Welcome to Part 5 of our Off-Season Training guide: Incorporating plyometrics training to develop power and speed.

Plyometric training for the sport of ice hockey can have a great impact on the athlete’s on- ice performance. Why train for explosive power and speed?

  • Explosive power allows you to start, stop and react quickly to elude a defender or to stay with your check
  • Fast accelerations allow you to capture or move to space on offense
  • Fast accelerations and speed allow you to establish position and reduce space for better defense
  • Fast accelerations and high speed give you a better transition game
  • Higher speed gives you more momentum and an advantage in collisions
  • Higher speeds can be transferred into greater shot velocity

Plyometrics bridge the gap between strength and speed. If you want to improve your athletic performance, the transition from strength training to power training will play an integral part in your success. Here’s why…Maximum strength takes 0.5 to 0.7 seconds to produce. Yet most explosive, athletic movements occur much more rapidly. Whether your objective is to accelerate faster, shoot the puck harder, move around the ice more quickly, jump higher or throw further… The key to improving your power and performance lies in generating the highest possible force in the shortest possible time… Plyometrics play a primary role in this training objective. Ideally you would first develop a high level of maximal strength before starting a plyometrics program. This gives you the greatest potential for peak power. The underlying principle of plyometric training is the stretch-shortening cycle. Very simply, as a muscle stretches and contracts eccentrically (lengthens) it produces storable elastic energy. If the muscle then contracts concentrically (shortens) this elastic energy can be used to increase the force of the contraction.

A good example is jumping…If an athlete jumps vertically they will invariably dip down just before takeoff. Quickly lowering their centre of gravity stretches the working muscle groups allowing them to contract more forcefully for the jump. In essence a muscle stretched before it contracts will contract much more forcefully. What role does plyometrics play in all of this? Plyometric training places increased stretch loads on the working muscles. As the muscles become more tolerant to the increase loads the stretch-shortening cycle becomes  more efficient. The muscle stores more elastic energy. It can transfer from the eccentric or stretching phase to the concentric or lengthening phase more rapidly. This is the key to generating peak power. Lower body based plyometrics should be the dominant part of your training program as more of the power needed in the sport of hockey comes from the lower body. The hips, gluteals, quadriceps and hamstring areas must be strong and flexible to maximize performance and implement a hockey plyometric program. It is these muscle groups that are key to developing a strong powerful skating stride. In summary, plyometrics are exercises that enable muscles to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. In other words, these exercises develop power.