Walshy’s World: The Need For Speed Pt. 1

In between breaking down key injuries and their rehabilitation, our resident health and fitness expert Cameron Walsh will be sharing his insights on taking your hockey training to the next level. Here is part one of his series on increasing your skating speed.

By Cameron Walsh

I know a lot of you out there are actually getting the chance to play hockey (unlike some of us) and may want to do a little more off the ice to improve your fitness in your game. Over the season I am going to throw in a few training tips here at From The Point seeing as at dluxe I don’t have anyone who is hockey specific to share this with and I think you guys will get some value out of it, plus I will enjoy doing it. As always the comments section is there for questions and I will be more than happy to clear anything up or expand on something if you need.

This was going to be about how to improve your speed but as you read down you will be able to see why I have set this post up as an introduction to speed and what I want to cover off in the immediate future, it was just turning into a novel almost like a lecture or text (not what I was wanting to achieve). So below is the introduction to ‘The need for Speed: Part 1’

Speed can be broken down in to 5 sub qualities, all of which are vital to a hockey player:

1.  Reaction

2.  Agility

3.  Acceleration

4.  Maximum Speed or Velocity

5.  Speed Endurance

In this post I will introduce the sub qualities of reaction and agility, two aspects we all know are important on the ice but can be worked on whilst you are off it.

A couple of quick definitions:

Reaction is the time taken to react to a stimulus; it is closely related to agility.

Obviously the quicker you react to changes around you on the ice the more open space you can create for yourself, the quicker you can get to the puck, or close the gap between yourself and player coming at you.

Agility is the ability to change direction with minimal loss from top speed.

The quicker a hockey players’ feet the more likely they are to be able to get a stick in a lane that wasn’t expected, skate in a phone booth, go the dreaded east/west when penalty killing fast.

What we want to create are quick feet; the quicker your brain can tell your feet to move to the stimulus the better you are going to be (motor learning). Simple drills involving ladders, hurdles, tyres, cones, lines, even trees can all help with reaction and agility.

Training sessions for improving any of the speed variables don’t need to very long; 15 minutes maximum time is all it takes.

The sessions are short because the intensity is very high, you are working at 90-95% of your personal bests, and basically you are giving your best effort every single time, no exceptions.

Because of this, you must perform your speed sessions when you are ‘fresh’, look at your schedule, see when you will be primed to complete a speed session, obviously you don’t need a lot of time, however you do need the focus and energy to commit to the session.

There are many different types of exercises and drills to improve your reaction and agility skills, in my next post I will put up a session based around what a hockey player could do for a 15 minute speed session focusing on these to sub qualities of speed.

A few more pointers to remember when doing a speed based session for reaction and agility, these will be important with the session I post:

•  Keep the distances and times short (10-40m)/ (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.

Note: For your distances, because they are so short you can convert them straight over, meters to yards; 10 meters = 10 yards.

Let the fun and games begin.

Yours in fitness