Walshy’s World: The Need for Speed

Our resident health and fitness expert, Cam Walsh, gives you some insight on improving speed and velocity for hockey via some dry land training methodology.

By Cameron Walsh

At the start of last year I put together a piece about speed components, agility and reaction. That was a while ago, and as the NHL season is upon us, I thought I should pop another article up around the other factors of speed: acceleration, maximum velocity, and speed endurance.

These are important factors in being a dynamic athlete in team sports where you need to be able to get to top speed as quickly as possible and stay at top speed for as long as your ‘effort’ requires.

Acceleration is the rate of change in velocity.

It is typically implied speed over the first 5-10 meters (15-30 feet). However in hockey and other team sports it is the rate of change in velocity from different starting points and moving positions. Therefore acceleration means the rate of change from stationary starts, gliding starts, and change of direction starts, all of these need to be trained.

Maximum Velocity is the highest velocity attained during a speed effort.

Maximum velocity is usually attained around 30-40 meters (90-120 feet) in the speed effort. That being said in hockey it is basically once you finish the acceleration, due to the smaller space on the ice.

Speed Endurance is the ability to repeat speed efforts with limited diminishment of performance, also the ability to maintain top speed for as long as possible.

All of these components can be trained specifically to improve each one of them. Much like computer games you improve one and it can be slightly detrimental to your ability in the other category, that is until you have them all improved to maximum of your ability.

A few reminder points in relation to the entire session you go through for your acceleration, max velocity and speed endurance sessions (these are the same as the previous post), all 5 sub factors of speed need to be trained under these conditions:

• Keep the distances and times short (10-40m/30-120ft)/ (2-10s), reactive drills can be slightly longer in time.

• Your rest period is very important, use a ratio of 1:7 so you can replenish enough to put in maximum effort again and again and again. Remember the session is short, you are trying to get quicker.

  • Total distance for the entire session, yes that is right, entire session should be no more than 500m, any longer than that and you start working on aerobic conditioning, and you change the focus of the session. Just quickly, aerobic conditioning is improving your heart to pump blood more efficiently. Allowing more oxygen to get to your muscles and organs.

An example of a short dry land session designed to improve on this posts 3 sub qualities of speed:

Dynamic warm up: you want to get the blood flowing through your muscles, so make sure your movements are quick but not totally ballistic that you pull or tear a muscle.

Acceleration Drill: Jog Start for 10m/30ft accelerate to 25m/75ft do these 6 times at a ratio of 1:9 (rest).

Maximum Velocity: Jog to 10m/30ft, sprint to 40m/120ft do these 5 times, at a ratio of 1:12 (rest)

Speed Endurance: This is improved through the session with your ability to maintain 100% effort in each drill. The more often you do drills like this, the less and less your top speed will fall away towards the end of the session.

This is something I hope you can all take away and utilize in some way shape or form to help you along the way.

Yours in fitness