The Importance Of Skating Drills
Killer speed is an ideal that is certainly accurate and crucial in hockey, but it goes far past having a greater top acceleration. In fact, the ability to change directions and move quickly into open ice is just as important. In order to take your game to its highest possible competitive level, you have to master the most fundamental aspect of the game, skating.
As a young player, becoming a more deadly and confident skater should be the central focus of your game. Although stickhandling, shooting, and passing are equally as key in building a complete hockey player, you can’t do any of them effectively without the ability to skate. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t learn how to park a car before figuring out how to turn it on, right? You wouldn’t book a concert without knowing how to play the guitar first either! So, learning how to be a confident and competent skater should be at the top of any athlete’s to-do list.
CoachUp has put together a small set of useful drills for any aspiring skater. This should help give you a taste of your potential as a skater -- the sharp stops, fast changes, and backwards skating aren’t luxuries in hockey, they’re a necessary skill. These drills might feel bulky and uncomfortable at the start, especially for an athlete who has just learned basic skating. But the sooner you excel at these, the sooner you’ll see other expansive results on the ice.
Simple and sweet, line up at the goal and skate to the blue line and back. Focus on a sharp, quick, and full stop at the blue line, using your power and force to push off back towards the goal.
Skate from the goal line to the blue line, stop and carioca from the left side to the right, once you reach the boards, skate backwards to the goal line. Then, switch sides and do it again. This drill will focus on stopping, sprinting, and skating backwards but with the added benefit of a really tough, intense workout.
After a few times around, those cariocas will get difficult and heavy, but keep going through the burn! Learning how to step over without losing balance is hard, but a worthwhile ability to learn. Additionally, practicing good form through fatigue is the best way to prepare for crucial minutes at the end of a game.
Start in one corner and hit all five circles on the ice by wrapping around them. The idea here is speed and control! Make accurate, smooth strides while going around the circles. You can just go around the outside like the below video depicts, or you could do full circles before moving onto the next one. Additionally, you can do this drill forwards or backwards, with or without a puck.
Start on the goal line and sprint towards the blue line, stop and skate backwards as quickly as possible towards a face-off circle, stop again and accelerate past center ice. Repeat this until you can no longer stand! This drill is key for defenders that must quickly change directions as their offense turns to defense.
Set up three cones in a triangle and work on sharp turns, using your low balance and full strides to explode around each obstacle. Try placing the cones at difference distances, but sharpening your abilities at any length will be beneficial in the long run.
(Related: Read about skating for beginners here.)
Huddle Up Again, mastering the ability to skate is never fully complete -- even players at the highest levels must constantly evolve and make sure they’re prepared for anything the game throws at them. Although it may be hard to find consistent ice time, these drills can be done anywhere with minimal set-up or effort. In addition to your own practice, booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers might help you iron out any particular struggles you have while skating. CoachUp usually offers group sessions to make ice time more affordable. So, grab some friends, these tips, a private coach, and get to it!