In the second instalment of this series, we take a look at some of our athletes’ favourite exercises they use to develop rapid acceleration and effective stopping and landing. There are video demonstrations and when needed we’ve included slow motions clips to assist better understanding of the actual technique used.

Speed is very important in hockey and often means the difference between making or missing a tackle, winning or losing a loose ball or even the difference between zipping past or being stopped by a defender.

At Become An Athlete, when we design programmes to increase a player’s speed we separate speed into four segments; acceleration, deceleration, turning/adjusting position and re-acceleration.

Further to this, within these four segments there are endless combinations and possibilities. We ask ourselves, what are the athlete’s start positions? what skill will the athlete perform after stopping or even on the go? what position do they need to be in during and after re-acceleration?

It is our job to understand the requirements of athletes and the characteristics their sport demands, furthermore our job is to deliver and coach exactly what the athlete needs in the most simplest form to be easily digested and turned into action and learning ultimately leading to physical and cognitive adaption!


The following 7 exercises are used by many of our junior athletes equally as preparation before a match and training or as part of a separate training session all together.

You will need:

  • 1 hockey stick
  • 1 hockey ball


Players need strength and structure whilst stopping and getting into positions to execute skill. This is an excellent drill to develop control on one leg.

Using a hockey stick as a marker helps athletes maintain the same distance of reach throughout the drill. Players should concentrate to keep their standing foot flat and rooted to the ground.

Give it a go – Try complete 30 seconds on each leg and repeat twice on each leg.

180º JUMP + LAND

Again, a fun drill giving athletes something to think about when landing. When landing, athletes should land with a wide stance and ensue their knees are wide with their bodyweight towards the front of their shoe.

Give it a go – Try 8 jumps as one set rest 60 seconds and reps unto 3 times.


Great acceleration is vital in sport, especially in hockey because of the short sprint, sharp turning, fast passed nature of the game. Although players are not holding a hockey stick during this exercise, we have found that by sharpening acceleration mechanics in free running, players will be able to put this in place on a hockey pitch.

In this particular sprint Jolyon starts in 3-point stance, thats two feet and one hand making contact on the floor. He slightly shifted his weight forward in this position ready to explode forward.

Key points for acceleration (take-off)

  1. Lean forward
  2. Drive knee forward and up
  3. Aggressive arm swing
  4. Front of foot makes contact on the ground

Key points for deceleration (breaking/stopping)

  1. Bodyweight shifting to a neutral position and lowering the body
  2. Shorter strides
  3. Mid to rear of foot makes ground contact

Above all, your intention has to be to move from start to finish as fast as possible.

Give it a go – Set up two cones around 10-15m apart and sprint from one to the other rest for 15 seconds and repeat 6 times.


Strength is the underlying physical quality of all other characteristics athletes need to perform sport. An overhead squat like this one demonstrated by Jolyon is performed at a slow and controlled pace. This exercise should be formed taking 3 seconds to lower the body with a 1 second pause at the bottom to ensure you have achieved the correct position and then 1 second standing up.

Key points to think about:

  1. Feet remain flat on the ground
  2. Knees wide
  3. Neutral spine
  4. Bar above the back of head

Give it a go – Grab a stick and try perform a set of 8 reps, rest 60 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.


Here we introduce a forward jump. In this video Jolyon demonstrates a forward jump and lands on both legs followed by a jump and landing one 1 leg. He aims to stick the landing quietly and solid with his knee/s facing forward.

Give it a go – (2 foot & 1 foot landing) X 4, rest 60 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.


Similar to the ‘Hop Hop Stick’ drill above, however this time we add a lateral hop. Landing after moving laterally is usually more difficult and can be practiced if the Hop Hop Stick drill can be performed with balance.

Give it a go – Try 5 jumps each way, rest 60 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.

5-10-5 (SHORT)

This drill combines acceleration, deceleration, turning and re-accelertion. Note Jolyon’s drop step and lean to the direction he runs to. You should have the intent to move from cone to cone in as shorter time as possible.

Give it a go – Set 3 cones out evenly spread. Perform 1 full sprint, rest 10 seconds and repeat up to 6 times.

Taken from the original article: