Boston University hockey strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle offers five tips to help you put some sizzle in your skates in the weight room:
1. Strengthen your spindly sticks. The simplest way to get faster is to improve lower-body strength. The Terriers use an array of lower-body exercises—including Front Squats, One-Leg Straight-Leg Deadlifts and One-Leg Squats—to develop muscles needed for on-ice speed. During the off-season, BU trains the lower body two or three times a week.
2. Put the “fun” back in “functional.” Mirror muscles get off-ice gawks, but unless you train muscles to glide across the frozen pond, then you’re going to be gazing into the boards all game. The Terriers focus on both single- and double-leg strength when they hit the weight room.
3. Portable power. Power is different from strength because it adds a speed component. When power factors into the equation, speed contraction and time become critical. Power training exercises include Hang Cleans, Snatches, Kettlebell Swings, and forms or jumping with an external load.
4. Strength, specifically speaking. After developing general, raw strength and promoting it with powerful speed components, focus on enhancing strength and movements that specifically transfer to speed. BU uses pushing sleds to develop angle specificity and mimic on-ice maneuvers.
5. Flex those new muscles. Improving your range of motion is essential. Hockey players tend to overstretch their groin muscles and understretch their hip flexors. To fortify flexibility, the Terriers stretch before and after each workout and practice.
Used consistently and concurrently, strength, functional strength, power, specific strength and range of motion will improve goal-line-to-blue-line speed. Point of reference: top Terrier players cover that distance in about 2.6 seconds, with an average time of about 2.8.