As a long-time hockey skills coach, I get asked by parents all the time about how their son or daughter can increase their skating speed. I do a lot of power skating drills, but when breaking down a player’s stride, I always start with the basics.
Stance/Body Position – There are a few things I look for when it comes to a hockey player’s stance. First, are their knees bent and where are their shoulders positioned? If your knees aren’t bent, you don’t have stability. If your shoulders are over your toes, you’ll be out of balance. When a player is in a wide stance, knees bent, butt down, and shoulders back, I refer to this as the “power position.”
Full Extension/Full Recovery – The perfect stride happens when your skates extend as far out as possible, ending with a toe flick, and recovering back to the starting point, directly under the body. One stride you don’t want to do is the railroad stride. This stride is when you extend out, usually not to full extension, and the recovery is minimal with the skate staying on the outside of body.
Head Bobbing – Pay special attention to the movement of the player’s head when they are doing hockey skating drills and trying to skate faster. Does it look like a bobber in the water when a fish is biting, going up and down? If so, this is a correction that needs to be addressed. The player’s head should stay at one level the entire time.
Arm Swing – The motion of the arms is really important in skating speed for hockey. When the arms go in a side-to-side motion, it slows the player down. This side-to-side movement creates a force different from what the legs are doing. To become more efficient, the arms should start at the side of the body and alternate between pushing forward in front and then back to the side.
Sharp Skates – Of all the skating tips I can share, this is probably the most important, especially when kids are just learning how to skate. The rule of thumb is to have skates sharpened every other ice session. If young players have dull skates, they’ll develop a compensated stride and never reach their full skating potential.
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