Can sprinting make you faster on the ice?
Yes, if done correctly!
Sprinting can definitely help improve on-ice speed for hockey players. However, it is important to understand the similarities and differences between the two movements.
Sprinting shares many similarities to skating especially during the acceleration phase. The mechanics of the hip, knee, and ankle closely resemble each other during this phase. What makes the hockey stride unique from sprinting is the frictionless environment of the sport.
The hockey stride has two distinct phases the glide phase and the propulsion phase. The glide phase consists of unilateral support (single leg) and the propulsion phase consists of bilateral support (double leg). Due to low friction created by the ice and the hockey skate, hockey players have longer ground contact times when compared to sprinting.
In sprinting ground contact time (GCT) during the initial acceleration phase is .185 (off the stating block) to .13sec (at the end of the acceleration phase). In hockey, the GCT during the same initial phase is .28 – 0.5sec (Behm, 2005; Mann, 2015).
Despite the differences in GCT sprinting can be an excellent way to build linear speed in hockey players. Hockey players benefit the most from short distance sprints ranging from 10-20m (30-50 feet). This distance mimics the GCT seen on the ice and decreases the risk of injury.
Here is a simple linear sprint progression we bring hockey players through:
All sprints are performed at 10m (30 feet) with 2-3 minutes rest between sets. (well get videos of these exercises up on a future post)
Phase 1: Static Starts: All sprints in the phase are done form a stationary start. The goal is to get the athlete into the correct acceleration position.
Exercises: Fall Over Sprint, Staggered Feet Sprint, Lunge Start Sprint, and Push Up Sprint
Phase 2: Partner Static Starts: In this phase, competition is introduced. We perform the same exercises as above and play tag. We have Athlete 1 starts on the line and Athlete 2 starts about 5 feet in front of Athlete 1. On “GO” Athlete 1 tries to catch Athlete 2 while Athlete 2 tries to avoid being caught.
Phase 3: DynamicStarts: In phase three we introduce dynamic starts. Exersice includes; Backpedal to Sprint, Jog to Sprint, and Lateral Bound to Sprint. We will perform all of these exercises with a partner to create competition and increase top speed.
Phase 4: At this point, we have developed a strong foundation. During this phase, we will include some change of direction to our linear sprint drills.
The goal of sprint training in hockey is to help hockey players get faster on the ice, not to make world-class sprinters. When performed correctly short distance sprints can help hockey players increase their speed on the ice!
Behm, D. W. (2005). Relationship Between Hockey Skating Speed And Selected Performance Measures. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19 (2), 326-331.
Mann, R. (2015). The Mechanics of Sprinting and Hurdling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.