In ice hockey, skating can make or break you. Here are the 4 fundamentals to becoming a top performing ice hockey skater, plus 4 extra techniques to push you right over the edge!
1. A solid, well-balanced stance is basic to any degree of speed you want to attain. If you will work on your starts, stops, and turns as described, you will be well on your way to good balance.
2. In striding, you have better balance if you skate with your feet about shoulder width apart. If your feet are too close together, you are more easily knocked off-balance in the heavy going of a game.
3. The faster you skate, the more you should bend forward from the waist. The comparison here is to the body-lean of a sprinter doing the 100-yard dash and the striding form of a two-miler. During the course of a hockey game, you will be both a sprinter and a strider as the play dictates. But when you really want to dig fast, with or without the puck, you should lean well into it.
4. For straight-ahead speed, your power comes from the thrust you get when the knee of the digging foot straightens. To get maximum thrust, the knee of the leg coming forward should be well bent. Be sure you carry this knee forward ahead of the foot. Then when you place your foot on the ice, you get full muscle power when the knee straightens.
Top athletes, especially outstanding track stars, recognize the importance of leg power and do something about it. They use a principle of training known as over-load. And you can use your own form of it, too. Here are some methods of over- loading:
1. Drive yourself all out as long as you are on the ice during scrimmage. Do not just coast around the rink on skates; they will do most of the work for you if you let them.
2. Skate in short, hard bursts, gradually building up the number of lengths of ice you can do successively.
3. Get a buddy to let you push him up and down the ice. You are over-loading by the amount he weighs.
4. In testing yourself at top speed, keep up a continual refrain in your mind: “I can go faster yet!" Be sure to warm up well before any all-out test.
If you study these 4 fundamentals and over-load with the 4 techniques above, you will improve your skating skills dramatically. And that in turn will improve your overall ice hockey performance.
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