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Hi there: If I was only allowed one word to describe what every hockey player I work with wants I would have to say it’s speed. They want a quicker shot. They want to a faster start. Overall they just want to increase their speed in every facet of the game.

And this is probably a good thing. A quicker shot gives you a better chance to score. A faster start allows to beat your opponent in a foot race. And more speed overall makes you more of a threat when you step on the ice and makes your opponent play you accordingly with more space to respect that speed or risk getting burned.

OK so since it’s established that this is something almost every hockey player wants and needs then it is important to decide on the best way to get more speed. We’ll assume that the necessary assessments and phases of training preceding speed development have already been addressed.

One of the common ways hockey players train in order to develop more speed is by using plyometrics. And there are a few things to keep in mind when incorporating them into your workouts.

First, of all we have to recognize that plyometric training for hockey is as much about, if not more, training the nervous system than the muscular or energy systems. And the nervous system may be the last to recover after a set of plyos.

For example you may be able to carry on a normal conversation within a few seconds of completing a drill. And the muscles being worked may feel like they’re ready to go soon after. But resist this urge to go right away. With all your plyos train as though your next effort will be as good or better than the last one. If you were doing three jumps in a row and marking the distance after the third jump you want to make sure the distance on your last jump is always matched or even improved upon but never decreases.

Another tip to keep in mind with performing plyo is to control any external load being used. A strength and conditioning colleague in Texas used to say ‘does it look right and does it feel right?’ What this means is that for a given load the effort should feel appropriate and the movement should look appropriate. Consider the following.

If in the gym a hockey player might be stepping off a plyometric box and then jumping as soon as he hits the ground. If either the box height is too high or too much external load is added the time for the hockey player to leave the ground is delayed. In this case the exercise ‘didn’t look right’ in terms of having a quick transition off the ground. And if you asked the hockey player he would probably tell you that the ‘load didn’t feel right’ either.

Keep these two tips mind when performing your plyo during this hockey off-season. Don’t only ensure that your energy and muscular systems have recovered between sets but your nervous system as well. And remember to always ask yourself if an effort ‘looked and felt’ as it should. In this case, quick and explosive.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                onsidehockeytraining.com

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