Hockey players are not sprinters and should not be treated like one!
Quick feet drills such as ladder drills and line drills will not make you a faster and more powerful hockey player.
The game of hockey consists of short powerful bursts of rapid acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. In the race for the puck, the athlete who is able to accelerate the fastest will win.
Why Ladder and Line Drills Do Not Work
These drills place an emphasis on quick feet. In hockey, the ground contact time is much longer due to the nature of the skating stride. Hockey players will benefit from drills that teach them to put as much force as possible into the ground. This will improve acceleration and carry over to on the ice speed.
On a side note, when performing ladder and line drills athletes are often in a tall posture and looking down at their feet. This position does not reinforce the movement patterns and postures seen on the ice.
Train For Acceleration, Deceleration, and Transitional Speed In All Directions
Success in hockey is all about being able to accelerate quickly, stop, and move in any direction as quickly as possible. The players who accelerate and decelerate rapidly in any direction are usually the best on the ice.
There are three types of speed that need to be trained in hockey: Linear, Transitional, and Curvilinear.
Linear Speed: The focus is on straight-line speed forward and backward.
Transitional Speed: Speed in every direction or change in speed. Forward to backward, backward to forward, and all movements in any direction
Curvilinear Speed: Speed in any turning or crossover pattern forward or backward. This is best trained on the ice (as long as the player is comfortable on their edges). Training for improved linear and transitional speed off the ice will improve curvilinear speed on the ice.
Focus on sprinting drills between 10 and 15 yards. This mimics on-ice acceleration and helps minimize the risk of injury. Once the distance exceeds 20 yards the risk for a hamstring injury increases (remembers most hockey players are not the best runners!).
Keep the rest long! Rest as long as needed. When training to improve speed you must be fully recovered. If you are breathing heavily do not start your next sprint. Rest periods are usually 90s to 3 minutes.
Keep the volume low. Try and keep speed training distances between 150 and 200 yards TOTAL. A typical day would include 6x10yds sprints followed by 6x15yds sprints (150 total running yards)
Require Rapid Deceleration. Give yourself or the athlete a 5-8yds to decelerate and come to a full stop. This will help prepare the athlete to decelerate rapidly on the ice.
I hope this helps you rethink your off-ice speed training. If you need help and/or have any questions let me know! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org