Check out our coach’s tips for young hockey hopefuls
Skating efficiently is the best and quickest way to improve your game. In order for you to understand how to become a better skater, you must embrace three important concepts that will affect your ability to perform on the ice: glide, drive and thrust.
The Glide - Glide is the ability to “run” or coast your blades along the ice with as little friction as possible. Glide turns power into speed. It also allows you to create momentum during transitions.
The Drive - Drive is one of two ways that you can develop power while skating. Drive means the action of your drive leg, such that the skate of that leg (the drive skate) pushes against the ice, exerting force that is transferred to your glide skate (the skate that is not pushing). Remember, once you are moving, when one skate drives, the other glides. The harder you drive, the more energy you will direct to your glide skate. Provided you are gliding efficiently, a powerful drive will translate into speed.
The Thrust - Thrust is the second way to develop power while skating. Thrust is the additional power generated by the balls and the heels of the feet while driving. You produce thrust in your drive skate by extending and rotating your ankles, which manipulate the ball or the heel of your drive skate. When timed properly, this directs a surge of power toward your glide skate adding to the power from the initial drive and increasing the speed of your glide skate. Ideally, extension of your ankle occurs at the same time as the extension of your drive leg.
Holding The Stick - When moving forward or backward in a straight line while puckhandling, you need to keep your blade, arms and hands in a position that allows you to quickly and effectively execute a pass, shot or a deke.
Rolling Your Wrists - Rolling your wrists is the fundamental puckhandling movement. When rolling your wrists you create cradling or cupping effect with the blade of your stick that allows you to control the puck. You must be able to roll your wrists in order to increase the control and range of movement that is available to you when handling the puck away from your body — it will also help you perform more advanced puckhandling skills. It is essential that you become adept at rolling your wrists with your hands and arms in various positions in order to master advanced puckhandling moves.
Extending Your Reach - Players can greatly benefit from being able to move the puck away from their body, either to their forehand side or to their backhand side. This move can be used to deke a player, to change the angle or point of attack before a shot or a pass, or simply to avoid a stick check and keep possession of the puck.
Preparation - Winning teams prepare for every detail of game success to ensure that each player can contribute their personal best at the drop of the puck.
Engage Body & Mind - A well designed pre-game warm up not only activates the body to be ready for the puck drop, it also helps players engage mentally, channels positive aggression and creates team cohesiveness.
Take The Time To Warm Up - The warm up routine should begin with slow and simple exercises and then progress to faster more complex dynamic movements to allow players to wake up, feel loose and athletic and be well prepared to move explosively.
Don’t Delay - Use the dressing room, hallways, meeting rooms or outside behind the arena partially in game gear to reduce the time delay between the warm up and puck drop.
Challenge Yourself With Pre-Game Exercises - Begin with a balance challenge exercise to activate stabilizer and core muscles and spark mental alertness. Progress to add dynamic movement skills such as jog, backpedal, shuffle, crossovers, and sumo squats to develop full range of motion. Progress to one leg balance and single leg jumps to stimulate ankle, knee and hip joints followed by partner reaction drills that challenge players to mirror offense and defence roles. Shift gears into fast feet line, hurdle or ladder drills that increase rapid movement.
Play Hard - Players must be encouraged to perform all pre-game exercises with purpose, precision and focus. This approach helps engage both the mind and body to be game ready – explosive, powerful, confident, and well prepared for all the unpredictable excitement the game delivers right from the drop of the puck!