The hardest part of my job is educating parents and coaches by having them understand the facts and myths about off-ice development. Most of all understanding that it’s a long-term process whereby there’s no quick fix or secret training method to develop speed overnight. And let’s understand that the word ‘development’ means ‘process, growth, advancement’, and that takes time.
I understand the high expectations of wanting results overnight, but it simply doesn’t work like that. I’ve had many conversations with parents and coaches who think they know what their player needs when most of the time it’s just about letting them grow into their body. In my professional experience as an off-ice strength trainer the best approach is to always be straight up and give the facts. Then simply tell them to just trust the process, and trust in my experience to get their players the results they need.
When I mean trust me, I don’t mean putting blind faith into the hope that they see results. My job is to prove results by measuring a player’s progress and in turn, testing their performance and recording their results. At the end of the day, if a player is simply stronger and more mobile, they should be able to generate more power into their skating stride and see a big difference in their first step quickness. This leads into the three things you need to know to create first step quickness.
#1. THE DEEP SQUAT TEST
If your player cannot perform a deep squat, I mean butt to the ground….then they are definitely limiting their potential for speed. Player’s that don’t have full range of motion at the hip, and ankle joints and have poor flexibility will lack the power needed in a skating stride to be faster, it’s that simple. Start by seeing someone who specializes in what’s called Active Release Technique. They will help with any mobility issues and have a player feeling better instantly the next time they step on the ice.
#2. FLEXIBLITY AND MOBILITY
Muscles are like elastic bands that harness a lot of power. Think about the farther you stretch that elastic band how much power is behind it. Now take a stronger elastic band and stretch it, you can easily see how much more power it has. Players must take stretching seriously on a daily basis. Performing specific flexibility and mobility exercises will help a player not only feel better and feel faster on the ice, but it will help prevent them from getting injured.
#3. STRENGTH TRAINING
If your player is at an elite level or pursuing to make a jump to major midget or junior, they better start a strength training program. Player’s not only need to protect themselves from impacts on the ice by being stronger, but lower body strength is what’s going to give a player the power to generate more speed on the ice. The best investment parents can make is in a strength program for their player.
And that’s it! Players need mobility, even coaches know that. And they need to be flexible enough to enable efficient mobility on the ice. Now just add strength and power to the equation and you have just created a very strong foundation for increasing first step quickness. There is no secret to developing speed, but there is a proper process and specific exercises that will make the difference. And while understanding that it’s a long-term development process, by taking the right steps immediately, players can see a significant difference in their speed in as little as six weeks.
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