Making Stridz Athlete Development Logo

Over the past several months, I have noticed a common trend among hockey players (especially younger developing players) of not properly transitioning from their starting technique to their forwards skating technique. This transitional phase is extremely important in hockey as rarely do we reach top speed within a game. When we work with our athletes, we try and educate them through the use of video, at what point they need to place more emphasis on stride width and length as opposed to stride rate. It goes without saying that if you have a higher stride rate and longer stride length you will be able to skate faster. However, players often get misguided when they hear coaches discuss "quick feet" in terms of their starts and this transition phase. As hockey players, it is important to emphasis a high stride rate during the first 2-3 steps, but this should not result in incomplete hip and knee extension during the push off nor should it sacrifice length. We want to achieve a balance between rate and length within our skating. As we get past 2-3 steps, our length will naturally increase as we begin to glide more on the ice, but the goal should be to go through the entire push off as "quick" as possible while getting into complete hip and knee extension in order to be in a position to start the next push. If I were to take two player who have the exact same stride length and one of them gets 2 more strides in during the length of the ice, I like my chances of saying the guy with the extra to strides will end up skating faster by the end of the rink.

The common error or trend which we see in our athletes is that they don't transition into the length early enough. This will often result in a player looking like they are "running" down the ice as opposed to "skating" down the ice. Often times these players will actually be airborne (like we would see in a sprinter) and they look like the are skating really fast when in reality they are not. In order to prevent this from happening, the athlete must begin to emphasize a more lateral (or sideways directed) push off as they take steps 3-5. Between steps 2 and 3 is when this transition should start to occur. Once we get this transition properly developed in the athletes movement pattern, we can then begin to challenge them to get into a low position with a long, wide push off throughout the remainder of their skating. As the athlete continues to skate faster, the push off angle should actually get wider and wider.

Brian Shackel, MSc