As you know, Hockey is a game that can often come down to who has the extra jump on an opponent, so improving your speed on the ice is absolutely essential. But how can you improve your ice hockey speed? Do you need new
In this post, we’re going to give you our tips on how to skate faster in hockey and improve your skating speed.
Ensure Proper Ice Hockey Skating Form
There’s more to faster skating than just buying the best ice skates for hockey and hitting the ice. You should be aware of the proper form and technique. There are four keys to the proper skating form:
- Knees bent at nearly 90 degrees
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Back straight
- Head up
Regardless of how much time and effort you put in to improving, you’ll never reach your potential if you don’t practice maintaining the proper form. Nearly all of your skating power comes from below the waist, so keeping your knees bent at a 90 degree angle will allow you to take full advantage of the power of your legs.
The last three elements of ice hockey skating form on our list all have to do with balance and stability. If you’re leaning forwards or backwards, you’ll lose momentum. It may seem like leaning forward might propel you down the ice, but in reality it may slow you down due to a lack of balance. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart, your back straight and your head up will help you maintain the stability required to get the most power with every stride.
Technique and Stride
Once you’ve mastered perfect form, you should be aware of the proper skating stride. Watch your favorite NHL stars and you’ll notice three common elements to their technique. They fully extend their legs with each stride, they push as hard as they can throughout their stride and they engage they arms for a speed boost. Check out this video of the 2020 NHL Fasters Skaters Competition.
A great way to analyze your technique is to have someone record your skating stride and compare it to proper technique. Are you taking advantage of every inch of your stride, or are you losing power by cutting it short? Do you push all the way through each stride, or do you ease up at the end? Are you properly engaging your arms? Arm movement should be forward and back when you stride, not side to side. If your arms aren’t engaged or flailing side to side, you’ll lose momentum and won’t make the speed gains you’re hoping for.
Practice Sprinting Away from the Ice
Hockey is often a game of short bursts, and if you can’t get to the rink every day you can still prepare for better speed by utilizing off-ice sprints.
When sprinting off ice, choose a distance that’s relative to an in-game scenario. For example, a “dump and chase” play requires a player to go full out from the blue line to the end boards and beat the defense to the puck. This requires top speed for 70 to 75 feet depending on the rink’s dimensions. Sprint this distance, jog back to the start and repeat. This will help you develop that added burst for typical hockey skating scenerios.
Improve Power and Strength
Increasing speed on the ice takes more than just skating. You should engage in an overall fitness plan designed for ice hockey players. A great deal of strength and power development will come from work done off the ice, so it’s important to balance on-ice training with off-ice workouts.
When choosing an off-ice fitness regimen, it’s important to evaluate the types of exercises involved. You should have a balanced workout that engages your entire body. Core workouts improve balance and flexibility, leg exercises will give you the power to get the most out of every stride and a strong upper body will help you stay on the puck during contact and help maintain proper form.
There are way too many fitness routines out there to count, so it’s important that you find one that is designed specifically for ice hockey skating. These workout routines will involve exercises that directly target muscles and motions that are important to hockey players. Once you find a routine, make sure that the exercises vary from session to session. Changing it up from one session to the next challenges your body to get better and prevents boredom.
Practice Form and Technique Without Equipment
It can be advantageous to work on your skating stride outside of hockey practice or stick-and-puck session. Take some time to get out on the ice without all of your equipment and spend some time focusing entirely on your stride. Doing this will help you unconsciously maintain your form once you begin adding pads and go back to holding a stick.
Muscle memory is important, and an increased frequency of skating sessions with or without equipment will produce greater speed without having to constantly evaluate your form.
Offseason Skating Lessons
Don’t neglect your skating skills during the offseason. It’s great to play other sports and pursue other interests after hockey season is over, but in order to improve your speed it’s vital that you maintain a high level of dedication to your skating ability. If you take an extended time away from the ice, you’ll actually loose speed and have to spend time returning to your former level before improving again.
One of the best way to keep the skills alive over the summer is to attend hockey skating lessons or camps. Having a specialized ice hockey instructor will ensure that you’ll enter the next season at the top of your game and ready to continue improving your speed on the ice.
Working with a Group of Fellow Hockey Players
Finally, it’s important to fully commit to improving your ice hockey skating speed. A casual effort and going through the motions won’t get you the results that you may desire. Form a plan and stick with it. If you struggle sticking to a plan to improve, find a group to skate and workout with.
The camaraderie and competition of working in a group will push you and your fellow hockey players to be the best you can be. It will also hold you accountable to the rest of the group and motivate you to be the best among your peers.
Becoming a faster ice hockey player isn’t something that will happen overnight. It takes a plan and hard work. When formulating your plan to reach your goals to become a better, faster skater, remember to consider all of the above tips and you’ll slowly begin to increase your speed. Work at getting very small improvements and over time they will compound and before you know it, you’ll be skating faster and faster. Good luck!