Skating is one of the skills in hockey that separates top players from everyone else. The ability to exhibit explosive speed on the ice is a valuable asset to add to your hockey skills. Genetics help, and practicing your stride with different skating drills is important, but training off the ice to build powerful legs also plays a role.
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Interval training refers to performing an exercise at a high intensity or speed, followed by an exercise at a lower intensity, and repeating the interval. An example is sprinting for a set time or distance, followed by a short recovery period of walking, then sprinting again. Interval training mimics the actions a hockey player takes during a game, where coasting rest periods follow bursts of speed. Interval training is effective for building skating strength.
Since skating power has almost everything to do with the strength of your legs, performing regular squats as part of your routine is beneficial. Squats can be done with dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, gym machines or your own body weight. You might want to vary heavier lifting days with lighter ones to balance strength and endurance, but each variation should be performed with a straight back and thighs about parallel to the ground at the bottom of the movement.
Plyometrics refers to different jumping exercises and is effective for building explosive leg strength for different sports, including hockey. A basic move is to squat down and jump as high as you can, then repeat. You can also utilize wooden boxes or benches and weights such as medicine balls to create even more power.
Running against gravity is an effective way to build the power in your legs and a wise choice for off-ice hockey training. Hill sprints can be performed outside on an actual hill or on a treadmill using the incline feature. Walk down the hill after each sprint to recover and prepare for the next round. On the treadmill, pick a time to sprint uphill, then lower the incline and walk to recover.
Slide Board Exercises
Training for the hockey season wouldn’t be complete without slide board exercises. You can purchase a commercial slide board, but can also make one for $30 to $40, coat it with floor polish and you’re ready to go. Exercising on a slide board is by far and away the next best thing to being on the ice. The basic side-to-side movement performed on the slippery surface helps you avoid groin and hip flexor pulls when you hit the ice at the beginning of hockey season. Anchor one foot against the stopper at the edge of the slide board and lower down into a squat activating your core, glutes, quads and hamstrings. Push off with that foot and glide across the board until your other foot makes contact with the stopper on the other side of the slide board. Use your arms to drive you and increase the expended effort you put into the exercise.