Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

Hockey Conditioning: Shuttle Runs and Slideboards

A couple days ago, I wrote a post on why hockey players shouldn’t use exercise bikes to condition.

If you missed it, check it out here: Hockey Conditioning: To Bike or Not to Bike!

So if you aren’t going to bike, what should you do?

The main two conditioning modalities that I recommend are:

Shuttle Runs

Pros:
This full body high intensity movement requires similar energy system characteristics as skating.

Shuttle runs require direction changes, which are inevitable on the ice.

Hockey players will produce force into the ground in a free movement pattern in order to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction.

Sprinting involves full hip extension and core control of this extended posture, which helps reverse the hunched over posture that hockey players spend too much time in.

Sprinting necessitates single-leg stability, just like skating.

Cons:
Shuttle runs minimally stress lateral movement patterns and the involved hip musculature that is used in skating.

Slideboards

Pros:
Slideboarding is a high intensity movement that requires similar energy system characteristics as skating.

Slideboarding involves constant lateral loading and direction changes, which reinforces the direction changes hockey players perform on the ice and strengthens the muscles on the lateral and medial (outside and inside) aspects of the hip. This helps decrease skating-related injuries (hip flexor and groin strains), while improving single-leg stability.

Slideboarding can easily be progressed to wearing a weight vest without interfering with the pattern, which mimics the loading and thermoregulatory changes that upper body equipment places on hockey players.

On-ice stride patterns can be improved off the ice using a slideboard. Specifically, hockey players can groove a proper skating posture and recovery mechanics on a slideboard. I’ve helped many players alleviate back pain from skating due to excessive rotation at the lower back simply by bringing it to their attention while they are on a slideboard.

Slideboards are awesome.

Cons:
Slideboards can be expensive and aren’t available at common gyms. If you’re lucky enough to be around Endeavor Fitness, we have slideboards AND a skating treadmill. If you’re not, you can build a slideboard for less than $50. Actually, I built two when I was younger for less than $50. It took about 2 hours and was a great father-son bonding experience. Nothing says family togetherness time like building high intensity hockey training equipment!

Reread the above paragraph. There are no cons.

Check back in the next couple days to learn how these rules change based on whether you’re in-season or out of season.

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you want to use a PROVEN ice hockey training system this off-season to guarantee you enter tryouts and next season at your best, check out my Off-Ice Training course.

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  • Art Fasig

    What types of, speed, quikness and other drills. should my 12 yr old be working on, off ice. Teir 1 AAA player.

    • Hi Art. Great question! The major focus at that age should be developing overall athleticism. Learning proper jumping, landing, and transitional movement patterns at that age will allow your son to develop the foundation he needs to thrive in the future. First step quickness can be improved from short-distance (e.g. 10 yards) sprints. I don’t generally recommend hockey players spend any time using ladder drills because they spend too much time staring at the ground and the fine footwork doesn’t translate to the movements used on the ice. Hope this helps.

      -Kevin

  • Richard

    I have two slide boards and built them both. Great training tool! I made a 8 ft long one for power, and a 6ft long one that really helps to build speed and push off strength! Great advice!

    • Thanks! I actually built an adjustable one when I was younger. I wish I still had the instructions for how to build it so I could share it with everyone else. It’s too good of a tool to not have access to!

      -Kevin

  • Gar

    My son uses a slideboard, but I am not sure he is doing enough time. To make an impact – What would a good slideboard workout look like? How much time? How many days per week?

    • Hi Jerry! Think quality, not quantity. Our slideboard training sessions almost NEVER exceed 15 minutes and are usually closer to 12. We have a series of conditioning progressions, but one of our less complex sessions may look like: 8 x 30s work intervals with 60s rest OR 12 x 20s work intervals with 40s rest.

      Both of these only take 12 minutes. It’s important that your son maintains a good posture throughout the slideboarding, emphasizing good stride recovery and arm swing mechanics while keeping his chest and eyes up.

      -Kevin

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  • Richard

    Kevin, how many times a week would you suggest doing the 12×20 workout?

  • The 12 x 20s is just an example of an interval session we use as part of our conditioning progression. How many times per week depends on the season (in-season, off-season, pre-season, etc.).

    Early off-season we’re only going to condition once this year, moving to up to 4 times as the season approaches.

Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He spent the last 7 years as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ, the last 3 of which he was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team. Kevin is in his 5th year as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey .