The speed at which hockey players skate across the ice has risen sharply in recent years. Depending on their role in the game, the average professional hockey player is going to be able to hit speeds somewhere between 12mph and 20mph. Some of the fastest players in the game are able to reach speeds in excess of 25-miles-per-hour! Of course, amateur players are going to be a little bit lower than this, but surprisingly, not by that much. Let’s discuss this in a bit more depth.
How fast do hockey players skate?
The NHL does not release data on how fast their skaters are able to travel while playing hockey. However, they do release information on the fastest laps of the rink. However, this doesn’t really tell you much about how a player performs in a game. A lot of this information comes from unofficial analysts, albeit ones using rather sophisticated equipment and calculations to determine just how fast players are traveling during play.
Most professional hockey players will rest somewhere in the 12mph to 20mph range. Although, do bear in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the players traveling as 12mph are much slower than everybody else. It likely means that their position doesn’t really demand that they travel at a faster speed.
It is much more difficult to determine how fast an amateur hockey player will travel on the ice. You do not really have anybody analyzing data here. However, it is likely that the maximum speed for an amateur player caps out at around 10mph, with most other players traveling a bit slower than this. You may find the odd player that is able to hit NHL speeds, but since amateur players do not have the training or diet that professional athletes have, this is pretty unlikely.
What is the record for speed in the NHL?
The only time the NHL reveals ‘official speed statistics’ is when they time certain players completing a circuit of the ice. This happens yearly at the NHL All-Stars Skill Competition. Connor McDavid is often the fastest one at these events. He is able to complete a single lap in 13.382-seconds.
Of course, this means nothing unless he is controlling a puck. While the NHL does not release analysis themselves, it is believed that Connor McDavid is able to skate at a whopping 25.5 miles-per-hour, and there has been a noticeable increase in his speed each year. This means that he is, by far, one of the fastest players in the game. At such a young age, he is only going to be getting faster too.
Were hockey players slower in the past?
Yes. If you watch hockey games from a decade or so ago, you will likely notice that the pace of play was a bit slower. Of course, the game is still likely to be faster than your average amateur hockey game, but the speeds wouldn’t be anywhere close to what we see now. In fact, a little over a decade ago, it is believed that the fastest speed on the professional ice rink was 20-miles-per-hour, with most players falling far below this.
So, what has led to this massive increase in average speed? Well, sport science. New training techniques have been devised. New diets have been concocted. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of researchers trying to determine the best way to increase the speed of sports stars.
It is unlikely that players have hit their speed cap either. As we said before; Connor McDavid is improving his average speed year-on-year, and he doesn’t really show any sign of slowing down. Nobody quite knows the maximum speed cap of a hockey player, but one would suspect that we still have a long way to go!
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What can impact speed when playing hockey?
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There are several factors that can influence how fast a hockey player moves on the ice.
Of course, the major factor will be the direction they are skating in. Connor McDavid is only able to hit his top speed when he is traveling straight. If he was chopping and changing direction constantly, then he would be traveling at a far slower pace. This is, of course, one of the reasons as to why it is so difficult to work out how fast most NHL players can actually travel.
Most of them are not heading in straight lines constantly. That is something limited to only a few specific players. So, if you are an amateur player that can’t skate fast, it doesn’t mean that you are a slow player, particularly if your playing style and position don’t really require you to travel in the same direction for long periods of time.
For all players, the quality of the ice is going to have a major impact on how fast they can travel. Ideally, you will want to be playing on hard, cold ice. This means that many people may actually reach their fastest speed outdoors since the ice tends to be a little bit colder.
The problem with ice that is a little bit ‘warmer’ is the fact that it has melted a small amount. This means that it provides more resistance to the skates. The skates cannot cut through it quite as easily. It is only going to be a small amount of resistance, but for many professional players, it can be enough to hamper their game.
Moreover, playing on fresh ice is also important. Ice that isn’t fresh will have all sorts of kinks in it. This will provide a little bit more resistance and thus slowing down players drastically. Remember; goalkeepers tend to ‘rough up’ the ice a little bit when the game starts. This helps to slow down the puck. Ice that is a little bit rough will slow down players in the same way.
Finally; the training of a person will have an impact on how fast they travel. Obviously, the more you work on your speed, the faster you will get. By all accounts, even though Connor McDavid is the fastest player in the NHL, he is going through constant speed training to squeeze even more out of his game. If you are not training for speed, you are never going to become as fast as you can be as a player.
How can you improve your speed on the ice?
While we cannot possibly tell you everything you need to know about increasing your speed here, we do have a few tips that we can share with you. If you are seriously interested in boosting your speed on the ice rink, then it is highly recommended that you talk to a coach. They can provide you with much more guidance. This means providing you with personalized recommendations based on what they see in your technique.
We do want to tell you that you probably shouldn’t be setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Unless you have been skating from a very young age to a professional standard, you are unlikely to get anywhere close to the speeds that the NHL players boast. The best players have been working with professional coaches before they hit their teen years. All you really should be doing is focusing on improving your speed as much as YOU can. Do not pay attention to anybody else.
Perhaps the best way to see a speed boost is to lose weight. Obviously, ensuring that you remain at a healthy weight. If you are on the heavier side of things, you will be slowed down drastically. Remember; when you are playing hockey, you will be carrying a lot of equipment with you. Most coaches will recommend that you ‘get lean’ to ‘get speed’
Flexibility will also go a long way too. A key part of speed is having a large stride length. Flexibility plays a role here. You want to be traveling as far as you can on a single stride. Smaller strides mean that you will not only be traveling slower, but you will be expending a lot more energy doing so.
Boosting core strength is also vital to increasing speed. The more strength you have, the more of an ability you have to propel yourself forward at blistering speeds. In fact, somebody that has barely trained on the ice but has decent core strength is likely to travel faster than a weak hockey player. That is how important this component is!
The most important thing of all; you need to practice. You cannot get faster without practice. Do it daily, You should be doing speed reps. Travel forward as far as you can to a designated point and turn around. Time yourself. We promise you that if you put in the effort and practice, you will see a huge increase in your speed on the ice. It will often be quite rapid increases at the start too, particularly if you have not put that much effort into speed training in the past.