By Mark Fitzgerald, Strength & Conditioning Coach - Anaheim Ducks, Director of Performance - Elite Training Systems, Lead Training Advisor - Under Armour Canada
Better Strides - Better Shot
The hockey season is now busy and buzzing! Myself and my coaching staff here in Anaheim, California and in Whitby, Ontario, all hope you are having a great year so far. We trust you have been dedicated to learning and mastering the movement of the Skater Squat to further develop athleticism through training and finding it beneficial to a stronger and faster skating stride.
In this series of articles, I am focusing on strength movements that can be done virtually anywhere, with minimal to no equipment to help you progress to become a better athlete and hockey player! The next movement we will visit is a Lateral Dynamic Drill that will teach proper and effective weight transfer, as well as distribution in the lower body. This can be expressed in a number of different ways on the ice but one of them is to develop a quicker and harder shot.
This Lateral Dynamic Drill is a movement that reinforces and revisits athletic positioning. Moving side to side or laterally relates specifically to the skating stride and gives the athlete a better understanding of how strength and power are developed and generated from the lower body putting more weight, along with explosiveness through the shooting plane.
Lateral Dynamic Drill
- First you need an area where you will have a few yards on both your left and right side. Start by getting into a good low Athletic Stance or a Shuffle Position, meaning feet are shoulder width apart with weight evenly distributed. Your knees are bent, knee staying behind the toes, pushing the hips back, quarter squat position with a lower centre of gravity. The upper body, the trunk or abs are activated or tight, chest up and pack your shoulders down and back. Make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders up into your ears.
- With your weight even in your feet, start by moving laterally or to the side. Take approximately 2-3 steps, in a shuffle movement out to the right or left side. Be sure NOT to cross your feet, maintaining a low athletic stance and with your chest up.
- When you reach the end point of the 2-3 shuffle steps, it is now time for the weight transfer. Plant 90-95% of your weight on the inside leg, depending on which direction you started with and plant the opposite foot with 5-10%. With the planted inside leg and weight evenly distributed through the foot, push off, using force with the inside leg into the opposite direction, with a light push off the outside foot.
- Now moving in the opposite direction shuffle another 2-3 steps laterally and repeat the same changing of direction technique or transitioning of weight, planting the inside leg, with light weight on the outside foot. Stay low, use force and maintain control. By this point you should have a feel for the floor, accelerating and decelerating moving back and forth side to side.
This Lateral Dynamic Drill is appropriate for all ages and skill levels and it involves a number of different variables. From a training stand point be sure to maintain the low athletic position throughout the entire movement, track the hips back, keep knee and ankle aligned on the inside leg. In your Upper Body, keep the chest up with the spine remaining neutral, abs or trunk activated or tight and keep your head up! With that being said, from a hockey stand point, this ends up reinforcing the skating position and stride, to accelerate and decelerate to improve skating speed and quickness. The key to this side to side movement is the inside leg, it is teaching the athlete proper weight distribution and to transition efficiently. When an athlete knows how to control their body, efficiently move and transfer weight quickly with force, it will then transcend into a quicker and harder shot. I recommend you to perform 6-8 Reps per Way or Direction, for 2-3 Sets.
Remember that you cannot always get better at hockey, by always playing hockey. You need to develop skills away from your sport in order to become stronger at your sport. All the best to Coaches, Players, and Teams competing this season.
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