Why Your First Step Quickness Sucks

Why Your First Step Quickness Sucks

"I'm fast once I get going but my first couple of steps are slow."

I hear hockey players say those words all the time. So let's stay on this topic for a minute.

Why does your first step quickness suck?

In all likelihood you're simply not strong enough.

And, specifically, you're not strong enough moving your body weight from a dead stop position (a.k.a. you lack "starting strength").

However, this quality can be trained and developed off the ice. A few exercises that are perfect for improving starting strength:

* Pause squats

* Box squats

(Not a squat to box, but a box squat with a pause at the bottom)

* Squats off pins

* Trap bar deadlifts

* Conventional and sumo deadlifts

(Either off the floor if you can do them, or off blocks)

What do all the above exercises have in common?

You need to overcome inertia at the beginning to get the weights moving.

Think about it:

When you do regular barbell squats, you can take advantage of something called the stretch reflex (elastic energy stored in your muscles during the eccentric part of the movement) to assist you on the way up.

By adding a pause, however, you greatly diminish contribution from the stretch reflex, thus making the lift harder. That's because you initiate the concentric part from a dead start.

Same with the deadlift... the bar is lying there on the floor, and you gotta pick it up from a total standstill.

These five exercises listed can contribute to more powerful first steps probably better than any other barbell or dumbbell movement out there.

I've found that my strongest and fastest athletes are generally close to a 2x BW box squat and 2.5x BW trap bar deadlift.

Some may be slightly below and some above those numbers - like one of my U20 players who has hit 500 pounds on the trap bar deadlift at a body weight of 165 pounds, making it a 3x BW lift - but they work well as a guideline.

So if you're hitting those numbers already, strength likely ain't the issue for your lack of first step quickness. You'd get more out of sprint and jump training to boost your speed.

If not... then you've got some work ahead to bring your strength up.

This program will show you how:


Yunus Barisik

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Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, specializes in making hockey players strong, fast and explosive. He has trained 500+ hockey players at the junior, college and pro levels, including NHL Draft picks and World Champions. An accomplished author, Yunus has had articles published on top fitness and performance sites, including T Nation, STACK and Muscle & Strength. He also wrote Next Level Hockey Training, a comprehensive resource for ice hockey players on building athletic strength, size and power, while staying injury-free.

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