Quickness is characterized as explosive acceleration from a stationary position (Twist, 1997). It is the key to beating an opponent to the play and is demonstrated over very short distances. The best athletes are not always the fastest. Quite often it is the quickest player that dominates. A “quick” athlete can accelerate to their top speed in a very short period of time, can change directions and re-explode to top speed, and has a fast reaction time. All these attributes will help the hockey player win foot races to the ball, will help when attacking with the ball, and will help defenders react to movements by ball handlers.
Quickness, speed, and agility training are all inter-related and are designated as “neuromuscular” training. These drills will help the athlete react quicker and will enable the athlete to control the muscle with better co-ordination. Agility is important, because it increases the ability to move in multiple directions. A trait needed by every athlete in every sport if they wish to compete.
Neuromuscular training is skill training. The emphasis is on quality, not the quantity of training. Drills must always be performed in a rested state and the training session should be stopped when fatigue prevents proper technique. Athletes should progress in this type of training by using quicker feet in each successive session.
Focus on horizontal and lateral movements and single-leg drills (see below). Also include pivots (turning front to back), auditory or visual cues within the drills, and try as much as possible to incorporate a sport skill (i.e. puck handling or shooting at the end of the drill).
Q-A-P (Quickness, Agility and Plyometrics)
Most Q-A-P drills develop acceleration, foot-speed, and the anaerobic energy systems. Q-A-P training should be the first training component in the workout, because proper technique is extremely important (fatigue from other training will interfere with correct technique). All drills must be performed at the maximal intensity for a short duration (5- to 15-seconds), and there must be a full recovery (~ 1- to 2-minutes) between repetitions. Plyometrics are drills to help explosion.Always warm-up and stretch prior to explosive training.
An agile athlete can change directions without decreasing speed. Drills need acceleration, deceleration, many movement patterns, directional changes, simple sport-skills, and adequate rest periods (Remember, these are not anaerobic conditioning drills!).
- sprint forward, touch the ground, shuffle to the right, touch, backpedal, touch, and shuffle left to the starting position (~10 second duration)
- length of sides can be 5-15yds, mark corners with cones
- start in middle of a marked box and number each corner
- sprint to each corner in a specific order OR use a different movement pattern to
get to each corner
- return to the center (starting position) after going to each corner
- tape down hexagon area with sides measuring 12 inches
- start in the middle and jump over the line to the outside on both feet, then jump
back over same line, jump out over next line, etc., for 3 revolutions
- sprint 10-yards, touch ground, shuffle 5-yards left, touch, shuffle 10-yards right,
touch, shuffle back to middle touch, run backward to start
- backpedal 5-yards diagonally to the left, stop, sprint forward diagonally to the left,
stop, reverse direction to backpedal left again, stop and reverse direction one final
time to sprint forward
SHUFFLE & GO
- take 3 large shuffle steps right (OR left) and turn into a 10-yard sprint
- arrange cones in a random pattern and sprint through the cones (10-seconds)
- make lots of directional changes and movement patterns necessary
Plyometrics & Power Training
Plyometrics improve speed, quickness, agility, and power BUT should not be used if recovering from an injury. It would be beneficial to have a certified coach demonstrate these exercises. Repetitions of plyometric drills must be performed in rapid succession (i.e. there should be little contact time with ground after landing from a hop OR jump). Each repetition should be a maximal effort. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
For further information, see Allerheiligen (1994).
- stride forward using alternate legs with an emphasis on the distance of each stride
- land on the ball of the foot and explode rapidly to minimize contact time
- include an arm-swing in the movement as well
- perform the alternate-leg bound up an incline to increase the resistance and
difficulty of this exercise
- greater emphasis on distance rather than height
- all hops can be performed single-leg OR double-leg (single-leg is more intense)
- hop straight forward with an emphasis on distance
- maintain a slight bend in the knee to absorb the force on landing
- explode off the ground as quickly as possible to minimize ground contact time
- hop forward at a 45-degree angle to the right, land, and reverse direction to hop
forward at a 45-degree angle to the left, repeat in the alternating fashion
- remember to land and jump explosively as soon as possible
- can be performed for either height OR lateral distance
- stand with feet shoulder-width apart beside a soft object OR line
- jump sideways off both feet, land, and jump in an explosive manner in the opposite
direction, repeat in this alternating fashion
- step forward as in a forward lunge, this is the starting position
- explode upwards off the front leg and switch leg positions in the air so that the back
leg is now at the front to support the landing
- upon landing, drop back into the lunge position and then explode upward again off
the front leg
- complete for the desired number of repetitions for each leg
- alternative – do not switch legs in the air, rather perform all jumps for one leg before
- bend the knees and explode upward (as in a vertical jump)
- bring the knees up to as close to the chest as possible at the top of the jump
- land and jump as soon as possible to minimize contact time with the ground
Q-A-P Workout Design
- 5-10 minutes of low-intensity activity using many different movement patterns
- shuffles, crossovers, jogging forwards and backwards, torso rotations
- running form drills (high knees, skips, heel-to-butt kicks, walking lunges)
- 3-5 minutes of activity-specific stretching for injury prevention
Q-A-P BEGINNER WORKOUT
- Choose 2 agility drills and perform each for 2 repetitions.
- 2 sets of 8 double-leg zigzag hops
- 2 sets of 8 lateral jumps (each side)
- Choose 3 agility drills and perform each for 3 repetitions.
- 3 sets of 8 squat jumps
- 3 sets of 10 single-leg zigzag hops (each leg)
- 3 sets of 10 incline bounds
ADVANCED WORKOUT – I
- Choose 4 agility drills and perform each for 3-4 repetitions.
- Incorporate a sport skill into the agility drills.
- 3 sets of 10 single-leg lateral jumps
- 3 sets of 10 single-leg zigzag hops (each leg)
- 3 sets of 10 tuck jumps (each side)
- 2 sets of 8 wide-stance squat jumps
ADVANCED WORKOUT – II
- Choose 5 agility drills and perform each for 3 repetitions.
- 3 sets of 8 single-leg zigzag hops
- 2 sets of backward sprinting (5-8 seconds duration)
- 3 sets of 10 tuck jumps
- 3 sets of 10 lateral jumps (each side)
- 3-5 minutes of light activity
- 5-10 minutes of stretching for flexibility improvement and relaxation