Over the years I've noticed that the majority of hockey players enroll in power skating programs once, occasionally twice. Only a minority of players considers it to be an integral and ongoing aspect of their hockey development.
How, in this hockey era where speed is critical, where finesse and fast Europeans are dominating the sport, can skating skill be underestimated?
How good is good enough?
Many famous players have said that If you can't skate you can't play hockey. What that really means is that if you can't perform every hockey skating maneuver with speed, agility, mobility, power, quickness, explosiveness and efficiency, you won't make it to the higher levels! Achieving all of this is a long-term process, not a one shot deal. Those who think that after one or two power skating programs they have learned it all are very wrong. It takes years to become a great skater, just as it takes years to become a great player. Talent is not enough. Without dedication and lots of hard work in every aspect of the sport, you just don't get to the "bigs".
I have always said, "power skating may not be the most fun part of hockey, but it is the part of hockey that makes hockey more fun." I know kids want to play with the puck. They want to play the game. But skill development is like going to school. It's not always fun, but it's indispensable and really not optional. Remember, you don't get to university from kindergarten. It takes years and years. It takes a process. So does skating!
Following is the process that I believe necessary in mastering hockey skating skills. It is the process I pioneered, developed, and have taught successfully over the years.
- First, I teach how to execute each maneuver correctly (this in itself can take many years).
- Next, I teach how to execute them correctly and powerfully.
- Then correctly, powerfully and quickly.
- Then correctly, powerfully and quickly with the puck.
- Finally, correctly, powerfully and quickly with the puck in game situations and under lots of pressure.
You can see from this process that we are talking long term! It is not a one shot deal. Start working on skating technique at a young age (eight to ten) and continue working on it over a period of several years (six to ten years is a guide). Doug Brown (Detroit Red Wings) studied with me for ten years!!!
So many high school, major junior, college and even pro players, come to me for instruction because their coaches tell them they must improve their speed if they want to stay on the team. When they were young they might have been one of the best on their team, but at the higher levels they now are being out-skated by those with greater speed or skill. If you wait until that point you'll be find yourself behind the eight ball, which is not fun.
What you put in is what you'll get out. So, if you really want to make it in high-level hockey, dedicate yourself to mastering the most important skill of all - skating.
by Laura Stamm