Breaking down the science of speed
AYCANE Ambassador: Skating Performance Coach Andreas Larsson
Hockey trainer extraordinaire, Andreas Larsson, has worked with some of the best athletes on and off the ice for nearly 30 years. Just don’t call him a power skating coach. The skating performance coach (his preferred term) for the Swedish Elite League’s Malmö Redhawks and off-season trainer for NHL stars like Hampus Lindholm and Kevin Fiala, Larsson has joined the Circle to help take our athletes to the next level.
A Life Build On Speed
As a former professional speed skater, Larsson has always tried to get the maximum amount of burst from each stride. Since his specialty was sprint distances, explosiveness, technical strides, and edgework were incredibly important.
Larsson recalls being 17 when he decided he wanted to become a coach, and began surrounding himself with strong mentors. He worked his way up the ladder, and eventually sort of stumbled into hockey.
“I was working with my training partner in Calgary in 1994,” Larsson recalled. “Some hockey players saw the training jumps and speed exercises we were working on and asked if we could help them go through the movements. It turned out, they played for the Calgary Flames. I started to think ‘hey, maybe this could be something.”
Hockey Training For Speed & Performance
Larsson works with clubs, individuals, teams, and all types of players. His method involves on and off-ice training as well as work with a nutritionist. But the specific program depends on the player. This is why he doesn’t like the term “power skating” coach because there’s so much more to it than just power.
There’s speed, precision, agility, and transitions — all of which require much more than just a powerful stride. With Larsson, it also depends on a player’s unique role and position.
For example, Kevin Fiala, star forward for the Minnesota Wild spends most of his time on the ice in the neutral and offensive zone. Larsson, therefore, creates exercises that make him better as an offensive weapon — more elusive, more crafty, and lighter on his feet.
For client Hampus Lindholm, a defenseman now with the Boston Bruins, Larsson takes a different approach. A defenseman has different performance needs, mainly in their transitions pivoting from forwards to backward, retrieving pucks, and defending an opponent’s attack. Lindholm plays the left side, so Larsson analyzes his movement patterns and watches how he moves throughout a game. Lindholm still needs to be fast, but for different reasons than Fiala.
“When it comes to speed — if Hampus needs to defend Connor McDavid — he needs to be as fast as Conor McDavid, but going backward,” says Larsson. “We stress situations that could happen in a game — high tempo, quick decisions, body control — we mold everything off of real game action.”
Diving further, client Anton Blidh, also with the Boston Bruins, plays more of a fourth-line grinder role. Larsson trains Blidh in a fashion that helps him be disruptive — to play hard and be physical with his opponent.
In group settings (Larsson trains around 20 NHL players in the off-season) all athletes do the same program, but the individual sessions fine-tune the exercises to the athlete’s unique needs.
“The biomechanics are the same,” says Larsson. Everybody needs a functional body. But forwards are supposed to be creative, like an artist. They have to make it happen on offense. The quick mind and hands. On the other hand, the defenseman has to be a destroyer. They must read what’s happening on the fly and react to prevent the scoring chance. The needs for the players on each side is different.”
Training In AYCANE
Getting connected with AYCANE happened by chance for Larsson. In a training session with Hampus Lindholm last summer, Larsson placed his hand on Lindholm’s back during a mobility exercise and felt the quality of the shirt.
“Hey, that’s a nice shirt,” Larsson said. “Who makes that?”
Larsson and Lindholm share an agent, who was present during the session. The agent made the connection and now both are in the Circle.
“I live my life in sneakers and t-shirts,” said Larsson. “I have full training days every day. I want to look good and feel good. AYCANE hockey training gear feels smoother and lighter. They somehow feel fresher, too. On the ice, I feel the compression in the socks, and the players love the baselayers. When athletes ask me ‘hey, is AYCANE any good?’ I can say yes and really mean it.”
With the season winding down, Larsson gears up for another off-season training program. When does it start? Sooner than you’d think. “Guys typically take one or two weeks off from whenever they get knocked out, then they start training,” he says. “That’s what it takes to be successful at the top level. That’s what it takes to make it.”
Larsson lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has two sons. Learn more about his training programs at hockeypt.com.