Why does a whip crack?
Answer: Because it is going faster than the speed of sound.
Who's hands move faster during a swing, hockey slap shot or golf drive?
Answer: Same around 75 mph
Which goes faster, slap shot or golf drive?
Answer: Golf Drive, of course.
Why the speed difference with the same body operating? It has to do with the end speed of contact which is a result of length of lever and kinetic linking.
How does this apply to hockey??
So we know we can't really improve the length of our sticks (to some degree I guess - which has something to do with Chara winning hardest shot every year), so deduction tells us to shoot harder we have to improve kinetic linking. I am not going into exactly how apply this to improve your players, but to take note and understand that this will count for some of the reason some can shoot harder and skate faster than others.
What is kinetic linking?
Lets simplify this since a bunch of fancy physics stuff will only make it sound like it is too hard for kids and if we need a dictionary or physics degree to read then it is useless.
Take a stick...Swing it.
Now the end of the stick is going way faster than your hips, correct?
This is kinetic linking.
A progressive increase in speed from the most massive to the least massive body part, and the stick is just and extension so the end becomes least massive body part. Now think of the whip, when when you snap it with just your wrist if gets pretty fast, but when you use your whole body, that is when you can make it snap and break the speed of sound.
We want this movement to flow as smooth as possible, which is why good shooters are able to shoot hard, The flow of the movement comes into the hips during the back-swing and then the flow of energy goes from hips/core to shoulders, elbows, hands, down the shaft of the stick to the end where the stick hits the ice inches before the puck to bend the shaft and then slide along the ice till it hits the puck and then it springs of the stick into an amazing 100 mph slap shot.
Now this sounds like normal slap shot, correct??? Yes, it is and many coaches do know that they need to put your body into it. What they fail to realize is that when they are shooting they need to watch the flow of the energy into the shot. When it is interrupted (hitch in the swing) then the power generated is lost or if the movement is not part of the flow (arms moving to fast and hips are not generating the power first) from core to end, then you have sub-optimal power.
Same thing applies to skating. Start from the core and move out to the end of the skate. The optimal flow of this energy is about a deep crouch and starts in the glutes then flows out through your legs to your skates. Now take away a deep crouch and the energy flows not from the glutes, but from the leg muscles and you have less energy flow and thus you are not skating as fast as you possible can. (I am over simplifying the skating here and efficiency and technique will be talked about in a later blog entry.).
Video Analysis would be a great way to help identify where the flow is being interrupted. Since you can slow it down, plus showing the athlete what they look like is invaluable in terms of trying to fix technique since a picture is worth a thousand words. (kinda reminds me I should put more pictures in my posts)
Thanks for reading