What are a lot of people misunderstanding about skating?
One big misperception many coaches have is how much time we actually spend skating in a straight line. Players skate in a straight line less than 15% of the time. So coaches who spend more than 15% of time devoted to linear skating are misappropriating their practice time. The most common skating skills are:
- Explosive c-cuts (forward and backwards, inside and outside edge)
- Cross-over steps while moving (maximum of 3-4 at a time)
- Open hip pivots (as direction change and as puck protection)
- Tight turns
Also understand that linear skating very rarely occurs from a dead stop. Most of the time, players engage in 3-4 explosive linear strides after transitioning using one of the above skating skills. Game-specific speed should be taught by working on a player’s ability to accelerate while already in motion.
Players also have to be stable, but also reactive. Figure skating coaches often teach stability, but not the ability to be reactive. Figure skaters do not need to change direction quickly, as they have preplanned routines. Figure skaters also do not need to receive contact. For that reason, if a figure skating coach hasn’t adapted their teaching to suit a hockey player’s needs, they are potentially training players to adopt less reactive and more injury prone positions while skating. One specific example is the pulling cross-over. This move is common in figure skating, but leaves hockey players open to risk of MCL or ACL injury if they accept contact while pulling with their inside foot. Furthermore, pulling with the inside foot on a cross-over is less explosive and harder to execute. I’m not saying that figure skating coaches are inherently bad, but I’m saying that they need to alter what they teach to suit a hockey player’s needs.
So to skate better, faster…and to hack skating…focus on the most common skating skills in hockey.