight in the front of your hips can lead to plenty of undesirable side effects, such as diminished power, increased risk of groin strains and in some cases, back pain. Spending hours flexed at the hip in an athletic stance each week does nothing but magnify the issue. So don’t think that tightness will magically disappear on its own. You’ll need to do some targeted mobility work to really combat the problem.
Band Assisted Quad Mobs- https://youtu.be/LfqDOz24RRc
Restricted rectus femoris can also play a part in a tight, immobile anterior. Many sports that include running and skating are quad dominant, and imbalances occur frequently. This is why we spend a lot of the off-season strengthening posterior chain (more to come on this later:), and trying to reduce restrictions on the front side.
This is a great drill to coordinate a couple of useful skills required by players who want to increase speed. Arm action, ground contact time, and explosive hip flexion are all being learned here.
The general mechanics of skating and the interaction of force transfer between the body/ice surfaces via the skate blade are also comparable to running. Similar to early stage sprint acceleration (which we will touch on later as well), ice-skating is a primarily concentric-force dominant action and utilizes stretch-shortening strategies during major parts of the movement to help increase output (Farlinger 2007). Specifically, it appears that dorsiflexion pre-load at the ankle (drills to come later:) during contact with the ice prior to finishing a stride, as well as hip complex pre-loading prior to push-off/extension, are key contributing actions just as in accelerating and jumping on land.
In simple terms…learning to run, jump and skip on land will MOST DEFINITELY assist players who want to get faster on the ice.
1-Leg Bounce to Skip https://youtu.be/QlolGo6nl34
Farlinger, C. K. (2008). The Effect of Sequence of Skating-Specific Training on Skating Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance , 3 (2), 185-198.