Sprint Based Hockey: the Cutting Edge for Hockey Coaches

Chris Kerr

Chris Kerr is the Director of Sports Performance for Liberty University Hockey, a position he has held since 2014. He attended Liberty University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science (2014) and a Master of Science degree in Human Performance (2019). In his first year working with Liberty Hockey, the Women’s D1 team won their first of several ACHA National Championships. Prior to Liberty, Chris had zero hockey experience as a coach or player. This has enabled him to approach the game unbiased, learn from renowned experts at the highest levels, and present his Coaches and Players with new, cutting-edge methods, not yet commonplace in the hockey world. In addition to training his Liberty players in the offseason, Chris also trains players at the youth, AAA, and professional levels.

He may be reached by email at [email protected]

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Sprint Based Hockey will be demonstrated as a system that gives coaches what they want but do not know how to develop - faster players.
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It’s Tuesday evening, practice is almost over. Looking over the practice sheet quickly, Coach nods in approval at the grueling, sweat pouring, hard working drills performed tonight. Only one piece is missing. Coach blows the whistle and shouts “on the line.” A classic. The bag skate begins. 

It’s now Friday evening, in the locker room after a 5-2 loss. Coach cannot believe how slow the team was and how out of shape they looked. More bag skating on Tuesday. May not even have pucks for the last half.

And so the cycle begins.

Does this sound like your team? A team you were on? A team you know of?

Hockey coaches want fast players who can repeat high speeds throughout every shift. The problem is, most coaches do not know how to make players fast. They rely more on what they did versus modern science and human physiology. They never cultivate speed properly and simply exhaust players during practice. 

Introducing Sprint Based Hockey

Sprint Based Hockey is a system that slightly modifies classic practice layouts to prioritize fast and fresh over slow and tired. It is best utilized by an organization that emphasizes short shifts and high intensity speeds during games.

In order to get fast, players must skate fast. This is achieved through organizations viewing speed as a skill, having that awareness throughout a practice, and not over conditioning players at the end of practices. 

Track coaches, whose jobs rely on getting athletes fast, have known about this for years. You cannot have an athlete run 17 mph (27 km/h) all week at practice and expect them to sprint 22 mph (35 km/h) at a competition. In the same way, you wouldn’t train for the 100m dash by practicing triathlons. 

Despite this, hockey coaches around the world, at all levels, train their players to be slow during practice but expect them to be fast during games. Or maybe they have a well planned practice, but never give players time to sprint as fast as possible with complete rest before the next sprint. Rest? I know. Blasphemy. 

Now, speed is not the only factor in winning hockey games, but it is foolish for coaches to not address it, or worse, stunt it. The game has changed. Big plays come from speed to blow past defenders or to create time and space for a scoring opportunity. Throughout this article, Sprint Based Hockey will be demonstrated as a system that gives coaches what they want but do not know how to develop – faster players. 

Sprint Based Hockey will be demonstrated as a system that gives coaches what they want but do not know how to develop - faster players . . .

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