General Power Skating
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All Sports Are The Same
When force is applied correctly, powerfully and explosively, with exact timing, the result is power. When power is combined with quickness (rapid motion) the result is speed (of the self, of the puck, of the ball or other object).
Catch or be Caught
How do you know if someone is a fast skater? The best way to find out is always by having a race. And the type of race that most often stands out in a game is the race between a skater on a break away and one back checking.
How the Skate Blades Function
Edges have multiple functions.
- Blade edges are designed to cut into the ice. Because blades are rockered (have a radius) they are also designed to curve. Therefore, edges have two functions:
- To create a grip into the ice and set up the possibility for a powerful push, and
- To travel a curved path.
Lacing the Skates
Skates need to be laced securely from the balls of the feet to the tops of the ankles. Skaters' feet need to be well supported by the boots, but not laced so tightly that the skates act as "casts".
Skates - How Stiff, How Tight?
Recently I have been pleasantly surprised to see one or two brands of skates that are less stiff, more pliable and forgiving of the human anatomy.
Technique Training – How Much is Enough?
Perfecting any athletic skill is a long-term process that involves comprehension, practice and much repetition. In hockey, many skills are required. Skating, however, is still the most important.
Your speed is based on how quick you are on the puck, and how quickly you change directions with sharp turns, quick stops and explosive starts. Being quick in these areas is the difference between being a fast or a slow skater in the coach's eyes.
Two Hands or One
I maintain that when players have an opportunity for a breakaway, or when they are skating in open ice, attempting to accelerate, or when they do not have the puck, they should skate with one hand on the stick and use their arms forward and backward in the same motion and in rhythm with their legs. This method helps increase their forward momentum.
What is Power Skating Anyway?
Hockey kids are put out on the ice with a stick and puck and told, "Skate". Not told or taught how to skate, but just, "Skate (fast)". The assumption is that by skating more and (moving the legs) a million miles an hour they'll skate faster. Wrong! They may learn to move their legs fast, but they may end up going nowhere fast.
Power Skating Technique
The Arm Swing
Regardless of whether you skate with the stick in one hand or two, when you skate straight forward or straight backward the arm swing is also forward and backward. Referees, who do not use a hockey stick, should learn to use the same forward/backward arm swing.
Crossovers- Edges: Why and How
Edges are the key both for traveling a curved path and for pushing against the ice. Contrary to popular belief, skates are NOT held straight up. When held straight up the skater rides on the "flat" of the blade (rides on inside and outside edges simultaneously). The flat of the blade is designed to travel a straight line on the ice. It is not designed to curve or to grip the ice. Therefore, when on the flat it is impossible to curve or to push.
The Hockey Stop
Both skates are used to stop. Body weight distribution is usually 60% on the front (outside) skate and 40% on the back (inside) skate.
The Pivot (Tight Turn)
When executing a pivot, the shoulders should remain level with the ice. Often players keep the inside shoulder higher than the outside shoulder; this provides stability. Lowering (dropping) the inside shoulder causes too much lean or tilt into the circle, which at speed and on a sharp curve causes a loss of balance.
The Toe Flick
When skating forward the beginning of the push comes from back third of the blade (the heel). The second third of the push comes from the middle third of the blade, and the final third of the push comes from the front third of the blade (the toe). Hockey players call this final push the "toe flick" or the "kick".
What Is The "C - Cut Push" And How Is It Used In Hockey?
The C - cut maneuver is done with both skates on the ice. The C - cut push is usually executed by pushing the outside skate (and leg) against the inside edge of the blade while gliding on the inside skate.
Weaving Crossovers for Lateral Mobility
Contrary to straight forward or straight backward skating, lateral motion requires wide base. In order to shift weight rapidly from side to side, the feet should be somewhat wider apart than the shoulders. The following sequences show forward and backward weaving crossovers.
Physics of Power Skating
Circle Physics And Speed In Crossovers
While performing forward and backward crossovers, the edges of the skates ride on the periphery of the circle. Edges and knee bend are deep. The entire lower body (edges, knees, and hips) leans into circle at a strong angle. To prevent a fall the upper body (torso, shoulders, and head)must be situated directly above the center of gravity.
Common Elements of Speed
When we think of skating speed, we seem to focus on straight ahead speed. But in hockey, there are numerous skating maneuvers. All have to be performed at top speed, and while controlling the puck. Forward skating, backward skating, circling and cornering, moving from side to side (lateral mobility), instantaneous stops, quick turns, explosive starts, changing gear while in motion, and of course, balance and agility.
The edge of the pushing skate must grip (dig into) the ice in order to set up the potential for a powerful push. The edge of the gliding (directional) skate must dig into the ice (be on a strong edge) in order to allow the skater to execute sharp curves.
Elements of Force Application Necessary to Generate Speed
Most athletic motions have at least four basic elements of force application. I call them the wind up (coil or preparation), release (push, swing, throw, etc.), (full extension or completion), and weight shift.
One Third, One Third, One Third Principle
I have a principle which I like to call the "one third, one third, one third" principle. The reason for this is that the First third of the push comes from the back third of the blade, the second third of the push comes from the middle third of the blade, and the final third of the push is comes from the front third of the blade. It follows that each third of the push is equivalent to one third of the power generated by that push.
The Skating Pushes and Power Generation
There are four major pushes in hockey skating. I have named these pushes so that players can easily visualize and remember them. The "stride push" is used for skating straight forward. The "backward C-cut push" is used for skating straight backward. The "X-push" is the second push of forward and backward crossovers. The forward C-cut push is the first push (entry phase) of a pivot or tight turn, and is used for maneuvers that require both agility and stability, such as when warding off an opponent (bulling) or protecting the puck.
After pushing off, fully extend your pushing (left) leg and drag the first two or three inches of the left inside edge (called "the toe") on the ice for about two seconds.
Hockey Training for Different Age Groups
In recent years sports scientists have spoken out emphatically about the harmful effects of premature and over-intense athletic training of young children. Many complain that hockey programs for youngsters are too intense, competitions too many, seasons too long, emphasis on winning too great. Young children are pushed by parents and coaches to choose and specialize in the sport way before they are mature enough to do so.
How Good is Good Enough?
- 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.
Quickness is most effective when players move their legs correctly, powerfully, through their full range of motion and as rapidly as possible.
Several technical components must be combined and coordinated to execute quick transitions: Strong knee bend, edge control, perfect balance, powerful pushes, proper use of the arms, transfer of body weight, and rapid leg speed. Awareness, anticipation, creativity, and mental and physical toughness are also imperative. These skills CAN be improved upon with good teaching and many years of perfect practice.
Why Power Skating
Becoming A Complete Hockey Player
Jack Blatherwick, , a good friend and world renowned expert in off-ice training, says, "The process of becoming the complete hockey players is a multi-edged sword: Without proper technique, no amount of off-ice training will help a player optimize his or her skating. On the other hand, without a good physiological base of strength, explosiveness, and muscular endurance (in a good skating position) skating instruction will have less effect."
Speed, Speed, Speed
Skating, and the ability to control the puck and do magical things with it at high speeds, are common attributes of the great hockey players. These talents are developed naturally by only a few of them. Most players spend a grueling amount of time developing what appear to be inborn gifts. Skating technique is key to, and an integral part of, speed.
When to Start on the Toes.
First of all, by the "toes", what we really mean are the inside edges of the balls of the feet. We can't use our toes on skates in the same way as we do on shoes, because we would slip, and to skate we must grip, or dig into, the ice.
Why, When and How to Start on the Toes
Starting on skates are comparable to sprint runners starting out of the blocks. In order to get going quickly and explosively they take the first few steps on the balls of their feet. They do not start on their heels! In hockey we need to do the same thing. What we call "the toes of the skates" are in actuality the front two to three inches of the inside edges (the balls of the feet).