Best Off-Ice Training Exercises to Improve Speed

Last week I shared some research highlighting differences between acceleration and steady state skating, and between elite and sub-elite skaters through these two skating phases.
In response to those posts, I was asked if I had any favorite exercises to improve acceleration and top-end speed.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I typically approach the training process by first attempting to identify the major limiting factor to a player achieving their goal. Specific to speed training, these questions can help guide the program design process:
1.    Can the player get into the right positions?
2.    Can the player hold the right positions?
3.    Can the player push out of the deep positions?
4.    Can the player “explode” out of deep positions?
5.    Can the player create separation?
In each case, there are specific exercises and training strategies that can help address the limitation, most of which can be layered into a single training phase. I’ve listed several examples in the tables above, many of which are included in the programs in my book Speed Training for Hockey.

Because early acceleration relies on a more sagittal plane dominant strategy, ensuring the athlete has sufficient ankle dorsiflexion, and hip flexion/extension range of motion can be seen as more specific to this phase, whereas work to improve hip abduction is more specific to steady state/max speed skating.
This same thought process can be extended to strength and power work, with more lateral-dominant movement patterns transferring better to max speed skating.
There are significant differences in the motions, ground contact times, and muscular contributions to high-speed running and high speed skating. While all the strategies within the “create separation” section will positively impact maximum speed, the two most effective strategies are longer-distance accelerations and flying sprints ON the ice.
Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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