Off-Ice Drills To Improve Skating Speed

October 6, 2012 | Conor Doherty

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If you want to get faster on the ice, you need to perform skating drills that mimic the game of hockey. Most games involve players battling in the corners, cycling the puck down low and breaking out in transition.

These situations require quickness and the ability to start and stop continually. Yes, top speed is important for breakaways or back checking, but it should not be the focus of your program.

Perform the following off-ice skating drills to get faster in the areas of the game that matter most (learn five keys for hockey training).

Wall Acceleration Drill

Improves your ability to push off the ice.

  • With hands against wall and arms parallel to ground, hold body at 45-degree angle
  • Keep core and lower back tight with hips forward, forming straight line from head to ankles
  • Raise right knee approximately to hip level and flex foot
  • March in alternating fashion as quickly as possible

Sets/Reps: 3x20

High Knee Runs

Emphasizes the knee drive, which is critical for preparing for the next stride after pushing off.

  • Assume athletic position
  • Slowly jog with knees high and thighs parallel to ground
  • Land on toes and drive arms with each stride
  • Repeat for specified distance

Sets/Distance: 5x15-20 yards


Nothing improves speed acceleration better than a forward sprint.

  • Assume starting stance
  • Sprint for specified distance

Sets/Distance: 10x10-15 yards

Sled Drags/Pushes

This exercise increases lower-body power, which is essential for quickly accelerating from a dead stop.

  • Attach sled belt to waist
  • Assume start position with body at 45-degree angle
  • Drive off rear leg to begin sprint; maintain 45-degree angle
  • Continue sprinting with powerful arm and leg drive for specified distance

Sets/Distance: 5-10x10-20 yards

Box Jumps

Increase stride power, which translates to increased speed.

  • Assume athletic stance arm's length away from plyo box
  • Lower into quarter-squat, then explode through hips, knees and ankles to jump for maximum height
  • Land softly with bent knees on top of plyo box
  • Step down slowly; repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x10-15; start with 12-inch box and progress to 24-inch box

Barrier Jumps

Improves side-to-side power, an important component of skating that cannot be mimicked with straight-ahead drills.

  • Assume athletic stance next to 12-inch hurdle
  • Slightly bend knees and explode up to jump over hurdle
  • Land softly and immediate repeat in opposite direction
  • Continue for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x20

Click here for more info on hockey training.

Conor Doherty
- Conor Doherty, PTS, is an athletic trainer in Dryden, Ontario, who specializes in sports performance. The majority of his clients are hockey players. Learn more...
Conor Doherty
- Conor Doherty, PTS, is an athletic trainer in Dryden, Ontario, who specializes in sports performance. The majority of his clients are hockey players. Learn more...
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