Making Stridz Athlete Development Logo

With the off season training program starting up for most of the players, I thought I would provide everyone with some reading material and information regarding the transferability of off ice sprint work to on ice skating. When breaking down the first two steps of an elite level sprinter and comparing this to an elite level hockey player, you will notice that there are a lot of similarities between the two skills. Check out the video below to see a side by side comparison of the two skills.

This comparison suggests that there is a high degree of transferability between the two skills. When looking at the 1st two steps of a hockey skating stride, the key variable which remains the same as sprinting is that the athlete is pushing off on a fixed point of contact (or there is very little to no glide present). As a result of this fixed point of contact, the athlete will want to emphasize a "sprinter like" mentality of driving off in the backwards direction and pushing directly into the ice. If you watch the video closely, you will notice that both athletes have a high degree of knee flexion in their support leg with the knee well out in front of the toe. This allows for the athlete to position their center of gravity directly over top of their support skate and therefore allow for a quicker stride rate (this is where the term "quick feet" initially came from). Both athletes will emphasize a strong arm drive and complete hip and knee extension (or triple extension) during the push off. This is important as it helps to produce more power during the force producing phase of the skill. The emphasis should be on the pushing leg driving into the ice, rather than the recovery leg being placed in front of the body. If the athlete tries to over reach (or overstride) then they will begin to experience a delay in their upcoming push off and therefore a slower rate of acceleration.

After the initial two steps, the hockey player will no longer have a fixed point of contact but rather a glide which will require a more lateral push off and therefore a transition in their skating stride. As the push off becomes more lateral, you should notice a slight change in the athletes arm swing as it will modify slightly in order to counterbalance the motion occurring at the lower body. This change will primarily result in the arms coming slightly across the front of the body in order to increase the ground reaction forces being applied to the ice. As the athlete continues to accelerate and gets closer to full velocity, the push off should become wider and as a result so will the arm swing. Note that there is a transitional phase where the athlete builds up the length of the skating stride as well as the width with each successive push off.

I have attached a couple of articles discussing the correlation of sprint work and other off ice testing to on ice skating.


Brian Shackel, MSc