Common Problems in Ice Hockey Skating Techniques
A good hockey player depends upon a great skating technique to support his game.
Let’s look at the three main phases of the skating process in hockey, and bring up a few common mistakes that can be made in each phase. The first phase is the stride, or where the power comes from to glide forward. This action begins in the hip of the back leg, flows through the knee, and finishes in a full extension of the ankle. The leg and foot should be at about 45 degrees from the direction that you intend to skate, and the weight should be on the ball of the foot, and more to the inside edge of the blade.
When the leg is fully extended, you should be able to visualize a straight line from the foot, through the leg and hip, all the way up to the shoulders. Don’t do a lot of arm flailing, and keep only one hand on your stick if you do not have the puck.
Common problems with the stride phase are that your stride skate comes off the ice before the leg is fully extended. Skate slowly around the rink to check to make sure that the leg is fully extended before you begin to bring it forward, to make sure you get the full power and speed from each stride. Also check that your ankles are essentially straight, and not leaning strongly in or out. If so, you might want to find a different pair of hockey skates that provide the amount of ankle support that you require. Make sure that your weight is more to the inside edge of the blade, and don’t feel embarrassed about falling down when trying this. Do not point your toe straight down at the completion of the stride, for this upsets balance and decreases speed.
Once the stride phase is complete, the next phase is when you glide on the forward foot. Weight should be over the ball of the foot, and the leg bent nearly 90 degrees. The rest of your body should have shoulders over hips and eyes forward, not down. This phase takes strong muscles, and it takes time to develop it well. The big problem here is balance, where your leg should be directly under the center of your body, your weight should be centered on the blade and not on the inside edge, and your head is up and over your support leg.
The final phase is to get the back, or stride, leg underneath your body again. Slightly raise the hockey skate off the ice, and return the leg so that the skate points in the direction you want to go next. This gets you ready to use the other leg to begin the next stride phase. The biggest problem here is to avoid moving your body side to side, as that will disrupt your balance and slow you down. During the recovery phase, also make sure that the gliding skate stays flat and your weight does not move to the inside or outside edge of the hockey skate.
These pointers should help improve your hockey skating technique. There are a number of good books that include drills to practice individual parts of the skating technique, and drills to strengthen your muscles.