There are two general ways to approach linear speed training:

1) Improving the rate at which a player approaches top speed (e.g. acceleration)

2) Improving top speed

It’s rare for a player to reach top speed with any regularity in hockey, whereas the ability to accelerate is integral to performance in every shift.

However, the top speed a player can reach creates a ceiling on how quickly they can accelerate, so training to improve max speed will positively impact acceleration ability.

With that in mind, it’s helpful to understand different characteristics of acceleration and steady state skating so training efforts can be either shifted to emphasize acceleration or max speed work to a greater extent, or to simply ensure that all of the necessary qualities are being addressed in a way that best transfers to the ice.

Summarizing work from Buckeridge et al (2015) and Stidwill et al. (2010)…

Acceleration, identified as the first 3 steps, is characterized by higher activity in the calves, a larger hip flexion/extension arc, and a single peak force-time curve.

This indicates a running-type pattern, with a more sagittal-plane dominant strategy.

Steady state skating is characterized by higher quad EMG, higher hip abduction ROM and velocity, a greater degree of knee flexion at weight acceptance and knee extension at toe off and therefore a greater knee ROM, and a bi-modal force-time curve. The bi-modal force-time curve is created by an initial peak at weight acceptance, a slight dip associated with loading the leg, and then a second peak for the push out.

These characteristics are indicative of a gliding push-off pattern, with more of a frontal plane emphasis.

Recognizing the differences in planes of movement, ranges of motion, and muscular contributions opens up a lot of possibilities for improving training specificity based on individual needs, and adjusting exercise selection and execution to maximize the on-ice transfer.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re interested in effective off-ice training programs specifically designed to improve speed, check out my new book Speed Training for Hockey.

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Well, it saddens me to say this, but the Flyers playoff run is officially over. And with that, so is the beard. I was hoping to make it to the Boston Hockey Symposium for the second straight year with the Flyers still making a run, but I guess it just wasn’t their year (maybe the 5 scheduled surgeries and 3 other probable surgeries have something to do with it?).

Playoff beard…final hours

The good news is I’m feeling rejuvenated from my trip out San Diego last week and have a lot of great content for you over the next few weeks. We added some great stuff to Hockey Strength and Conditioning that you’ll want to check out.

Darryl Nelson wrote an outstanding article on speed training for hockey. While I think that most of the people in the circle’s I run with have a great understanding of speed training principles, I think the topic remains poorly understood amongst the majority of the hockey world. Darryl’s article does a great job of outlining the most important principle in developing speed for hockey and provides several off-ice training methods to facilitate on-ice gains. Short and to the point. Check it out at the link below:

Click here >> Training for Speed from Darryl Nelson

Sean Skahan added a video of a leg circuit he uses with his players in the late off-season/early pre-season. This is a great video because it shows a training option that isn’t equipment-reliant. In other words, assuming movement pattern proficiency, anyone can do this. The important thing is to recognize where it fits into the bigger training picture. For younger players with a short training history, this method may be effective in developing increases in strength and size. For players with an older training age, a circuit like this would be great for developing work capacity in the hips and legs, but won’t help much in the way of strength improvements. This is likely the reason Sean mentions he uses the circuit to transition into the pre-season, where strength improvements take a back-seat in importance to ensuring the player has the work capacity to sustain the impending on-ice demands. Check out the video here:

Click here >> Leg Circuit from Sean Skahan

As always, there are a few great forum discussions that you’ll be interested in. Check out the one on the benefits of power skating instruction (or lack thereof?), a Q&A with Sean about his leg circuit video, and on the Graston Technique (a manual therapy technique that has some distinct benefits for hockey players).

That’s it for today! If you aren’t a member yet, shell out the $1 to test drive Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. If it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent, I’ll personally refund you!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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