Guest post from Kevin Neeld

Hi Gang,

484613_canuck_hockeyHope you are all having a great day.  Paul & I are in the final stages of our marathon training – race day is November 22nd  in Philadelphia.  I will let you in on a secret, my goal range is 3:45-3:55.  Anywhere in that range will be a personal best, but if I am closer to the 3:55 I will be a little bummed, if I am closer to the 3:45 I will be oh so happy!  Anyway, the training is keeping us busy plus I was out in Denver on the weekend setting up an off-season training program for Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis.  With all that going on, I am falling a little behind on my blog posting, so I am thrilled to have this guest post from Kevin Neeld who is a colleague who works with hockey players as well.  I think it is great to share different ideas and perspectives.  He has written an awesome article on transitional speed – some great stuff in here, so check it out.

Transitional Speed Training for Ice Hockey

Few people argue that having unparalleled speed is one of the keys to becoming a dominant hockey player.  While speed is one of the most important athletic qualities a hockey player can possess, it’s also one of the most elusive. Most hockey players, if they have an organized speed training program at all, follow concepts that were derived from track coaches.

A couple things you should consider when developing your speed training program:

1) You rarely reach TOP speed on the ice. You usually have maximal effort, but submaximal bursts of speed throughout a shift.

2) If you reach top speed, you usually aren’t starting from a standstill.

3) Hockey requires that you’re fast in all directions and transition patterns.

There are some very simple take home messages from this:

1) More time should be spent training acceleration than top speed.

2) Speed training should include sprints from a “flying” start, meaning you start moving at a submaximal pace for 10-30 yards before breaking into an all-out sprint.

3) Transitional speed training should be the foundation of your speed training program. This means you should include transitions from forward, backward, and lateral (shuffle and crossover) movements into forward, sideways, diagonal and backward movement directions in sprinting, backpedaling and lateral movement patterns.   

I realize that description of transitional speed training can be a bit confusing, so let me give you a few examples.

Two of my favorite transitional speed training circuits are the 3-Way Shuffle-to-Sprint, and the 4-Way 5-Yard Movement Circuit. 

The 3-Way Shuffle-to-Sprint involves:

1) Shuffling 5-yards laterally, then cutting off your outside leg and sprinting forward (a 90° turn) 10 yards.

2) Shuffling 5-yards laterally, then opening up and sprinting 10 yards in the same direction.

3) Shuffling 5-yards laterally, then pivoting to the outside and sprinting 10 yards in the backward direction (the direction opposite of where you were facing for the shuffle…see video).

 The 4-Way 5-Yard Movement Circuit involves:

 1) Shuffling up 5-yards; shuffling back 5-yards, sprinting forward 5-yards

 2) Shuffling up 5-yards, shuffling back 5-yards, back pedaling 5-yards

 3) Shuffling up 5-yards, back pedaling 5-yards, sprinting forward 5-yards

4) Shuffling up 5-yards, sprinting forward 5-yards, back pedaling 5-yards

 *All stops and starts are in the lateral direction (see video)

The possibilities are really endless with both of these speed training circuits. You could incorporate slight changes to the direction changes (add in 45° and/or 135° turns) and movement patterns (e.g. change the shuffle to crossover steps).  The key is to focus on making your transitions explosive. I’ve pretty much trashed all traditional “quick feet” exercises with my hockey players in favor of more traditional speed training drills like the ones above and I’ve gotten great feedback about how quick they feel on the ice. The concept is simple: Train the movement patterns you’ll see on the ice at a maximal intensity off the ice.  Keep training hard. Keep training smart.

Kevin Neeld, BSc, MS, CSCS is the Director of Athletic Development at Endeavor Fitness in Sewell, NJ.  Through the application of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and neural control, Kevin specializes in guiding hockey players to optimal health and performance.  To help hockey players and coaches develop their own off-ice programs, Kevin developed and wrote Hockey Training University’s “Off-Ice Performance Training Course,”.  For a FREE copy of “Strong Hockey Core Training”, one of the sessions from his course, go to