What Is Agility?
Agility is basically an athlete’s ability to effectively absorb and redirect impact, which includes explosive starting speed and changing direction at high velocity. The ability of a hockey player to go quickly from an eccentric (load) to concentric (explode) muscle contraction is a key determinant of his agility. Good news is that agility is a bio-motor ability that can be improved. Like all the other constituents of conditioning, its development can be planned and integrated in the training program of an athlete.
Why Is Agility Training Important For Hockey Players?
The game of hockey moves incredibly fast, which is why the development of agility is a highly preferred trait on the ice. A hockey player’s ability to move swiftly gives him a distinct advantage over his rivals. It allows the players to decelerate, accelerate and change direction, keeping perfect control over their body and without losing a lot of time in transition. Mobility and structural balance are the two key influencers that decide an athlete’s agility. If an athlete is immobile or tight in certain areas of his body that are restricting the optimal movement patterns, then no matter how strong or powerful, the athlete will be unable to execute the techniques that would allow for a great energy economy. Therefore, hockey agility drills will help the hockey players improve the specific individual fitness components of balance, speed, power and coordination.
Hockey agility step over drill uses quick and precise movements in order to enable the hockey players improve their ability to rapidly change their body’s momentum from one direction to another. To perform this drill, the athletes will need a set of Kbands leg resistance bands and three hurdles. To begin the hockey agility drill, the athletes will place the two hurdles, at least1-2 yards apart, and securely attach the Kbands Leg Resistance Bands just above their knees.
The key muscles that hockey players need focus on are hip flexors - a strong and mobile hip allows them to achieve effective power angles and explode through the ground when cutting. By working on this drill, the athletes are going to push through the resistance and build strength in their hip flexors, thus, enhancing their mobility for multi-directional movements on the ice.
To set this drill up, we are going to use several cones or hurdles kept parallel to each other to help provide space. Start on one side and using the Kbands resistance band and move laterally - the athletes are going to be stepping over one whole hurdle gap, challenging their hips, accelerating over that hurdle. Next, the athletes will take that strider step over the last hurdle and accelerate with high knee back to the starting position. The athletes need to remember that we are going to be working on our reaction time, always building quickness. It is important not to reach too far from the original cross over. By leaning your hips back and reaching with your leg, you are not going to be in a proper position to accelerate backwards. Always focus to maintain a great center. Accelerate that leg over and gain ground towards your landing position. Take those strider steps and then drive those knees up quickly back to the beginning. Complete 10 sets to the left and then to the right before finishing up this drill.
Explosive Hip Power Helps In Improving Agility, Speed And Strength
Developing strong hips is very important for improved mobility and agility in the hockey players. Remember that power comes from our legs and glides through our glutes and the hip flexor help drive our knee forward. The hip flexors are primarily responsible for the forward swing and knee drive of the legs. The harder the initial contraction of the forward swing, the faster our legs will be repositioned for the next stride. The faster this can occur, the faster will be the movement of the hockey player. Simply put, your ability to move fluidly and effortlessly in all directions is determined by how loose your hips are. A key driver for most sports skills, the hips can make or break your performance Strong and powerful inner thighs, thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings, and hip flexors allow for acceleration, deceleration and change of direction.
In order to be able to develop efficient and powerful strides, you must be able to set your hips back and bend at the knees, which is also called hip hinge in strength and conditioning parlance. Your hip mobility is critical in being able to apply forces throughout the full range of your optimal stride without compromising mechanical efficiency. Adequate hip mobility and strength will allow smooth movements while stopping, changing direction, and accelerating.
When performing hockey agility drill, the hockey players need to remember that the strength of the muscles surrounding the hip joint contributes to the stability of the joint. The stability of a hip joint provides the foundation for large muscle groups to perform high speed forceful actions. Excessive movement of the torso and upper body will cause the athlete to lose balance as they step outside of the hurdles, causing a longer turnaround as the athlete tries to move back through the hurdles. Athletes also need to place extra emphasis on driving their knees up and through the resistance provided by the Kbands Leg Resistance Bands. This will result in quicker, more powerful movements when performing unresisted sets and when performing the movement during a competitive situation.
By incorporating other hip flexor exercises such as Hockey Skating Resisted Power Lunges into your strength training program, your hips will loosen, and result in improved flexibility, quickness, speed, and explosiveness. Remember, technique is just one part of the sport, a hockey player’s performance on the rink will depend on several other factors, such as balance, speed, strength and coordination, which all come from agility. Get started with your hockey agility drill and check out our store section for any of your fitness or training needs.