Former Hockey Pro Explains The Best Workouts To Increase Speed And Agility

Hokey skate , puck , and stick
Hokey skate , puck , and stick

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Answers by Bill Keenan, author of Odd Man Rush, former pro hockey player, on Quora.

A: You're not as great as you think you are. It's incredible how quickly your fortunes can turn. There's almost an eerie feeling I used to have after a good game, knowing that something was coming soon to knock me down a peg or two. The key takeaway I got was the importance of maintaining a level head and being even keeled. What makes this really hard is that emotions are a big part of playing well. Coaches always preach the importance of playing "desperate." Well to be desperate, you have to play with intense emotion which doesn't help much with the whole even keel routine.

Another great part of playing pro hockey in Europe was playing with teammates who came from places I barely even knew existed. There's something really cool about making a great play with a teammate who doesn't even speak English. It was almost like this unspoken secret you two could have with each other. While verbal communication might be damn near impossible, the communication you two could have on the ice is something to be valued.

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A: That's exactly the type of question I would ask players when I was playing youth and junior hockey. I spent hours with trainers and online researching drills and I wish I could give you the answer. Unfortunately, experience has taught me that speed and agility are pretty much determined by your genes. That doesn't mean you can't improve it - staying lean and powerful are key. A good combination of squats and core work will provide the strength and supplementing that with power movements like plyometrics will ensure you reach your maximum potential. But looking back on it, the same guys I remember being the fastest and quickest when I was seven years old are the same guys I watch today in the NHL who are still fast. I remember playing summer hockey with Chris Kreider the year before he entered Andover Prep. He might have been the fastest guy on the ice then even as a 14 year old playing against pro and college guys. So my suggestion would be to keep improving all facets of your game but focus extra on where you think you have an edge. Brendan Shanahan was never a fast skater but that didn't stop him from being an elite NHL goal scorer. The point is, really bear down on one part of your game - skating, shooting, stickhandling, defense. By doing this, you'll separate yourself from your peers and scouts will notice those strengths that differentiate you from the pack.

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A: The way I see it, the enforcer is directly a product of having star players. Therefore, as long as there are high-flying goal scorers, there will always be enforcers there to protect them. That said, the way in which these enforcers deal with cheap shots against their star teammates may eventually change. Fighting is so much ingrained in the culture of hockey, it's hard for me to imagine a day when there is no longer fighting. We need to remember that the alternative to dropping the gloves to exact revenge might be something like stick swinging which is far more dangerous and something that does happen from time to time. While some junior/college leagues ban fighting, it is up to the NHL to take a stance. One solution might be harsher penalties for fighting. Simply banning it won't accomplish anything. Instead of having the enforcers sit in the penalty box for five minutes, it might be worth considering penalizing the team's in another way so both teams feel harsher consequences for fighting. As it stands, the only ones who are getting punished for fighting are the guys getting hit in the head repeatedly.

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