Over-speed training is a buzz term often associated having “quick feet” during a drill. Simply put, over-speed training involves the execution of a skill at a higher tempo than the player is comfortable with. Most players go on the ice and “practice” their skills at a pace they’re comfortable with – this “comfort zone” is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to developing as an athlete and player. By staying within the player’s comfort zone, there is a much slower progression of skills. Over-speed training is a critical component of proper training, but must be used appropriately. Properly phased over-speed training should look something like the following:
1) Learn the basics of the skill you’re performing: become proficient (technically) in the skill you’re working on. This is the part where you spend hours honing your craft. Don’t overlook this phase, because poor techniques at the beginning will lead to poor techniques long-term. Develop good habits, and practice the fundamentals.
2) Perform the skill at a pace outside your comfort zone: increase the tempo of your performance without a puck. Begin executing the drills at a pace where you’re outside your comfort zone. Falling in this phase is OK – players must understand falling is part of their progression in this phase. By spending a lot of time training at the increased tempo, players will eventually learn to control the bodies and skates to they’re able to execute the skill naturally at a higher pace.
3) Perform the skill with a puck at your new level: adding the puck adds in additional challenges. As players begin to become comfortable performing the techniques, adding the puck will force them to adjust other aspects of their skill to adapt to the new pace. Emphasize to players it is OK to lose the puck or fall in this phase.
By consistently forcing players outside their comfort zone, their speed and level of play will continue to climb. I would recommend making over-speed training part of every practice – you will be amazed at how much it will help your players improve!