What are the best hockey training shoes?

Hey gang, back at you to talk a little bit about training shoes.

I remember when I got my first big strength and conditioning job, I was the Sport Performance Director at Velocity Sports Performance. It was like a full-time job, and I had a salary. So I got myself a little “you made it” present, which I know it’s supposed to be like a Rolex watch or a Lamborghini or something. But if you’re a strength coach, it’d actually be a new pair of workout shoes.

So I splurged, and I got myself a pair of Nike Shocks that were all the rage at the time, and they were expensive. They were probably about $170, something like that. If you remember them, if you had a pair, they were super comfortable to wear around but they actually weren’t that great for training.

Because it had those like shock-absorber things in the heel if you were cutting laterally, it just gave. So if I was going one way and then I wanted to stop, it just let my foot roll, so really not great, but very, very comfortable to wear when I was coaching.

Then what happened was the athletes would all come in, and you’d see more and more of them wearing Shocks. They’d be like, “Yeah, we just got the same shoes that you have.” It was like, no. It’s hard to tell somebody who just spent like $170 on their shoes, that their shoes kind of suck for training.

I get asked the question all the time, and actually, I’m really glad when I get asked the question, “What are the best kind of shoes for training?” And the answer is, it depends. What exactly are you going to be doing? What is your training going to be?

Vibram Five Fingers

Here, again, is another example. I wear Vibram Five Fingers in the gym on most days because I am coaching. I am standing. I am walking. I’m demonstrating, doing a little bit of jumping, a little bit of change of direction, but again, just a few reps of everything. I like them because I think my feet do have to do some exercise and be strong in their own right, but I’m also not doing a lot of jumping and accelerating and decelerating and not a lot of wear and tear. I think these are great to wear for that.

I also wear them when I work out in the gym, if I’m not really doing a lot of plyometrics. I will run in them when I travel, just because I’m sort of a carry-on type person, so they can fold right flat. Really, when I go away, I don’t typically run more than five miles anyway. So for a short period of time, it’s okay.

Plus I’ve had them for a long time, and I know how to run in them. It’s a slightly different gait, but some people make the mistake of, “Oh those must be really, really good for your feet. I’m going to start wearing them all the time.” That is a no-no because your feet aren’t used to it. These really are just some rubber so that you don’t step on glass and stub your toe and things like that.

If you just start doing all your workouts barefoot or in a shoe like this, and running and jumping and doing your agility training, you’re probably going to end up with some problems in your feet, your ankles, or your knees. If you do want to wear them, I think they’re fine to wear for some strength training. I think they’re not bad to wear for some plyometric training, as long as you’re taking your time to build up to that stage.

I remember seeing Mark Verstegen, who is probably one of my top three strength and conditioning heroes. He said, “You need to earn these.” And he was talking about the athletes at what is now EXOS, but what used to be Athletes Performance. He’s like, once they got to a certain stage, they could wear these for their warm-up, and then maybe for their lift, but it was like top-top level before they get to wear these for agility training. He works with the elite of the elite in the world, and this was a, hey you gotta earn it, and you’ve gotta make it through.

I really like them. I think they’re great for wearing around and for doing just pure lift is fine as long as you don’t drop plate on your toe like I’ve done before. There you go. You might not all be as clumsy as me.

Nike Running Shoe with some cushion

Then here’s what we see a lot in the gym. Just a running shoe. They have a little thicker heel that’s meant to cushion, for when we run and we heel-strike (which we shouldn’t really heel-strike, but we do). It’s a long story but the guy who started Nike was a track coach, and the speed that you run is a product of your stride length plus your turnover rate. He kind of did the math, and he was like well if just increase their stride length, and keep the same cadence, then they’re going to go faster.

So the athletes start doing that, but then they would say, “My feet hurt. My knees hurt.” So he was like, “Aha, if I just put extra rubber on the heel, so when they land on their heel it cushions it, then their stuff won’t hurt, and they’re going to take longer strides.” But again, biomechanically, that’s a breaking impulse. I don’t mean to talk about gait, but anyway, I digress again.

So it has some extra lift. Some of them aren’t too, too bad. It’s not too high of a lift, but still. If we’re doing straight line stuff, not too bad. But if we kind of do some change of direction stuff, can you see how there’s some height built up in the heel?

So when we cut it sets us up where we could kind of roll our ankle. Plus we’re losing some power. Any of our power that goes into compressing the sole of the shoe, that’s power that we’re losing when we’re doing like a plyometric or and acceleration-type exercise.

Again, not ideal, but if you’re going to have kind of one. If you’re only going to have one pair of shoes, this is probably a good compromise. You want something not too super, super cushy for running. So, you know, not bad.

New Balance Running shoe with minimum cushion

These shoes I love. The New Balance Minimus are awesome. I got a new pair last summer, and they changed the design a little bit. They made the upper a little different, to me it’s less breathable. It might not be an issue for you guys, but that’s why I stopped wearing them.

This New Balance, kind of a zero drop, not much structure, but enough cushioning and a little bit of structure to help support your foot. I loves these for your agility, for your speed, not for distance running, but your lifting, all that stuff, really good.

Reebok Running show with minimum cushion

This is what I’m wearing right now when I’m not in my Five Fingers. I really like these shoes. They breathe nicely. I don’t know that they’re zero-drop, but very, very little heel on them.

A little bit of heel, if you’re doing things like cleans, if you see real Olympic lifting shoes, they actually have more of a heel than this, and they’re stiff. That actually helps your technique in squats and things like that a little bit.

Yeah, so it’s a real nice compromise, not a whole lot of structure there, but enough so that if I’m doing some agility training it has a nice pretty strong heel counter. If we’re doing some agility training, it keeps my foot nice and stable. It doesn’t sort of smoosh down and let me roll my ankle. I really like that one.

Saucony Pure Running shoe

This is a pure running shoe. It is a Saucony. But do you see how thick the heel is? And it’s pretty soft too. That’s almost like doing agility training in a little bit of a platform shoe like there is probably has at least a 2 cm or more rise. Again, really great for straight-line running. That’s 100% what they designed it for. They didn’t design it, nor did they market it as, “Hey, this is an agility training shoe.”

Under Armour cleats

When we do our agility training, a lot of times we go over to the park, or we do our hill runs, so we’re on grass. If people show up and they don’t have their cleats with them, they’re going to be slipping all over the place. It’s bad for two reasons. One, you might accidentally learn how to do the splits in one easy step. (Which even though I know you’re goalies, trust me, you don’t want to do that.) The other reason is so that if we’re changing direction, our athletes are slowing down when they get to where they’re supposed to change direction, so their feet don’t slide. So they’re losing that deceleration/acceleration impulse, which is what gives athletes their edge and their advantage.

We want them to be able to hammer right into that cone and stop on a dime and give you five cents change or whatever the saying is. So they all bring their cleats. This is a football cleat. It’s a mid-rise cleat. I like the mid-rise. I don’t think it supports my ankle per se, but I feel like it gives me some good proprioception of where my foot is. I think it also keeps stuff from getting down in my shoe as easily.

These are Under Armor. I’ve had them forever because they’re a little bit softer, and they do have a little bit of a contour in the foot bed, unlike some soccer boots. Some people bring their real, legit, soccer boots, and those are just flat and quite uncomfortable. We just need something that’s going to give you good grip and be pretty comfortable.

Sp those are the types of shoes we use for training. What’s the best? I don’t think there is one best. I think a pretty good cross trainer that doesn’t have too much of a heel lift is a great way to go. Ultimately, you need to try on what brand fits your foot because every foot is kind of shaped differently, and different shoe manufacturers create their shoe based on a different model foot shape.

There’s your run-down on what kind of shoes to wear. For your workout shoes, they gotta fit comfortably. They should fit comfortably right out of the box. If you have to break them in, break them in, break them in, probably not the right shoe for you.

See you guys. Bye-bye.