Here are some exercises to increase your speed on the ice this hockey season
In hockey, speed kills. The sport is punishing to say the least, so being able to keep your legs moving at high speeds is an important skill.
In 2005, the National Hockey League (NHL) implemented a new set of rules to speed up the game, such as eliminating the two-line pass rule and penalizing holding and hooking infractions. Since then, the grinding style of play, which rewarded slower but stronger players, has begun to go out of style.
In professional hockey today, every team is looking for players who have the speed necessary to accelerate past defenders. Connor McDavid, one of the fastest and most skilled players in the NHL, is proof of that. To get that fast, he has been training every summer since high school with former player and renowned fitness guru, Gary Roberts, according to the Globe and Mail. Roberts has trained elite players like Steven Stamkos and Phil Kessel, whose games are focused on speed.
Here is a list of some of the best exercises you can do to increase your leg strength, balance and speed to be just like the pros.
Hill Sprints: This exercise is the perfect way to build up explosiveness in your legs. Being able to draw power from your quads, even while exhausted, is a way to gain an advantage over opponents in the final minutes of a game. Former Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference told the Globe and Mail this exercise helped him improve his athleticism. “I pick the steepest hill I can find,” he said. “It teaches me to deal with tired legs. I will never feel that exhausted in a hockey game.”
Squats: This relatively simple exercise is integral for building lower-body strength. Its many variations can isolate specific muscle groups or simply add another layer of difficulty to a workout. For example, the one-legged squat not only works on building the quadriceps but also develops balance. Jaromir Jagr, the oldest active player in the NHL at 45 years old, has been doing 1,000 squats everyday since he was seven, according to the New York Times.
Box Jumps: This is another exercise designed to help build powerful leg muscles. New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, known for his ability to beat opponents in open ice, uses this in his workouts. His trainer, Ben Bruno, told Men’s Journal that this helps make Kreider’s legs “as strong and powerful as possible.” Bruno added that the box jump exercise “improves his conditioning so that he can express that strength and power over the duration of a long game and a long season.”
Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth