Hockey Skating Tips

Here are a few Hockeyshot Tips to improve your skating skills so you can gain explosive speed!

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1. Forward Skating

The forward skating motion should be your first priority when learning how to skate. Although it may look easy, skating in a forward motion is very difficult and requires a lot of time and practice. Learning to skate with a proper technique will make you improve a lot faster and give you the confidence to develop into a great skater in the future.

Proper Technique

• Start with your skates forming a ''V'', knees turned outwards.
• Bend your knees (you should not be able to see your toes).
• Push one foot at a time and transfer all your body weight into each stride.
• Reach a full extension on each stride with your driving leg and with your ankle.
• When you fully extend one leg, rapidly return the leg back to the ''V'' position and extend the other leg.
• As you get more comfortable, work on extending faster (you will gain more speed).

Tips

• When skating forward, your feet should always be hip width apart.
• Your body is always square to the direction of travel.
• Your back should be straight, your head in the centre of your shoulders with eyes focusing forward.
• Don't lean your body to far forward (use the body lean that gives you maximum balance and lets you to take fully extended strides).
• Make sure to always bend your knees (beyond level of comfort) A good knee bend equals more power and more balance.
• Skate one foot at a time.
• Fully extend on each stride with a quick recovery.
• As you become a better skater, focus on taking wider strides for more speed.
• Skate with a proper arm swinging movement (arm and leg movements work in rhythm with their opposites).
• Always keep your stick on the ice, except when you are looking to gain top speed.



2. Backward Skating

Backward skating is one of the most difficult skating technique to master. To become a fluent backward skater, lots of effort and patience is needed. In a game, a player spends nearly half the time skating backwards, and it is especially important to play a solid defensive game. By learning the proper technique and following these simple tips, you will be on your way to becoming a solid backward skater.

Proper Technique

• Begin by bending your knees (they should be covering your toes).
• Keep your back straight and eyes looking forward.
• Start each push from directly under your body (from the hips down).
• The pushing foot drives to the side to full extension (forming a half moon ''C'') while the other foot glides back.
• Push one leg at a time and use all your body weight on each stride.
• Pivot the heel of the pushing foot up and outward so it is perpendicular to your glide foot (Form and upside down letter ''L'').
• Try to maintain a straight line as possible (do not swivel your hips).
• Focus on one stride at a time.

Tips

• Always keep your eyes looking forward and shoulders back.
• As you improve, angle your upper body slightly forward from the hips (your stance remains almost vertical).
• Always keep your hips low to the ice.
• Remember to have a strong knee and ankle bend.
• Push your leg to a full extension and make sure your gliding leg goes back in a straight line on the flat of the blade.
• Skate one foot at a time.
• Always keep both feet on the ice (not like forward skating).
• Use sprinter type arm movement while skating with one hand on stick.

Download USA Hockey Magazine Backward Skating Article (150 kb)

3. Crossovers

Crossovers are a very important part of a hockey player's game. Without proper crossover abilities, turning quickly becomes very difficult. They are the maneuvers that allow players to accelerate on curves, corners and circles. Remember to be very patient when learning crossovers as they are one of the most difficult skating skill to master.

Proper Technique

• Make sure to bend your knees (ideal bend is 90 degrees between shin and thigh) and stay low.
• As you lean into the turn, keep your shoulders still and level to the ice (do not lean your upper body into the circle).
• Only the lower body parts are aligned and pointing in the direction of the turn.
• Leaning into a turn, the outside leg crosses over (in front of) the inside leg keeping the skates as low to the ice as possible (within one inch to the ice).
• Bring the outside leg back in front while remaining balanced and low to the ice.
• Repeat crossover until you are going in desired direction.

Tips (for both forward and backward crossovers).

• Hips and skates always face direction of travel.
• Shoulders remain as level as possible.
• Always keep your head up and eyes pointing forward.
• Good strong knee bend and ankle bend are the key to good crossovers.
• Pushes are outward / inward (not forward / backward).
• Body weight is always above the outside skate.



4. Braking

A) Forward Stop (90 degrees)

• As you get ready to stop, turn your hips 90 degrees from the direction of travel, turning both skates simultaneously.
• The outside skate slides along the top of the ice on an inside edge, the inside skate trails the outside one sliding on top of the ice but on an outside edge.
• Keep both feet wide apart from each other.
• Transfer most of your body weight on the outside skate (if too much weight is on the inside foot, you will fall and loose your balance).
• Counterbalance the stop with your upper body, keeping shoulders parallel to the ice.

B) Backward Stop (Hips straight / V Position)

• As you get ready to stop, keep your hips facing in the direction of travel and begin your slide.
• Turn your knees outwards and bring heels in under shoulders.
• There should be snow coming from both inside edges as you begin the slide on the ice.
• As you begin to feel conformable with the slide, dig inside edges deeper into the ice.
• Your body weight should be centered evenly on both feet (do not lean to far forward or you might loose your balance).

C) Backward Stop (90 degree hip turn slide)

• As you get ready to stop, turn your hips 90 degrees from the direction of travel, with your back foot lifting slightly off the ice, then returning to the ice.
• Both the inside skate and outside skate slide on top of the ice, with the inside skate trailing the outside skate.
• Your trailing foot should be in front of your chin, while your back foot should be slightly behind the back of your helmet.
• Most of your body weight should be distributed to your back skate.

Tips (Forward and backward stops)

• As you get better at stopping, increase skating speed prior to stopping (the key is being able to stop quickly at any speed).
• A good knee bend is vital to making good stops.
• Always keep your eyes forward and your head up.
• Your back should be as straight as possible.
• Don't be discouraged if you fall, it's a sign that you are closer to stopping.
• Remember to shift most of your weight on the outside foot for balance.



5. Explosive Starts

To become a complete skater, you want to be able to explode on the ice from a gliding or stopped position. Many skaters take too much time to gain speed. Hockey is a game of transitions, and you must master the quick start to gain speed quickly from any positions. By following the quick start technique you will gain speed a lot faster. You should also engage in off-ice training and conditioning, as your leg strength is the vital factor in achieving an explosive start.

Proper Technique

• Bend knees deeply (you will need all your leg muscles to engage in a powerful start).
• Form the letter ''V'' with both skates with your knees pointing outwards.
• Spring forward and drive off from the ball of your foot.
• Fully extend your legs on each stride and fully extend the ankles (a lot of the explosive speed comes from the ankle flexion).
• Visualize yourself as a sprinter (you should be jumping and landing on your fist 3 to 4 steps).
• Thrust your body forward and transfer as much body weight as you can to the jumping foot.
• Focus on having ''quick'' feet as the faster you execute your jumping strides, the faster you will gain speed.

Tips

• Good deep knee bend is vital to a quick start.
• Engage in off ice training to develop powerful leg muscles (the more powerful your leg muscles, the more explosive you will be on the ice).
• Do not lean your body too far forward, as you will loose your balance.
• The ability to get up on your toes is what will get you to explode faster.
• Keep on practicing and don't get discouraged (improving explosiveness takes time and practice).

Download USA Hockey Magazine Quick Starts Article (150 kb)

6. Transitions

Transition moves in hockey are extremely important in one's development into becoming a great skater. It is one thing to be comfortable skating in both forward and backward motions. But in order to become a great skater, you must be able to make a quick transition from the forward to backward motion, and from the backward to forward motion. Transition moves require a lot of patience and practice. Apply the proper transition techniques and you will be on your way to becoming a much more complete skater.

A) Pivot - Front to Back

B) Pivot - Back to Front

Proper Technique - Forward to Backward

• Bend your knees deeply.
• Keep your back straight, head up and eyes pointing forward.
• As you get into the transition, turn your hips 90 degrees from your direction of travel (both hips turn simultaneously).
• Keep upper body centered over the top of your skates to stay balanced throughout the transition.
• The outside skate (planted on the inside edge) pushes a half moon (''C'') deeply into the ice.
• The inside skate is on an outside edge and gets you going in a straight line backwards as it pulls underneath the body extremely hard to full extension, forming a letter ''Y''.

Proper Technique - Backward to Forward

• Bend your knees deeply.
• Keep your back straight, head up and eyes pointing forward.
• As you get ready to make the transition, center all your weight over the turning skate (Plant the skate on an inside edge and it will automatically turn).
• Your other foot (the one you will land on) gets slightly lifted off the ice and forms and arrow tip position under your body.
• Push off with your pivoting foot and make sure to counterbalance against it to maintain the proper grip to get power and speed from your push.
• Once you have made the transition and have your momentum going forward, pop up on your toes and apply the technique of the quick forward start (''V'' start).

Tips

• Practice until you can make transitions without loosing any momentum.
• Make sure to turn hips 90 degrees when executing the transition (improper hip turn movement results in a loss of speed and balance).
• Always keep your head up and eyes facing forward while doing transitions.
• Make sure to have a firm knee bend to stay balanced and give you added power when making the transition.



7. Tight Turns(Pivots)

While crossovers are the best way to gain top speed in turning corners, it is also very important to learn how to turn quickly while keeping both skates close together. Hockey is not a game played skating in a straightforward motion; you must be able to turn quickly and confidently. When wanting to quickly change directions, a quick turn with both skates together will get you going in the desired direction a lot faster. Master the tight turn (pivot) and you'll have a great advantage in many game situations.

Proper Technique

• Make sure your knees are bent deeply (ahead of your toes), your upper body is straight, your head is up in the center of your shoulders and that your eyes are pointing forward as you enter the turn.
• As you begin to turn, shift your body weight into the inside leg (the inside hip guides the turn).
• Keep the inside shoulder pressing up to remain parallel to the ice surface (try to maintain outside shoulder as parallel to the ice as possible).
• Your outside leg glides next to your turning inside leg, and your skates turn simultaneously in the same direction.
• Once you have turned and are going in the desired direction, execute a sharp crossover and apply the quick start principles to gain top speed.

Tips

• Keep your eyes pointing forward as you turn.
• Exaggerate the knee bend, as you must be very balanced to turn as quickly as possible.
• The sharper you want to turn, the more downward body weight you should apply entering the turn.
• Use your hips as the steering wheel as you execute the turn and keep your legs close together to get a quicker turn.
• Focus on maintaining as much speed as you can while turning.
• Keep your stick in front of you (preferably both hands on the stick).



8. Top 10 Skating tips

1 - Knee Bend

Always bend you knees deeply in front of your toes (90 degrees). A good knee bend will give you more powerful strides and help you attain better balance. You will also be a lot more solid on the ice. Remember that you can never have enough knee bend while skating.

2 - Head Up, Eyes Forward

Always keep your head up and eyes pointing forward. This will greatly improve your hockey skills, as you will always be aware of what is going on around you. Applying this tip will be difficult when stick handling the puck, but practice it until you are very comfortable. It will greatly improve your stick handling skills and you will be a much better player for it.

3 - Full Extension

Fully extend your leg and ankle on each stride. This will help you attain more speed and become much more explosive on the ice. Keep on reminding yourself to take long strides until it becomes automatic.

4 - Fast Leg Recovery

Develop a fast leg recovery after executing your strides. Keep in mind that the faster the leg recovery, the more speed you will gain. This is an area that is often forgotten by many skaters, keep reminding yourself to do it and gain an edge on the competition.

5 - Balance

Always have your weight directly over your skates as much as possible for stability and balance (when your knees are bent, your always sitting in the middle of your skates). Proper balance is crucial, especially when turning, stopping and during contact. Focus on your balance and you will spend a lot more time on your skates, rather than falling on the ice.

6 - Lightness on skates

Try to feel light on your skates, especially when you are gliding on the ice. You will become a much more graceful skater and use a lot less energy. The more energy you save, the less tired you will become, and the more stamina you will have in the late stages of a game.

7 - Wide Strides

Focus on having fast wide strides. When you are in motion and have already attained good speed, your strides should be a lot wider than when you take off. Again, focus on fully extending to the side, while having quick leg recovery, and you are on your way to improving your overall speed

8 - Feet hip Width Apart

Always have your skates at least hip width apart when skating (they will often be wider). Having your skates to close together will result in a loss of balance. Your skates should be in a position where you feel comfortable, and where it feels natural.

9 - Skate Maintenance

Always keep your skates properly sharpened at the level you feel the most comfortable. Get to know the person who sharpens your skate and always get them done with the same sharpness. When you know what works for you, keep your skates in that state as much as possible. This will greatly benefit your skating skills.

10 - Off Ice Training

Engage in an off-ice-training program that combines power, flexibility and endurance. A perfect skating technique without strong powerful legs will not let you attain your full potential in terms of speed and explosion. Focus on a program that will build power, endurance and flexibility.

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