Slideboards have become an integral piece of equipment in our training programs at Endeavor. I’m sure I could design programs without them, but I’m glad that I don’t have to. For those of you that have read Ultimate Hockey Training, you’ll notice that we use slideboard for a lot more than simply slideboarding. Slideboards work their way into a lot of our exercise progressions and can be used for things like posterior chain, medial hip, upper body pressing, and core work.
Over the last week I’ve gotten a few emails asking about what lengths we use and if it’s necessary to get an adjustable board, so I thought I’d address that question today. At Endeavor we have 10′ UltraSlide Slideboards, which we bought (like all of our equipment) from Perform Better.
If you’re using the slideboard for all the auxiliary exercises like lateral slideboard squat, slideboard body saws, slideboard hamstring curls, etc., it really doesn’t matter what size board you have. All that matters is that it slides. You can also do these exercises on turf or carpet with Val Slides or furniture movers. If however, you want to slideboard on them, then the 10′ adjustable boards can make a huge difference in the way you’re able to program slideboard work.
The UltraSlide adjusts to 6.5-9.5′ in 1′ increments. For the overwhelming majority of our athletes in most conditioning protocols, we’ll use the 7.5′ setting. However, we also frequently utilize the 6.5′ and 8.5′ settings frequently. The shorter setting is beneficial for younger, weaker, or less experienced athletes that simply don’t have the gusto to make it across the board with authority on each push. For our athletes that are above ~6’2″, we slide it out to the 8.5′ setting to accommodate their longer stride length. If I had to ballpark the equivalent for the shorter setting, I’d say it’s for athletes around 5’6″ or shorter, but this is really dependent upon their strength and familiarity with the motion. Those distances for athletes at those heights tends to normalize stride frequency within a reasonable margin.
Last Summer we started putting an emphasis on either keeping a steady pace or on maximizing the reps per set. Keeping a steady, intentionally slower pace within the intervals we programmed allowed us to do a few things:
Even more recently, we’ve started programming slideboard work with the intent of maximizing alactic power. Within this paradigm, the goal is essentially to work as hard as possible within a ~6s time frame and then recover completely. This idea can be modified slightly to train alactic capacity by not allowing complete recovery between bouts, but in both cases the goal is to work as hard as possible within the work intervals. This “work as hard as possible” descriptor is slightly different than “get as many touches as possible”, and highlights another reason why I really like having adjustable slideboards. Because the focus of these intervals is to push the rate at which energy can be produced, it’s essential that the athletes are actually doing WORK during the interval. With longer board settings, the glide phase of the movement is accentuated so the amount of work in any given time frame will be less compared to that same athlete on a shorter board. When we’re using slideboards with these training goals in mind, we’ll typically shift it one setting shorter than where we’d typically have an athlete go based on the height ranges above.
In short, I think it’s important to have adjustable slideboards, as it allows you to program more specifically to the individual in a group setting or to a growing individual (e.g. all youth hockey players). UltraSlide Slideboards aren’t cheap, running in the realm of $400-$600. I think people get too caught up in the ticket price and overlook the value. Aside from the fact that hockey parents are notorious for buying their kids new $300-$600 skates every year when their kid’s feet grow, and new $200 one-piece sticks (which are unnecessary and potentially counter productive for youth players…a rant for another day), it seems inconsistent to scoff at a $500 slideboard that, in one form or another, could get regular use year-round for a player’s entire career. When we’re making equipment purchasing decisions, I always try to keep the life of the implement in mind. For example, a $50 medicine ball that we’re going to break after 2 months is an expense of $25/month, an investment we make regularly because we value this type of training.
Med Ball Graveyard
A $500 slideboard that we’re going to use daily for 20 years is ~$2/month. Viewed in this light, it’s actually a better value, and given the diversity of uses, a much better investment. If you have any slideboard-related questions, please feel free to post them below!
To your success,
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.