Fast hockey players have numerous reasons why they are fast.
They have, in most cases, good skating biomechanics. They are strong and powerful, which is a combination of genetics and conditioning. Fast players have a predominance of fast twitch muscle fibres which have the ability to generate a lot of power. They have well-developed muscle memory.
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We have known the biomechanics of fast skaters for 45 years.
Pierre Page was the first person to investigate the biomechanical differences between fast and slow players in 1975. Since then, numerous researchers, including the author, have conducted studies to investigate differences between fast and slow players, as well as the biomechanics of fast players.
The biomechanical characteristics of fast hockey players are as follows:
- Wide stride
- Arms move side-to-side
- The skates get back on the ice quickly after push-off
- The recovery skate lands under the shoulder, and gets on the inside edge quickly to start the next push-off.
- Deep knee bend before push-off
- Significant forward lean as they skate faster
Watch the 2020 NHL fastest skater competition to see the characteristics of fast players:
Genetics and muscle fibre type
There are three types of muscle fibres:
- Slow twitch: contract slower and are better for long distance/endurance sports.
- Fast twitch: have the ability to contract fast and produce a lot of power.
- Super fast twitch: contract extremely fast and would make a player exceptionally fast.