What Limits Turn-Over Rate On The Ice?
You learned in elementary school that velocity is distance divided by time. So the faster you cover a distance the greater your velocity.
On the ice, the distance you cover is dictated by your stride frequency and the propulsive force you put into the ice.
So you can increase your speed on the ice by either increasing your turn-over (while applying the same force over the same distance) or by increasing the amount of force you put into the ice over the same distance at the same frequency.
Or some combination of both.
I have given you hundreds of off-ice hockey exercises to help increase the force you apply to the ice so today I will focus on what is limiting your turn-over rate.
Fast Legs Slow Skaters
I am sure you have all seen it – a guy (or gal) who looks super fast on the ice – their legs and arms are going like crazy and they actually look fast. But then you notice that they are losing most of the races to the loose puck, they are the last guy getting back on defense – – they are actually slow.
They are not tired – they still look fast – they are just slow.
This athlete probably even feels fast and is frustrated day in and day out because they are still slow.
This is a hockey player who has increased his turn over rate, but decreased his stride length. That is a big no-no. So the first thing to keep in mind as you try to increase your stride frequency is that your force must still be applied over the same distance, you cannot shorten up your stride, use the same force AND get faster.
Unless your skating technique was seriously flawed to start with.
How To Move Your Legs Quicker
So now we understand the goal, how do we do it?
This is a super complex question and some of it is genetically pre-determined.
You can make yourself faster, but that does not mean you can be the fastest skater. Think of it in terms of sprinting. I can train and make myself faster, but I will never, ever, ever be able to beat Usain Bolt.
In addition to his body type – he has a different type of muscle fibre which is determined by the motor nerve which innervates it and makes it fire.
I am sure you are familiar with the idea of muscle fibre types, but lets go over them in a bit more details.
Type I Fibres – Slow Twitch
- More fatigue resistant
- Less peak force production
- Smaller cross sectional area
Type IIa – Fast Oxidative Glycolytic (the hockey players best friend)
- Fatigue resistant
- High peak force production
- Medium cross sectional area
Type IIb – Fast Twitch
- Low fatigue resistance
- High peak force production
- Large cross sectional area
For the most part you have a distribution of fibre types that is genetically set and that will cap your top speed. Again, not to say you cannot get faster, but you may never been the fastest skater.
Just like the fastest skater will never have the best stamina.
Your twitch type will help dictate your turn over rate as the faster twitch muscles will be capable of firing at a higher velocity.
How To Maximize Your Potential
Speed is a skill and it can be taught, so let’s say you really do have room to increase your turn over rate on the ice and thus improve your speed.
How do you do that?
There are a few ways…
Off The Ice
- Plyometric training helps teach your muscle to fire rapidly with lots of force. When you link your plyometric exercises you learn to re-load and fire again in rapid succession, so that is a good non-specific way to start. Just remember that plyometrics are one tool used as part of a properly designed off-ice training program. Trying to just add plyometrics will be mistake.
On The Ice
The two techniques I have used on the ice with good success are resisted skating and assisted skating.
The benefit of this exercise is letting the player feel the force they are putting into the ice, they can actually get the sensation of quickly putting force through the entire stride as quickly as possible. Just make sure you do not apply too much overload, it is just meant to be a little resistance. I use a piece of webbing or a 2” Superband.
For this one I use a long resistance bungee that is designed for this purpose (you have to be very careful to get the slack out of the way so the player does not trip).
This band effectively ‘sling shots’ the player over the first few strides and gets them moving quickly. Their goal then is to ‘keep up’ with their speed while still taking full strides.
Both of these techniques have a high demand on the nervous system, so they should be used sparingly – 1-2 times per week for a total volume of 4-6 repetitions each.
These are NOT conditioning drills.
Finally – Be Fast
Most of you are on the ice 4 times or less each week. So when you get the opportunity to skate, you better be working on skating quickly. Don’t coast around in practice, win races to the loose puck, go through your flow drills at game speed.
Stay low in your legs, drive through the full stride, use your edges, that is where you have the most to gain in your speed. Without those three ingredients, you can work on turn-over rate all you want, you still won’t get much faster.