Ever wonder why you train on dry land when you play your game on ice? Jim Snider, strength and conditioning coach for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, answers some questions to clear the confusion.
STACK: How much dry-land training can hockey players use to improve speed?
JS: They can do a lot—maybe more than most other athletes—to increase their speed. Use strength training in the weight room and plyometrics, which specifically affects what happens during each stride.
What’s more important for hockey: top-end speed or acceleration?
JS: Acceleration, because hockey is a push, a push and then gliding. There’s really not a whole lot of top-end speed. We do acceleration starts, where we begin in a lunge position rather than standing, because from there, the angle of the joint is much more acceleration-based.
What are some of the biggest mistakes athletes make when training for hockey speed?
JS: Many hockey players want to do joint stiffness training, like mini hurdle hops or speed ladder drills, but those are no good for hockey because they promote top-end speed. You’re in a vertical position without much flex in the joints. They do nothing for acceleration.
What lifts won’t really help a hockey player’s speed?
JS: Everybody loves the Hang Clean. But I don’t know what they do for a hockey player, besides putting eccentric loading on the spine. Again, hockey is about acceleration; the Hang Clean is for top-end speed. If you want to pull from a hang position, pull off blocks to develop starting strength. That’s what you need for hockey.
What about Power Cleans? Should a player do those?
JS: For sure. To me, the Power Clean is the ultimate exercise, because its long application of force carries over well into the game.