6 Steps for Teaching Skating Techniques
Skating is an extremely complicated activity and hockey is an extremely complicated sport. Skating moves are not natural to the human body—in fact they’re the opposite of natural. Skating moves are numerous, intricate and interdependent. Each hockey maneuver consists of many parts. Each part must be learned separately and then integrated into the whole move. Proper technique training is essential for players to become fast, powerful, quick and efficient skaters.
The teaching/learning process is a long one. The most effective teaching method is one that has a systematic and integrative approach. I believe in the pyramid method: a strong foundation must be built at the bottom of the pyramid. Then work up from there to integrate and refine each part into its whole. No one can learn a new skill or skating maneuver “going fast.” It’s too much for the brain and body to accommodate. Here’s my approach to teaching skating techniques:
4. Correctly-powerfully-quickly with the puck.
5. Same as 4, now under lots of pressure and in game situations.
6. At the end of each practice, players should be allowed to skate fast and have fun without worrying about correct technique.
*Note: It is imperative to learn “correctly” before worrying about powerfully and quickly—no matter how long it takes. And, when performing “powerfully” and “quickly,” “correctly” is still of No. 1 importance. That’s what makes explosive, efficient skating so difficult.
Skill (technique) training programs for very young hockey players (and for beginning players of all ages) should include basic and simple skating fundamentals done at a comfortable level, with a concentration on understanding, smoothness and efficiency.
Skating technique needs to be combined with power and quickness at fairly young ages. From ages 11 and up, hockey players should engage in training that includes some interval training (work/rest training). Whether the workouts are for sprinting, strength training, agility, skating or for athletic attributes such as balance, rhythm and coordination, they should include some interval training.
Work periods (sprint periods) for young players, including for adolescents, should be short (maximum 10 to 15 seconds in order to avoid the accumulation of lactic acid. In addition, there must be enough rest time between each work (sprint) period for them to recover fully. Many coaches are unaware of this so they push their players into over-stressful workouts that negatively affect skating technique and over-all performance.
While still learning skating techniques, most quickness training can be done off the ice so as not to interfere with skill development. Developing players cannot learn, perform properly or perform effectively when they’re fatigued. The quality of performance deteriorates quickly when fatigue sets in.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Laura Stamm of Laura Stamm Power Skating for this story. Laura offers special thanks to her friend and colleague, Dr. Jack Blatherwick, PhD., Physiologist, Washington Capitals Hockey Team for his thoughts, insights and knowledge that contributed to this story.
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