Most hockey players who find themselves having issues with their skating ability become very frustrated. Skating is a part of the sport and if you are not, at best, an above average skater, you will most likely miss out on potential opportunities. Skating is the basis of hockey and what differentiates it from every other sport. Here are the six reasons you are not an effective and efficient skater:
- You are not bending your knees enough. If you are too upright, you are selling yourself short by not allowing your legs to generate the power they are capable of. The quadriceps and hamstrings are two of the largest muscles in the body. The more you bend your knees, the more these two muscles are engaged and stimulated. This stimulus allows energy to be stored in your legs, ready for use with an explosive stride.
- You do not recover from your stride properly. If you do not bring your stride leg completely back under your body, you will not be able to fully extend the opposite leg. You will ‘wide tracking’ which can lead to a 33% reduction in effectiveness of your stride. You need to bring your stride leg completely back under your body and give yourself the opportunity for nice, long strides.
- You do not understand your edges and do not have control over them. All joking aside if you are familiar with the lingo of the game you have inevitably heard the term ‘bender.’ This term describes a not-so-good hockey player. It is referring to the ankles being bent, usually on the inside edge. If your ankles are doing this, it is almost impossible to be an effective and efficient skater. You should be comfortable with your inside and outside edges, along with understanding what even on your edges means. Edge control effects skating in every way from the guide foot while skating forward or backwards to the actual crossing over of your feet.
- When crossing over going forward, you do not fully extend the leg that is being crossed over. Much emphasis is placed on the actual crossing of the feet leading many players to be satisfied with merely completing the crossover. A successful crossover is created by driving the leg being crossed over, under and away from the body, utilizing the outside edge.
- When crossing over going backward you are not reaching with your recovering leg. With backward crossovers, as you bring your leg back to recover at the conclusion of your crossover, most players tend to bring it back under their body. This works in every aspect of skating except the backward crossover. For the most power, effectiveness and efficiency, you want to reach with the recovering foot as far out as you can
- You should be bailing hay instead of playing hockey. When you are running, how often do you cross your arms in front of your body? Whey then does it makes sense to cross them in front of your body while skating? In hockey lingo this is called ‘pitch-forking.’ Anyone who has ever been in track understands that power can be generated with the swinging of your arms and the more effective you are at moving your arms, the more efficient your stride (running or skating) will be. Throwing your arms wildly in front of you slows you down, decreasing efficiency and effectiveness.
Are you having difficulty with any of the above items? If so, check out my fundamentals of skating e-book which breaks down these 6 problems and gives solutions to them. In this two part publication you will also find in-depth techniques on the skating stride and how to improve your skating ability.