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DEVELOPING BETTER ATHLETES ONE STRIDE AT A TIME

Yesterday I sent out a tweet regarding the improper naming of cross overs in hockey and how this improper naming might have a correlation to the poor technique which has been noted in many developing hockey players. I thought it might be a good idea to elaborate on this by showing a couple of different examples and further explaining my rationale for the tweet.

In order to properly generate power during a cross over, the athlete must drive the pushing skate into the ice by going through a complete range of motion (into full extension) over a very short period of time (as fast as they can extend). What this motion will do is provide a higher angular acceleration of the hip, knee and ankle joints and therefore increase the force which can be applied to the ice. When coaches and parents focus more on the cross over component, players tend to focus in too much on getting the skate all the way over and forget that they need to push with the other skate. If the athlete goes into complete hip, knee and ankle extension on the push off skate, there is a very good probability that they will have a large cross over component as well.

If you look at the images shown below, you will notice that the image on the left shows an athlete going into limited hip, knee and ankle extension. This is shown by the large knee flexion (or bend) still remaining in the cross under leg. However, the athlete on the right has gone into more complete hip, knee and ankle extension (minimal bend remaining) and this has produced a larger cross over and more power created during the push.

CrossUnderComparison.jpg

The term triple extension is often used by sprinters when they are working on going into complete extension during the push off motion in running. This is not unlike the motion we are looking for in hockey. If we can achieve triple extension during our cross unders (complete extension of the hip, knee and ankle) we will be able to generate more power in our pushes and therefore generate more speed. This same rule of thumb applies in the forwards skating stride. In order to maximize our speed and efficiency on the ice, we need to focus on going into triple extension. Once again, this would include complete extension of the hip, followed by the knee and followed by the ankle (often referred to as the toe flick).

Brian Shackel, MSc