The slideboard is a unique training tool that can help develop and aid in an athlete’s training. Slideboard training has been well known in the winter sports community for its effectiveness in off-ice cross-training though its benefits are not only for those specific athletes.
Taking the slideboard and using it for athletes in a variety of sports has shown to be beneficial in offering a tough, yet low-impact, conditioning option, as well as challenging athletes in the lateral plane of movement, unlike any other piece of training equipment.
This article will discuss not only the training benefits offered through the slideboard, but also show a comprehensive exercise selection guide to allow you to start building a foundation of training with the slideboard.
The slide board is one of the toughest pieces of equipment to perform conditioning with! Whether it be performing an interval series of aggressive slides, or going on the clock to perform a set of mountain climbers the board will exhaust you in the best possible way.
Its effectiveness is due to the fact that these exercises are performed at a much lower impact than standard running and jumping. Along with a low entry to participate this creates an ideal situation to increase conditioning, yet spare the wear and tear on the body and joints.
In theory, you could apply almost any conditioning protocol to the slideboard, but I find it works best with high-intensity, short-interval, or tabatta-style protocols. Protocols that focus on a 1:1, 1:2, or above work-to-rest ratio. I would not recommend attempting to perform long, slow, steady-state cardio on the slide board.
The slide board puts a major emphasis on developing lateral movement. The primary exercise of sliding is all about this. This is important for athletes because few sports are performed without the need for lateral speed and agility, although there aren’t as many specific training tools to help develop this ability.
While there are several other exercises that can be performed to develop the musculature needed for explosive lateral speed none will quite compare to the slides.
Sliding can be performed in a high, or low position, and even be performed with a cross-body tap to emphasize the deep knee-angled position required for cutting and change of direction movements.
When performing the slides you do want to make sure to forcefully explode and drive away from the frame, pushing off of the edges of the foot. The key is controlling your body and decelerating when coming to the next stop. Few in the field of the sport get injured on the take-off or initiation of movement, but rather the deceleration or sudden stop, or change of direction.
Begin slow on the slides and gradually progress in speed as you feel more comfortable. You can also progress in body position working from a high position down to a lower position.
While the slideboard has demonstrated its ability to help better physically prepare athletes through its conditioning and movement training it’s the slow, controlled movements that build up the durability required in sport. Utilizing the slideboard in mobility-based exercises can be used to build some insurance and resiliency in the smaller muscle groups of the hips and shoulders.
While these exercises can be performed without the slideboard, I do like the free flow and glide when performing on the slide board. One of the benefits of performing your mobility exercises on the board.
The slide board allows freedom for exercises and is really only limited by a coach’s resourcefulness. Along with some of the board basics, such as slides and mobility movements, the board is great to develop single-leg strength, and strength through the trunk and spine, and even be utilized to develop the upper body.
The exercises shown below can fit into several of the training buckets mentioned. A lateral lunge for example is a great exercise to develop durability in the adductors, as well as being a special strength exercise to help develop lateral speed. There are a lot of crossovers and exercises are only as effective as how they are prescribed by the coach in the larger training plan.
Single Leg Exercises:
Unilateral training is necessary for complete athletic development. Performing various lunges and movements, in different positions, and at different speeds will keep the exercise selection fresh, yet also allow for appropriate progressions in the exercises.
Movements such as reverse lunges can be executed with maximum intent on the slideboard forcing more support leg stability and hip flexor engagement of the leg sliding back.
While you may have performed some of these exercises before, they offer something completely different on the slideboard.
Using the slideboard to perform leg curls is an absolute game-changer. The position of the hips and the need to drive through the heels throughout the movement will blast the hamstrings and help strengthen a typically weaker area in most athletes.
Start slow and progress, beginning with an eccentric only double leg curl, and working your way up the ladder to even performing the movement with a single leg!
Trunk & Upper Body Training:
I’m linking the trunk and upper body together in this section because the exercises will require tremendous amounts of strength and stability in each. Performing any of these exercises will be futile if you have one without the other.
Applying these movements to a conditioning protocol is a great way to challenge your conditioning or focus more on the upper body if that is more relevant to your sport.
The slideboard is becoming more of a well-known training tool, and for good reason. While it may seem to just be a gimmick piece of equipment only useful for slides, in reality, it is a fantastic piece of training equipment that can offer several benefits to athletes. It is one of the best low-impact conditioning tools, one of the few options that focus on developing lateral movement, and offers a fun, unique option for exercises to develop total body strength.
If able or given the chance I would highly recommend sprinkling in some slide board training into your program.