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Developing a powerful and efficient skating stride involves a lot of components including edges, balance, power, strength, technique, etc. but we find that improving a players edges can make a huge difference in improving their stride. The key to doing effective edge work drills is to keep it interesting and challenging for the players skill level.

At a younger age, we try to focus on maintaining and building speed while doing our edge work. If you watch players doing basic inside and outside edge drills (ie. half circle on the right inside edge, half circle on the left inside edge and repeat) it is common to see them get straight legged early on in the edge and standing up as they go to transition to their other leg. As a result, they do not have any extension left and can't generate any power with their push off leg. We try and get our athletes to stay low all the way through the edge and then go into complete extension as if they are pushing off for a normal skating stride. We often tell our athletes to think "load" and then "explode". This type of edge work can help with stride lengthening, power and balance as it forces players into a low skating position. With this minor change in technique, the player will be skating faster as they perform the drill and as a result be more challenged by the drill itself. From there we begin to add transitions such as forwards inside edge to backwards inside edge on the same foot, we begin incorporating inside edges on one foot and eagle turns on the other side and then we attempt the same edge work sequence with a puck with the goal of maintaining the same speed.

With our older players, we tend to focus more on small area edge work which forces players to stay low throughout the drill but at the same time try and maintain and build their speed within the small area. We allow our players to be as creative as possible with this type of drill. A simple set up is to put a few pylons, an extra net and some broken sticks inside a circle and instruct them to work on tight turns, eagle turns and inside and outside edges within the circle. If a player can build and maintain speed in a small space like this it will open up a lot of time and space on the ice for that player. With this type of drill, we are constantly telling our players to "push whenever they are in a position to push". Too many players will get into a small area and bend their knees but not go into an extended position as seen in the normal skating stride. The length and the force generated during the push is what separates good players from great players.

If you have any questions or thoughts on edge work please feel free to contact us.

Brian Shackel, MSc