Skating is most important and fundamental element in the game of ice hockey. Few players will ever reach a high level of competition with below average skating skills. With that said its also no surprise that successful players place skating high on their priority list and strive for improvement daily. No matter what your skill level is there is always room for skating improvement. Here are a few tips to help you become a stronger, faster, and more efficient skater.
If you're looking for more information check out our hockey training blog to help improve your hockey skating!
Bend Your Knees. It is very difficult to generate power without using proper knee bend when skating. Be sure that you are bending at the knees and ankles and not at the back. Try to extend your legs and feet out to their maximum length each time you stride. This can only be accomplished with proper knee bend and try to avoid bobbing up and down when striding. If you're trying to develop a smooth long stride, a slide board can be very helpful with gaining balance in strength in your stride.
Recover Fully. Recover your skates fully under the middle of your body after each stride. Try to pull skates back in a direct line as quick as possible. This requires great balance. If you're trying to strengthen your balance try a balance board.
Push At A 45 Degree Angle. Push you legs out from your body at a 45 degree angle when striding. This is the angle where maximum forward power and speed is generated from.
Toe Flick. At the end of each stride use your angle and toes to flick/rip the ice. This helps gain extra boost at the end of each stride.
Move Arms Front To Back. Try to avoid swinging arms side to side when skating. Instead move your arms in a front to back motion much like a dryland sprinter. With your entire body moving in a straight line direction, you'll notice a more effective stride!
Upper Body Still. Keep upper body movements, such as head and shoulders, to a minimum when skating. Extra upper body movements will throw off balance and are unnecessary. Use an agility ladder or hockey cones to work on speed and agility drills while maintaining a silent upper body.
Keep Stick on the Ice. When your not expecting a pass, take one hand off your stick but make sure it stays on the ice while skating. Never skate with your stick completely off the ice. If you have questions about this skill make sure to watch players like Sidney Crosby or Pavel Datsyuk. They're always ready for the puck.
Use Quick Starts. Stay low and use your full skate blade when starting from a complete stop. The first few strides will be quick and short then gradually lengthen to full long stride as you gain speed. It might be helpful to use dryland training aids such as weight vests or plyotubes to help gain power and speed.
Train With Resistance. Training on the ice with skate weights and resistance devices is a great way to strengthen skating muscles. The Hockey Lateral Speed Training is a great product to help you become a stronger and more powerful skater.
Many of the same rules apply to backwards skating as to forward skating. However, there are a few exceptions. Here are some tips to help you become a better backwards skater.
Backward Skating Tips
Bend Your Knees. In order to get the maximum power out of each C cut you must use proper knee and ankle bend. Pretend like you are sitting in a chair with you knees bent and upper body straight. Squat jumps and lunge jumps are a great exercise to work on away from the rink to help gain balance and power for backwards skating.
Use Full C Cuts. Try to extend your legs and feet out to their full length with each C cut. This will ensure that you are getting the maximum power out of each push. Again, slide boards are a great training product for lengthen your stride away from the rink.
Recover Fully. Bring skates fully back under your body after each C cut. A full recovery must be mastered in order to achieve a full C cut.
Keep Back And Chest Up. A common mistake is letting your upper body extend too far over your toes. Keep your head and shoulders back so your weight is distributed directly over the middle of your skates.
One Hand On Stick. Releasing your bottom hand from your stick will allow you to keep your head and chest up easier. It also makes it easier to poke check the puck away from your opponent.
Rip The Ice. Much like the toe flick in forward skating, use your ankle and toes to rip the ice as you make a C cut.
Glide Leg Straight. After making a C cut your glide leg should be directing your body in a straight line. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Both Feet On Ice. Both feet should remain on the ice at all times when skating backwards unless you are crossing over.
Move Arms Front To Back. Try to avoid swinging arms side to side when skating. Instead, move arms in a front to back motion much like running backwards off the ice. Performing backwards sprints off the ice is a great way to work on this arm motion.
Train With Resistance. Training on the ice with skate weights will strengthen skating muscles and make you a better backwards skater. See our Hockey Lateral Speed Training to see if you can benefit from this type of training.