Mastering your Movement: Tips to Improve Skating Efficiency and Body Control in Hockey

Improving skating efficiency and overall body control on the ice will significantly enhance a hockey player’s on-ice abilities. Being in the correct positions at the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, etc. allows athletes to optimize their ability to move through space. It will also lead to improved energy output, puck control, and ability to make plays safely and effectively. Here are some tips for improving your skating efficiency and body control. 

1. Unilateral Balance

The most common things we see in the best skaters are unilateral (single leg) strength & balance. It is essential to be comfortable and stable on one leg. Unilateral strength not only helps with our glide, but also the amount of power an athlete is able to use with each push. Try to incorporate some explosive, unilateral exercises into your training! A great way to do this is by adding jumps to your typical squats & lunges.

2. Joint Flexion

The ankle joint must be able to effectively flex and extend to maximize speed and power output. These movements are referred as Dorsiflexion (ankle flexion) and Plantarflexion (ankle extension). “Flexion” helps load energy; while “extension” releases energy. Be mindful of how your ankles move through various exercises. 

3. Glide

Dorsiflexion has an important role in helping us find balance on the “flats” of our blades.  Without Dorsiflexion, the ankle muscles are not activated and will have stability issues. By activating (flexing) the ankle joint, it stabilizes and allows us to glide much more efficiently. Improved glide leads to improved energy conservation!

5. Hip Mobility 

Hockey players must have mobile hips! Specifically, the ability to externally rotate. A prime example of this is our first 3-steps when accelerating. In order to ‘grab’ the ice, we need to open our hips so the blade is almost perpendicular to the direction we are moving. This helps us to cover more distance while getting up to top speed.

4. Hand placement 

When changing direction on the ice (i.e punch turn, pivot, stop & start, etc.) we want to keep our hands in a functional position, ready to deliver or receive the puck at any time. Keeping your hands free and in-front of the body allows for improved control and faster playmaking abilities. A good example of this in a game scenario is a player with puck possession turning to their forehand. Rather than ‘crossing’ the arms (which takes the puck out of a functional position), we keep our top hand beside the hip with an elevated elbow. This keeps the puck functional on the forehand, ready to make a play out of the turn.

In conclusion, improving your skating ability and body control on the ice can significantly enhance your in-game performance. We can improve these with specific off-ice exercises, also some added mindfulness to our training.

 

9 Week Skating & Skills Elite Hockey Training

A progressive skating & skill development program to help athletes gain a better understanding of their movement, enhance their skills, and apply them into game scenarios. Maximum 5:1 athlete to coach ratio. Program consists of 9 hours of progressive development.

  • Begins with a movement/biomechanics introduction
  • Find a solid athletic foundation, learn about joint flexion at the ankle, knee and hip
  • Apply movement concepts to defence/forward-specific patterns
  • Progress into game scenarios
  • Add pressure & pass options to train decision-making and processing speed
  • Fast paced training environment to optimize cognitive ability
  • Maximum 5:1 Athlete to Coach ratio