The key to increased speed is less contact time with the ground or ice due to a more powerful sprinting action. As simple as this statement is, athletes will spend most of their training time on increasing speed. Team sports such as hockey make heavy demands on sprint capabilities. The truly great players are able to accelerate explosively both in defensive and offensive maneuvers. Most of your increase in speed will come with a good off-season dry land training program. Dry land sprint speed training has a crossover effect to skating.
High intensity (95-100%) sprinting should be done on the track. The increased central nervous system demand of high intensity sprinting requires complete recovery between repetitions and requires a minimum of 48 hours between sprint training sessions.
Low intensity (75% or slower) running should be done on grass and promotes circulatory/ aerobic changes and active recovery. Medium intensity (76-94%)- running should not be performed at all as it would be too slow to be specific and too fast to allow recovery within a 24 hour time frame.
A good sprinting start requires that the hips must be ahead of feet, the left arm must drive forward with full extension of hips and you exhale as you push out from the starting position. For each stride, the foot needs to clear the opposite knee and the hips should extend as the shoulders counter-rotate. In our dry land training programs, we will spend a lot of time working on drills that make a player a more efficient sprinter because this will lead to more breakout speed on the ice.
Dr. Chad Moreau is the President of HockeyOT.com, an online training site dedicated to improving the fitness level of hockey players of all levels. He was the former Strength & Conditioning/Nutrition Consultant for the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and the Long Beach Ice Dogs (ECHL). For more information please visit hockeyot.com