Today’s hockey game is faster than ever. Today’s young stars like Trevor Zegras and Jack Hughes are so effective because of their speed. Perennial offensive stars Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau have an unreal ability to accelerate and beat their opponent to the puck, which makes them so successful.
Speed is determined by stride length times stride frequency. Obviously, DNA has a lot to do with speed, but it can be trained successfully. Improving flexibility and strength in the legs and the mobility of the hip and ankle joints can allow for more efficient movements and a faster stride. Utilize the following two exercises to improve your strength and power which will make you a faster skater.
Squat Jumps: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointing forward. Squat down until your legs are just above parallel to the floor and explode upward, jumping as high as you can. Upon descent, shock absorbs like a spring being loaded by bending your knees and hips until your thighs are just above parallel and repeat your jump. Perform 3 sets of 6-12 jumps.
Split Squat Jumps: Start in a lunge position with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward and your thigh just above parallel to the floor. The majority of your weight should be placed on the front leg. Explode upward, jumping as high as you can. When in the air, switch legs so that you land with the opposite leg in front of you. Shock absorbs again by flexing your knees and hips and when your front thigh gets just over parallel, repeat the jump, switching legs again. Perform 3-6 jumps for each leg for a total of 6-12 jumps. Repeat for three total sets.
These exercises are most effective when the jumps are for maximum height and exertion. Enough time between sets is important to allow the muscles to recover and allow for maximal effort. To increase the intensity of the exercises, a kettlebell held between the legs or a weight vest may be added to the squat jumps. For the split squat jumps, dumbbells can be used in both hands, or add a weight vest.
Chris Phillips is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist and owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab with three locations in Orange County, CA . Chris’ experience includes positions with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Washington Capitals as well as the 2022 Winter Olympics with the Czech Republic Figure Skating Team.