There are many skills and attributes that go into becoming a great hockey player – skating speed is probably one of the most important to taking a player to the next level. But, how can you do that besides just skating more?
What you do in the gym can have a huge impact on unlocking your potential for speed on the ice. Here is an outline with video examples of how to maximize your skating speed. It’s a process that needs to be completed in sequential order to achieve the most results.
Step 1: It begins with core stability.
The more stable your core is, the more force you can produce with the big muscles (like glutes) that attach to it. Not only will this improve your performance, but also has implications for preventing common injuries, like low back fractures that often occur in hockey athletes. This is the most commonly skipped step in developing athletes, but is a critical component that effects all the rest of the steps in the process.
These are examples of some of the exercises that will help you improve postural control and core stability while skating. On all of these exercises, the goal is to keep your core as stable as possible so that you do not let your core bend forward or backwards while you are moving your arms or legs.
Step 2: Hip extension mobility.
Increased hip range of motion allows for a bigger push off the ice, which means improved ability to produce force. More hip extension (moving your leg behind your body) allows for your glute muscles to activate better, which means you’ll have more strength available when pushing off in your skate.
There are many ways to work on hip range of motion, including manual physical therapy treatments, but this is one great exercise for hockey athletes that you can do at home or at the gym to improve hip extension mobility.
On this exercise, you want to make sure that your body stays upright and you do the movement with your lower body. Start by going straight forward and back, then move you foot out about 45 degrees, and lastly straight out to the side. Somewhere in the range of 6-10 reps in each position is usually effective.
Step 3: Glute activation and strength.
Fully activating and strengthening glutes is perhaps the biggest key to improving your skating power and speed. Glutes are the most powerful muscle in your body and using them to their potential can have massive impacts on your performance in hockey and many other sports. These are just a few examples of some really good hockey related glute strengthening exercises.
Step 4: Functional stability.
There are many ways to train functional stability as a hockey athlete. It should focus around getting in postures and positions you’ll be in while playing and then performing various resistance and reactive exercises while maintaining your body position. Here is one good example.
Step 5: Build explosive power.
When you have a strong and stable foundation to work from, it’s time to make yourself as explosive as possible. This is what will ultimately help you improve speed the most, but has to be done in conjunction and after a foundation is established in steps 1-4. There are hundreds of variations of plyometric exercises that are good for hockey athletes. These are a few examples. I especially like the kettlebell (KB) skater swing for many of our athletes.
These 15 exercises are great for helping you improve skating speed, but by no means is this a comprehensive program. There is no substitute for working with a professional coach or trainer, but this will provide a framework and introduction to the concepts that will help you improve your speed on the ice.