The speed to compete (and full front flip)

When I saw this video the first time my heart lept up into my throat TWICE!

Once when I saw Turning Pro goalie Carter Hutton actually beat the Sabres d-man to the puck and the second time when I saw him do a full front flip in all his gear. Well, technically, I guess it was a half a flip because he landed on his head…then got up and skated back to his crease.

If you missed it, here’s what it looked like (there will be a short commercial before the video plays, but just hang in there, it is worth it)

I was happy to see his speed on this play and his durability. Always great to see a goalie’s hard work in the off-season pay off on the ice.

So how do you get speed like that?

Let me be clear that I am not suggesting that you race out to the blue line for poke checks. In most cases, probably not the best strategy, but those powerful legs will still help you work in your office below the circles.

See how low Carter gets in his legs – that is like loading a slingshot; the further you pull it back, the more power you will get. You need to maintain what I call the “loaded legs” position whenever the puck is in your end.

You cannot waste time constantly resetting. The exercise I have for you today will help.

The exercise I have for you today will also help you conserve energy. Let’s say it currently takes you a medium or medium hard push to move laterally from post to post.

What if you could do the exact same movement at the exact same speed, but use 20% less energy? That would add up nicely wouldn’t it? You will always be tired when you come off the ice after a game, unless of course your team is so dominant that they keep the puck buried in your opponent’s end. That probably doesn’t happen too often.

And what if your regular medium or medium-hard push got you post to post 20% faster – that would be nice too wouldn’t it. Always nice to see a forward look skyward after you make a confident save on what he thought was a sure goal.

This exercise delivers… NOT your average Deadlift

I am a fan of Deadlifts for building strong skating glutes (in the strength and conditioning biz we call it the “posterior chain” which is the chain of muscle including your calves, hamstrings, glutes and back extensors). We use regular deadlifts and stiff legged deadlifts, but we never use the straight barbell for our regular deadlifts.

The reason is best explained by one of my virtual mentors Mike Boyle who is the guy behind any successful hockey strength coach. You name ‘em and they have been influenced by Coach Boyle.

Anyway, what Coach Boyle says is that you cannot barbell deadlift heavy and safely (or something like that)

It is simple physics. You need to hold your forward trunk angle until the bar clears your knees, then you can bring your hips forward otherwise you would be smashing the bar off your shins.

I am not saying barbell deadlift is a bad exercise. If you are a powerlifter it is one of your key competitive lifts. My job is to find the most effective way to get the adaptation while reducing the risk of injury.

At RevCon we use the Hex Bar (or Trap Bar). It let’s the athlete stand in the centre of the bar to lift, so there is no worrying about the shins.

In case you are not familiar, here’s what it looks like…

We actually had to buy a bigger bar this off-season because our guys were loading the bar up with so many 45lbs plates that there was no room to add more. It is pretty awesome.

With goalies, like Carter that I train online, I cannot always include this amazing strength exercise for skating power because they do not have access to the equipment.

I find the same thing when we train teams at RevCon, when we have 15 players training at one time, it slows the process to have them setting up the hex bars, changing plates, etc.

So this is what we have been doing instead…

I am even using it as a foundation movement with some of my elite private clients from other sports like soccer and track and field. Letting them work on the pattern using the Landmine set up before we get into the actual bar.

It is an amazing exercise because it is easy to get into the right starting position, you can start with a relatively light load for this lift and check the pattern, but then we can load it up to get good resistance on it.

How Much, How Many?

When I use it during the base phase of training (what we call the Movement phase), we do 8-12 reps with a slow tempo down (3-4 seconds) at a relatively light load. This is to let the player practice the pattern, put the muscle and connective tissue under sustained tension to increase the strength and resilience of the connective tissue (with the goal of reducing your risk of injury down the road) and to limit the load they can put on the bar because of the volume and control required.

When we use this leg exercise during the Strength phase of our hockey training program then you use the four rep range with a steady 2-0-1-1 tempo and a heavy load (as long as your technique is perfect throughout the entire range.

So next time you are in the gym, give it a try. Feel that you are getting a good pure movement at your hip while stabilizing your back and torso. Feel how you are using your butt muscles to drive the hips forward as you lift the load. Feel your glutes as you go up the stairs the next day 🙂


PS – if you want more strength exercises for goalies that will actually help you become a more dynamic and durable goalie without trashing your hips and knees, then you probably want to check out the ShutOut Academy for only $1 (that’s right – all of the training programs, videos and bonuses to try out for 7-days)