In hockey one thing is certain—speed kills. Many different theories expound on improving speed, most centred on improving components of the stride. One method that’s proven effective is performing mini hurdle drills. Using these small hurdles can improve your stride length and lower body power so you’ll increase explosiveness, acceleration and top speed. They are a good alternative training method to traditional sprint training. Mini hurdles are also a valuable tool in improving agility. However for this article the focus is on speed improvement using mini hurdles.
When using mini hurdles there are important considerations:
In order to get the most from using the ladder, an athlete must be taught to integrate correct upper-body movements with the footwork patterns. In virtually all cases, this means the application of basic runner’s arm-leg mechanics. See below diagram.
Place approximately 6 to 10 hurdles about 30 cm apart. Jump over each hurdle, one leg at a time
Lift the knees as high as possible
Stay on your toes throughout
Be sure to use the same lead leg as you work your way through each mini hurdle. Both feet should land between each hurdle during the run. Finally, repeat the drill with the opposite leg as a lead.
Ensure body alignment is maintained (as above)
Progress to new drills when one is mastered
Learn a few drills, well; repeating them many times, each, before moving on to others. Build a repertoire of drills by reviewing those you have already learned (to cement them into your body’s movement memory); then add a few new ones. When learning the mechanical technique of a drill it is important to not focus on speed at first then once technique is mastered then increase the speed. Therefore it is important to watch the arm-action of players, carefully (they will be monitoring their footwork), and encourage teammates waiting in line to focus attention there, as well. Also fast feet should also be quiet feet; speed at the expense of one’s joints s a fool’s economy.
Placing the ladders
It is not an easy task in placing the ladders at the right spacing due to differences in stride lengths of players involved. Having more ladders is a bonus because you can create different lines and therefore then being able to group players of similar stride lengths. This is not so critical when doing activities where the stride length required is narrow. You can also change the height of ladders which can aid higher knee lifts and necessity for more power.
To assess the benefits of using mini hurdles for speed improvement it is suggested you do a speed test prior to introducing mini hurdles training. A timed sprint (shorter distances for explosive improvement goals) is suggested and then a retest after implement a speed training program using mini hurdles
Selecting Mini hurdle activities
There are good video resources showing the types of speed drills you can introduce. The following video was selected as it demonstrates not only a good choice of activities but excellent technique.
Where to buy mini hurdles