While most hockey players have an understanding of how they could shoot better, block better and steal the puck more easily, they often have trouble improving one aspect of their game. That’s their skating speed, and you might not think that this is something that can really be improved upon, but there are some exercises that will make a difference in how fast a hockey player skates and how quickly they move around the rink.
Imagine the difference it would make if you could skate much, much faster. You could greatly improve your entire game as a result. Let’s look at a few exercises you can do that will help with that.
1. Romanian Deadlift
We will start with one of the most effective exercises for boosting skate speed, and that’s the Romanian deadlift. It sounds more imposing than it actually is because you only need a hockey stick to do it. Once you get good at it and you can handle the basic movement, you can add in a barbell or a couple dumbbells to build muscle and make this a more extreme, demanding routine.
The basic motion requires that you hold the hockey stick by your waist, flexing your knees slightly and allowing your arms to hang straight down. Then you lower the stick down to the knees while keeping the knees in the same position. This uses a hip hinge movement and creates power in the thighs.
2. Resistance Sprint
You will need a partner for this exercise, and it is as simple as skating with someone holding onto the back of you. It works best if you use resistance bands and have your partner skating behind you. Then you work your way across the rink as fast as possible, back and forth to build up those leg muscles. Resistance builds muscles, so when you have someone pulling on you as you try to skate, you will naturally build up these muscles used in speed skating.
3. Fire Hydrants
You will skate faster if your hips are stronger and more mobile. A lot of your skate speed comes from the hips, so be sure that you work the hips to not just strengthen them but to also make them more flexible. One way to do that is to perform an exercise known as fire hydrants. This requires that you get down on all fours and lift your leg to the side, holding it at that angle for two counts.
This needs to be a 90 degree angle, if you can manage it, and you can do three sets of eight reps with this exercise. After each rep, just lower the leg to the starting position and begin again. It’s very simple and requires no additional equipment, which is why we wanted to have it on this list.
Your equipment is important, though. If you don’t have the appropriate skates, then you won’t be able to skate well, and that’s why you should be using resources like Bat Critic to learn how different skates have been rated and find a pair that works well for you.
4. Wall Drill
It’s easy to get into a rut with your skating while playing hockey. You find a skating method that works well for you and settle into it, and then trying to grow from there and improve or change becomes incredibly difficult. In order to get out of that corner, you have put yourself in and challenge your methods and escape your plateaus, you can use the wall drill exercise.
This is as simple as standing about three or four feet from the wall and placing your hands on the wall while you lean forward. Your body should be at a 45 degree angle at that point. Your arms should be straight in this position. From there, bring your knee up until your thigh is in a parallel line with the floor. Then bring your foot down and bring up your other knee in the same way. Alternate back and forth for the entire set, which should be about four sets of five reps for each leg.
5. One Leg Squat
Regular squats are decent for building up your leg muscles, but hockey players need to take things to more of an extreme than other kinds of athletes because this sport is more demanding. Single leg squats are an excellent way to do that. You can do this while you are standing on a box or while you squat onto a box. This exercise gives you better control and a stronger lower body, and when those two factors work together, you can move quickly across the ice and around the other players.
It’s likely that every one of these exercises will hurt at first, as you move your muscles in new ways, but that’s good for you. The pain generally means that muscles are developing and being worked in new ways, and that’s going to lead to improved strength and ultimately faster skate speed. If you want to skate faster, then start incorporating these exercises into your workout routine.