Training for speed on the ice is extremely important, and players at the youth level don’t do enough of it. Strength is a major component of speed. The stronger your legs are, the harder you can push against the ice. Once my guys achieve a certain level of strength, I take them on the ice and have them do six reps of short sprints, which we use because most hockey players never get to top speed. The guys start at the goal line and finish through the near blue line. There is no puck, but they hold their sticks in one hand. I use a 6:1 work-to-rest ratio and perform the drill twice a week during pre-season.
Achieving acceleration in your start is essential, because that determines how quickly you gain speed. You want your initial three or four steps to be aggressive pushes against the ice, with good extension coming from your legs. I don’t want to see choppy strides at the start, because the fewer steps the better. One thing I always tell my guys is try to feel the sensation of cutting ice, because the guy who shaves the most ice is the guy who moves the fastest.
Mike Boyle is the co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, whose clientele includes NHL stars Chris Drury and Brendan Shanahan.