Proper skating form ...
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
Proper hockey stride/form is everything to a skater. The better one's form, the better, faster, more powerful, and efficient a skater can become. Unfortunately, too many players learn the wrong techniques from a young age and then perpetuate those bad habits throughout their playing careers. These flaws rob them of being the best they can be. That said, it is never too late to correct these faults.
The concepts behind proper skating form are actually quite simple and easy to implement. I call them the three B's, bend (knee bend), body position and balance. Typically where most players fall down (figuratively, and in some cases literally) is in one or all of the B's! Common player flaws include; standing too upright (lack of knee bend) which robs them of power and stride length, bending too much or having poor body position (for example, bending too much at the waist, and not at the knees leaving them off balance) The goods news is all of these flaws are correctable If a player can get those three B's in line!
Below we will examine the foundations of the 3B's visually as players (kids) are visual learners. Have your player examine these pictures and then emulate the form and technique both on and off ice ... it will only help them improve their skating and subsequently their game. However, it will take time and effort to reconstruct poor habits, so don't expect your player to become Conor McDavid overnight lol !
In the image to the left, note the pronounced knee bend of the lead leg (90 degrees), the forward body lean (good forward momentum) and full leg extension off the push leg. Keeping the knee bent forces that push leg to get full extension, which increases power, speed and efficiency versus shorter, choppy strides. Additionally, the knee bend provides balance compared to a player skating too upright. Again, note the forward body lean. As aforementioned the proper body positioning provides positive forward momentum and note the players head is up (not down). Remember, good bend should always come from the knees not the waist and as the latter makes the player top heavy and off balance.
In the image to the right, we take a look at the same three B's but from a side view. Again, note the player is not upright but possesses good forward bend (coming from the knees not the waist), with his head up providing proper balance. Also, note the front knee bend at 90 degrees forcing that full stride extension for maximum power and speed.
As a player, skating was always been my strength and at an early age my mind was also very analytical, so I used to study (and then emulate) how players did things, whether it was hockey striding, baseball swing mechanics or even golf swing mechanics (still trying to master that one lol!)
The point is proper form in any sport is essential for success and hockey is no different. However, the concepts to get a player there are quite simple all the player needs to do is emulate and implement the right approach.
I will leave you with this final thought, which I heard from a very wise and older t-ball coach/volunteer ... practice does not make perfect ... PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT! So a player can practice all they want, but if they don't practice properly they are just permanently cementing their bad habits.
If you're an involved coach, or parent I urge you to take some pictures or videos of your player skating and then reference back to these pictures and point out to your player the differences in what they are doing versus what they should be doing ... after all, kids are visual learners !