Making Stridz Athlete Development Logo

The two words that get used on a daily basis with hockey coaches, players and skating instructors are Power and Explosiveness. Its great in theory to use these terms and tell our athletes that they need to skate with more power and more explosiveness, but what exactly does this mean?

When we talk about being powerful in sports, there are very few athletes and sports skills where power production is not a concern. Every time we throw or hit an object we teach our athletes to shift their weight in order to generate more "power". This same philosophy should be applied when we teach our athletes to skate. Part of what makes a great skater fast is the ability to transfer their weight from one foot to the other as they stride. Prior to the push, the athlete must load up their push off leg (get into a deep knee bend with their upper body positioned directly over top of the push off skate) and then extend their hip, knee and ankle through a large range of motion in as short of time as they can. This will create the explosive component of a great skater. As they go through this "explosive" push off, they will then transfer their weight over to the opposite leg and the cycle will begin again. The athlete must get their weight directly over top of their push off foot and load up the leg prior to starting the next push off. Athletes which are able to repeat this process over and over again with minimal time spent gliding will have great acceleration as well as top end speed. Next time you watch a game on TV, watch for a player who is chasing down a puck at full speed and watch for the lateral movement in their upper body as the weight is shifted from side to side (similar to how the push off is directed laterally).

Being an explosive and powerful skater requires a high degree of strength which must be emphasized with the athletes in their off season training programs or in the other sports they might be playing. The best combination for elite speed in hockey is to have long, powerful strides but also to keep the stride rate high in order to continually apply force into the ice!

Brian Shackel, MSc