The bag skate can take many effective and creative forms, but basically the players skate to the point of exhaustion, vomiting or submission whichever comes first. Some may argue that exercise should not be used as a punishment for athletes and I am not looking to debate coaching philosophy in this article. Personally I think we can build a better bag skate and turn them into something a little more productive while still getting the full attention of your hockey players.
Picture your players after 20-minutes of bag skating. Do they look like the type of player you would like to have on the ice during a game? Probably not – they are bent forward at the hips, their knees are barely bent at all, their strides are short and weak – it is just a mess! Now imagine your athletes 20-minutes into a bag skate who are still low in the legs and taking powerful strides. The key is giving them rest! Do not think I am crazy, I know the point is to exhaust and torture your players. Stay with me a little bit longer.
Which is tougher skating slowly, no knee bend, light strides or low powerful skating? Once an athlete reaches a certain point (lactate threshold), they physiologically can not continue working above that level for longer than about 60-seconds. Even if the athlete wants to go fast, their body can not keep up with the demand for energy output. So here is what you can do torture the legs for 30-45 seconds and then torture the arms and core for 60-90 seconds – repeat until you get desired effect. Here are a few sample workouts:
Better bag skate # 1
o Blue line to blue line for 45s
o Push ups for 45s
o Core plank from push up position 45s (gets the athletes to activate their core muscles while they are breathing hard – great game specific core activation plus you are working the shoulder stabilizers which will help prevent injuries down the road)
Better bag skate # 2
o Partner side boards for 90 seconds (one partner sprints side board to side board while the other partner rests and then next partner goes)
o Partner core stabilization for 45-60 seconds – partners face one another both holding the same hockey stick at approximately chest level. One player will try to hold the hockey stick using the core muscles to stabilize while the other player tries to twist or rotate the stick to challenge their partner. Switch roles as stabilizer after approximately 20-30 seconds.
You hockey coaches can still exhaust you players while keeping them moving at game speed which will improve their performance on the ice. Add in some upper body and core training to build better athletes by building a better bag skate.