I’ve done this before and I don’t mind ruffling people’s feathers a little bit, but I’m here to tell you that performing agility ladder drills for hockey training probably aren’t going to improve speed for anyone.
The thing about this tool is, for the most part, it’s another one of those things that you see on tv and think, that’s cool. Ya, it does look cool. I remember the first time I witnessed Team Canada’s Junior Team doing a Nike Commercial with Ryan Ellis and he was using the speed ladder.
I immediately bought in and figured that’s how these guys were so fast. They trained with all these cool Nike tools and that led to better performance. But here’s the thing. These guys at the elite level are more than likely just thrown into these commercials to endorse a product to create sales for a company. I’m not saying that there’s not a place for these drills but they’re definitely not what needs to be focused on initially if you want to improve speed.
The key to improve speed is to GET STRONGER.
Speed comes down to how much force you can apply into the ground (or ice). The more force you can apply, the faster you’ll be. That’s about as plain and simple as it gets. I’ve said this before in a few previous posts, referring to strength as a cookie jar. The cookies within the jar are your speed, agility and power. If you increase your strength, you’re basically building yourself a larger cookie jar. What can you do with a larger cookie jar? Fit more cookies inside it. Meaning you’ll have WAY MORE potential to get faster.
I know it’s tough though. There’s so much hype behind some of these tools that it’s hard to resist temptation. It’s like seeing a Honda Civic all pimped out, with a couple decals on the side but nothing done to improve the horse power of the engine. It may look cool, but nothing really happened to change its performance.
Are Agility Ladders Drills For Hockey Useless?
Will agility ladders make you faster? directly, no. Indirectly they might help. Agility ladders are good for warming up before a skate or a drylands session. More importantly they can help improve your coordination, proprioception, body awareness, and athleticism. These all can translate into on improved on ice performance. However, stated above getting stronger, more powerful, and explosive is what will get you the most improvements skating speed.
If you really want to get fast, get stronger first. Spend two days per week on your lower body concentrating on the basic lifts like deadlifts, squats, and lunges. I know you want big biceps and may not be ready to give up your three chest and bicep days, but if you really want to get faster, the lower body workouts seem a little more logical.
Now if you’re a novice or advanced lifter, then you’ll be able to add some speed drills into your workout program along with your strength training. If you have the time during the season, add a linear day and a lateral day with regards to your speed training. Below are a couple great options to agility ladder drills for hockey.
Falling Start Sprints
A great linear exercise for speed is falling starts. Set up two cones 10m apart. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and start falling forward. Once you’ve almost reached the point of falling on your face, explode into a sprint for the total distance. Repeat this 5-10 times.
Lateral Hop and Stick
A great lateral exercise for speed is the lateral hop and stick drill. Start on one leg and hop laterally like you’re pushing off on your skate. Land with the opposite leg and stick the landing. Hold this position for at least 3 seconds and then hop back the other way. Repeat for 3 sets of 6 hops on each leg.