Synthetic Ice Skating Series: Part 3 – Stops

HockeyShot’s Skating Sensei, Jim Vitale from Vital Hockey Skills has been coaching for over 25 years. Once you’ve heard his voice, you know instantly that Jim has been around a few hockey arenas, yelling at players (maybe some parents) from time to time. Jim has run successful hockey camps for years to improve hockey player’s training and skills to develop them for the next level.

“Stopping is more of a state of mind then it is a physical activity”. Players who have trouble stopping, panic when they feel the ice pushing against them. This can send you into a panic with the brain not recognizing what is occurring, but you can learn to master the ice by learning how to stop properly. “Get low as you stop” is the most important first step because it allows you to gain control of the natural forces surrounding you. “Dropping your weight makes your blades sink into the ice, it’s the pressure you need to counter balance the force of the ice pushing against your feet”.

When Vitale is coaching youth how to properly stop, he gets them to stop and then to swivel to maintain proper balance. Pivoting is a great way to train your balance to know how to stop on the ice. The trick is to do both at the same time. Jim stresses the importance of not getting discouraged, because most will not be good at both ways.

Jeremy Rupke asks: “How much does Synthetic Ice relate to stopping on real ice?” and Vitale responded with “You can really come to a full stop with the same type of resistance.”

Look no further than HockeyShot’s Synthetic Ice! The use of premium grade materials in a unique blend makes this surface the closest thing to real ice in the world. It has a self-lubricating additive that requires no wax or upkeep to give players a genuine feel like they’re on the frozen stuff. Perfect for basements, garages, driveways or anywhere outdoors, this product is quick and easy to install with interlocking grids. AND depending on where you play (residential or commercial use) HockeyShot Synthetic Ice comes in a variety of formats.

Please visit: Synthetic Ice Revolution Tiles or Synthetic Ice Panels for all the details on HockeyShot’ industry leading training surfaces used in these videos!

Synthetic Ice Skating Series: Part 2 – Turns

In part 2 of the Synthetic Ice Skating Series, Jim and Jeremy go over turning and more importantly, sharp turns!

Jim is an advocate for extreme edges on a turn. There is a fine line between stopping completely or having the right power to accelerate into a turn. Digging your skate into the ice enough to make you strong on your feet while still accelerating on a turn is key. The speed at which a player turns always depends on the situation on the ice. Do you have a defender coming in hot? Are you in the corner with a defender at your back? Are you turning in the neutral zone? Do you suddenly have to turn for a back check? There are so many situations that as a player you need to simply practice these dynamic situations to understand how aggressive and intense you need to be making those turns.

The scientific challenge behind this is called “inertia”, which is a mass of resistance that challenges you to change directions. When you change in motion (a turn for instance) your body/mass begins to resist changing with that motion and wants to continue going straight. So when you turn your skates at a high speed there is a moment where your body or mass wants to continue going the way it was initially (straight). A good athlete can manage that inertia by avoiding your body wanting to go in a different direction other than where your brain wants to go. So how do we get rid of that momentum that wants to keep us from going straight?

First Jim shows us the vital tip to a good turn. Dropping your weight by bending your knees during a turn. This will help you accelerate during a turn and keep your balance at that high speed. You will not be able to control your turn by remaining stiff or standing straight up since your body will take that momentum and force to turn much more widely and slowly. Also, no matter where you turn (left or right) you’re going to want to put your force on the outside edge of your inside leg. So, if you’re turning left, you will put force on your inside leg (left leg) on your outside edge of that skate. If you keep your leg straight and not on the outside edge, your left leg will then want to continue straight rather than turn and that forces you to use much more strength or worse, blow a tire and allow the other team an odd man rush.

Next, Jim advises to “scissor out your outside leg” which means you want your outside leg wider rather than close to your turning/inside leg. By doing that, it helps with stability and speed in the turn itself. Widening your base of support (legs) is key to a fast and strong turn. Having your legs too close together in a turn makes you wobbly and unstable so avoid that as much as possible. Amongst the debate between where to put your weight during a turn (outside or inside leg), Jim unequivocally says the inside leg where your pressure should be almost on your heels on your inside leg so you don’t fall forward and just a little bit of pressure on the outside leg to keep you balanced.

Lastly, Jim says fall and fall again. If you’re careful, cautious and hesitant, these turns will never become natural. By falling and making mistakes, you can reflect on what and what does not work. So, for all your speedsters, take these turning tips and add them to your game!

Please visit: Synthetic Ice Revolution Tiles or Synthetic Ice Panels for all the details on HockeyShot’ industry leading training surfaces used in these videos!

Synthetic Ice Skating Series: Part 1 – Strides

Welcome to the Synthetic Ice Skating Series! HockeyShot’s Bench Boss, Jeremy Rupke is joined by Skating Sensei, Jim Vitale to create a multi-part series to help you stay on your feet and beat the competition to the puck. The entire series is filmed on HockeyShot’s industry leading, head turning, awe-inspiring Synthetic Ice.

While most of you already know “Mr. How to Hockey”, Jeremy Rupke some of you may be unfamiliar with the other man in these videos. Let us properly introduce you to a coach and hockey instructor for 20 plus years, Mr. Jim Vitale. He has put a tremendous amount of thought in the game and teaches players how to improve year after year.

Jim Vitale from Vital Hockey Skills has been coaching many teams throughout Toronto including in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Jim has run hockey camps for years to improve hockey players training and skills to develop them for the next level. Nothing more important than the skill of skating.

Vitale believes one of the most important skating drills is learning how to properly stride and maximizing the stride technique. Jeremy Rupke asks: “What do you think is the most important thing for beginner players?” Vitale responded with: “It is just a matter of realizing that to go forward you have to go side to side”. Many coaches are teaching their players to go back-to-front for their stride, but Vitale believes a stride should be more horizontal. “Like an airplane not a helicopter”. By using their stride back to front, it is minimizing the amount of time the blade contacts the ice, and that is going to get a player from getting down the ice as quick as possible.

The more efficient you are at transferring muscle from hip to the ankle the better the stride is going to be. “Starting your stride from the middle to the back of the blade, allows you to make your force better”. Proper stride posture is very key to being able to skate properly, and going somewhere in between 90 degrees and 180 degrees gives your leg the only option to push sideways to extend horizontal. As your extending your leg, finish your stride for maximum effect.

Please visit: Synthetic Ice Revolution Tiles or Synthetic Ice Panels for all the details on HockeyShot’ industry leading training surfaces used in these videos!

Skating & Mohawk Dangles – Skills Series

If you really want to up the challenge in your off-ice training, try rollerblade drills like Mohawk Dangles! With a sweet name like that, you’d be a fool not to watch this video. We worked on the footwork and technique last drill, but now let’s take it up a level by adding stickhandling drills. Before getting into the drill itself, many viewers had questions about the awesome Marsblade in-line skates. As Jeremy explains, unlike other chassis (frame that holds your wheels) that remain stiff and rigid, the Marsblade chassis moves with you giving you an extra challenge and strengthening the most important parts of a hockey player, your legs! It also gives the skater a more realistic feel with turns and strides while also forcing your legs to bend to get extra power. If you’re not bending your legs while protecting the puck, you won’t last very long!

The first drill Jeremy shows us is simply one fluent motion where your heels are still together and toes pointing outward. It may feel uncomfortable so get your footing and feel down before worrying about speed. Next Jeremy gets us to shift on both sides using “The Crosby Move” while continuously stickhandling. This will force you to think while moving, and is a great way to start practicing before using real defenders. If you really want to challenge yourself, try using one hand as if defenders are holding you up with their stick or arms. This may seem impractical but at high levels you’re always being tied up in the corners and whether it is legal or illegal, you have to keep moving! The third drill is another stickhandling while in motion strategy. Jeremy recommends doing this on both sides so you get the feel of your backhand and forehand while in motion. It also helps with mastering the toe drag. Here we see Jeremy using the HS Green Biscuit that is an ounce lighter than standard pucks. This puck is not meant for shooting, but is perfect for stickhandling and passing. If you want to work on your dangles even more, try saucing the puck over the stick while still maintain puck control; it’s not easy!

Next, Coach Rupke uses HockeyShot Dryland Tiles to avoid ruining his stick and moves in a circular motion while keeping the puck on the training surface. This helps improve stickhandling while still implementing “The Crosby Move” and maintaining that leg strength you need to protect the biscuit. If you don’t have a Shooting Pad, the HS Green Biscuit is perfect for the pave and other non-ice surfaces. Finally, Jeremy tries another add on to this drill be using another stick to this drill. These drills develop your stamina while stickhandling fluently while still remaining in motion at a high tempo. These are the skills you need to get the edge on your opponents!

Be sure to try out these drills on our Synthetic Ice.

The Crosby Skating Move – Skills Series

Welcome back to another Skills Session with Jeremy Rupke! Today, in Episode 3 – Jeremy is going through smart skating drills for off-ice training. Last week Jeremy went over shooting skills but this week Jeremy goes over the importance of skating and how lower stances while keeping your legs moving can help in tight situations.

Sponsored by Marsblade, Jeremy uses a pair of Marsblade in-line skate blades that are usable with your very own ice skates! His first drill is “The Crosby Move”. We call it the Crosby move because if anyone has seen him play, Sid the Kid always has a low center of gravity and uses his legs (not upper body) to stay well grounded where the defender cannot push him around so easily. In terms of height, Crosby is 5’9” which means compared to many of his defenders, he lacks size. So how does he remain so strong on his feet while still moving at game speed? For one, he trains relentlessly, but it is his footwork and low center of gravity that allows him to stay on his feet and avoid being manhandled by defenders.

It’s simple: the best forwards know how to protect the puck and simply put, no one protects the puck as well as #87. Puck protection is often overlooked compared to speed and skill, but if you want to see more pucks in the back of the net, you need to master the art of protecting it. This is not just done with your arms stickhandling; more importantly, you have to protect the puck by having a low stance, and using your strong legs to protect the puck in corners and the sideboards. The drill is versatile in that it can be with or without in-line skates as well as indoors or outdoors.

To begin, Jeremy gets us to make a fat diamond shape with our legs where our heels are together and toes are pointing outward (visualize @ 1:38). While you’re doing this, push your heels as far as you can outward, while bending your knees for some relief of the awkward stance. In order to move with this stance, the player must shift their weight on the glide leg, open up and plant your other leg while still in motion on the ground (visualize @ 2:44). It’s important to open up your shoulders and hips so your body does not lock or make an awkward motion. Often players will use this strategy while coming into a turn or going out of a turn at high speed since it can help with your puck control while the defender is chasing. This is a great move for forwards to move around the defender but be careful of not opening up in this turn while in a vulnerable position; It can make for a big hit on the forward if the defender has a step on them, so timing of this trick is key!

At 3:30, we can see Jeremy go from each side. This is important because having only one side to work on this makes for a predictable forward. We also see that this trick is not only good for coming into turns, but it can also open the forward up for a one timer or to get open quickly. Especially on the power play where there is more ice to work with, this is a great strategy for all you slick skaters out there!

It can be hard for a skater to remain in that position for any period of time but one add-on drill to “The Crosby Move” is to keep both of your feet planted on the ground while pumping your legs (not lifting them) to keep the position and your movement. Your legs should act like pistons pumping in back and forth motions. This can help with the strength of your legs as well as footwork you need for puck protection in game situations. Finally, Jeremy’s last portion of the drill shows how if you use this move while turning your back (this can be done almost anywhere on the ice, but the corners work best while fighting off defenders), it seals off the defender and allows you some time. This time helps you two-fold: you have time to see other players and make that perfect pass, and it tires the defenders. Once you get used to this simple trick, you’ll be spending more time playing keep away from the D, and racking up the points while doing it!

“The Crosby Move” is something most hockey fans have seen before, especially when watching The Kid play in tight situations, in corners, or generally fighting off bigger and stronger defenders. Getting used to this motion as a forward is key for success, especially if you’re a bit smaller!

Be sure to try out these drills on our Synthetic Ice.

What Is Synthetic Ice & What Are the Advantages

If you are a coach, avid hockey player or community center manager, you are fortunate enough to be investigating artificial ice when the product is better than it ever has been! Imagine the floor of your basement, garage, or a fitness room covered in a pure white material. It is made of interlocking panels which are made of a material called VHMW-PE (Very High Molecular Weight Polyethylene). Read and remember that well, there will be a quiz later!

kids shooting on synthetic ice

If you are looking for other options, our Dryland Flooring Tiles work quite well for hockey practice. You can drive on it, but you can’t skate on it. It is slick though, so you can simulate skating when you wear socks or special booties. There are other Synthetic Ice products on the market, but our customers, partners and pro athletes who have tried it tell us our product delivers greater value and a greater skating experience. If you want to become a better hockey player, HockeyShot has you covered.

Here’s how our Synthetic Ice conversations often go…

You: “Great. Pure white flooring tiles. I can just imagine all the scratches, stains and bumps in it. My storage barn isn’t exactly level either.”

HS: “Actually, our Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice is very resilient to skate blades, scuffs and scratches. It is self-lubricating, so you don’t have to wax the floor, or use liquid chemicals to condition it like some other artificial ice surfaces.”

You: “Is it even close to the smoothness and slipperiness of ice? Or will I feel like I’m skating through beach sand or oatmeal?”

HS: “Our Ice That Doesn’t Melt is made with the best (technical details alert) coefficient levels of friction on the market. The hardest part of skating on it is the takeoff, once in motion, it feels like the real thing! Our Synthetic Ice has been tested at 10-15% more friction than natural ice. The Ottawa Senators, one of only eight teams to make it to the second round of the 2017 NHL playoffs use it. EA Sports is a video game company. They use it for when they want to study how real hockey players play the game!

You: “You said the surface is made of interlocking panels. Won’t my skates, or my team’s’ skates rip open the tiles at the seams?”

HS: “Nope! Our Dovetail interlocking panels stay locked tight, far better than other artificial ice products on the market with spline or square edge connections. Once you get a few skate marks on the ice you can’t even tell where the seams are.”

You: “My daughter and I are hockey players, but my son and wife are into figure skating. Can they use it to practice their double loops and camel spins?”

HS: “Absolutely! Skaters of all levels can use the Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice. For beginners though, we recommend they wear a helmet and protective gear like elbow and shin pads. Our materials are between ⅜ and ¾ of an inch, but between the slipperiness of the surface and the hardness of the ground beneath it, safety precautions are recommended just like on natural ice. They can skate backwards, forwards, and make hard stops. We do recommend not using the picks on figure skates to maximize the longevity of your synthetic ice setup.”

passing on synthetic ice

You: “OK, so I imagine you can take a shot on Synthetic Ice, and make a pass. But is it possible to stickhandle? And if I put this outside, will it be damaged from the sun or weather?”

HS: “You can definitely stickhandle like you do on ice. You should check out our YouTube video. It will amaze you what you can do. Our Synthetic Ice is denser than other products on the market, and for the most part, all you have to do to maintain it is sweep/ vacuum it occasionally to keep sand and other materials off it. You could even use a pressure washer and it wouldn’t damage your panels. Plus, stay stress-free if you install your synthetic ice panels outside because our panel is UV protected.”

You: “How long will the artificial ice last? We have a lot of skaters in the family.”

HS: “Usually our product will last between seven and ten years, per side! That’s right, you can use both sides of the panels, and they are quite resilient over the long term. Depending on frequency of use, and the number of skaters that use it of course.”

You: “What if I have to trim some of the panels for installation? Do I need to hire a pro, or buy special tools for that? I’m not really good with ceramic tiles or hardwood flooring. Could I install this with my brother? He’s a little handier than I am, but not much.”

HS: “Yes, you can install our Synthetic Ice product quite easily. If you have a rubber mallet, a measuring tape and a skill saw, you can install HockeyShot Synthetic Ice easier and faster than you might think. We provide you with clear instructions, and our interlocking tabs makes it easy. If you check out the HockeyShot web page, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions, videos, pricing guide, and information about our Incentive Program promotion.”

You: “Sounds great! Thanks for all the information. I can’t wait to install Synthetic Ice in my storage barn. My family and friends will love it. Let’s get started.”

The Cost of Building a Synthetic Ice Rink

Do you want to set up a practice surface in your basement for hockey workouts year long, or are you tired of mowing your back lawn? A synthetic ice rink can be an excellent way to organize a great environment for skating practice or for keeping your hockey skills sharp when you can’t book ice time at your local rink.

You might be skeptical of buying and installing Synthetic Ice, but if you compare these alternatives, the price will seem a lot more affordable!

Consider the cost of:

  • Renting an ice surface
  • The time required to build, maintain and take apart a backyard rink in the winter
  • Playing roller hockey in an organized league
  • Not playing hockey at all, and playing golf (with players eliminated from the playoffs)
  • Getting an expensive gym membership and personal trainer
  • Sitting on a lawn chair all off-season, on the couch between games and practices, and being cut from competitive play

In all seriousness though, there are many options to purchase the materials you need to build a Synthetic Ice practice surface. There are variables, and associated costs for:

  • Total synthetic ice rink area, typical size ranges from 8’ x 20’ and 20’ x 40’
  • Synthetic Ice thickness between ⅜ of an inch and ¾ of an inch, depending on whether the rink is going to be set up in a residential or commercial setting
  • Whether you are looking for a Synthetic Ice rink you can use skates on, or Dryland Flooring Tiles which you would use with your sneakers and frictionless booties.

building a tile ice rink

With these different options, you can purchase the materials for a Synthetic Ice rink for prices starting at $1,230 (CAD) for an 8’ x 20’ surface which is ⅜ of an inch thick to $6,675 (CAD) for a ½ inch thick, 20’ x 40’ surface. The HockeyShot team wants to help as many of our customers as possible to elevate their game with Synthetic Ice. That is why we offer a Points Rewards Program ($1 off for every 20 points spent) to customers. While you can’t use the points to get the Synthetic Ice cheaper, you can use the points to get free products from HockeyShot to enhance the value for your Synthetic Ice investment and training experience.

Since our Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice lasts on average 15-20 years, we know you will need lots of training products to keep active!

Dryland Flooring Tiles – Allstar ★ Edition

If Synthetic Ice surfaces are out of your budget range, or if you are interested in an indoor/ outdoor surface which can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled with ease – you should check out: HockeyShot’s Dryland Flooring Tiles. Not everyone can monopolize their basement for hockey practice, or skating practice for Elvis Stojko wannabes. Dryland Flooring Tiles range in price between $940 CAD for a 8’ x 20’ and $4,420 CAD for a 20’ x 40’ space.

If you are looking to lay down tiles in your garage where you park your car, or in a basement where people will be walking on it, these Dryland Flooring Tiles are extremely durable and highly resistant. No need to pay for a garage extension, and these tiles are easy to clip together and maintain inside or outside (weather resistant and UV protected).

Is Synthetic Ice Worth the Price?

Jeremy Rupke from How To Hockey & The Hockey Movement says Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice is “awesome” for stickhandling, shooting and passing and great for skating on. You can use both sides of HockeyShot’s Synthetic Ice, it’s self-lubricating, and lasts between six and ten years, depending on frequency and severity of use. Competing products are often inferior and require special lubrication liquid, the material shreds with use, and dulls skate blades faster.

in home synthetic ice rink

Coaches, community centers and other commercial organizations can purchase the thicker grade synthetic ice for heavier use. Spreading the cost to more people can help to purchase larger surfaces with thicker density, especially where arenas have abundant amounts of floor area.

Ready for an off-ice hockey workout that is as close to on-ice as you can get without the cold temperatures? Check out our website or contact us for a custom quote.

You won’t regret purchasing The Ice That Doesn’t Melt!

Off-Ice Skating Drills with Marsblade Roller Frames

For true hockey enthusiasts, nothing would be more satisfying on a hot summer day than step into a frigid ice rink, and run skating drills for a few hours. Unless they found out about MarsBlade roller blade frames.

Imagine – the smooth glide of a frozen ice surface, with the warmth of a spring or summer day. You could just skate up and down the beach, or through the park. Or you could improve your skating stride, and condition yourself for the upcoming hockey season. Or skate circles around competitors at the next roller hockey tournament.

The MarsBlade might look fairly normal to the untrained eye, think of a the smoothness of a rocking horse on a floor. The “flow motion technology” which is unique to the MarsBlade provides a smoother rolling experience. It’s as close as you can get to the experience of skating on ice, without the ice. Or ice skates.

Step one, order MarsBlades, wait for them to ship, and install them. Or… use your regular roller blades, you just won’t have the “ice skate feel” that Marsblade simulates.

If you haven’t shut down your computer and headed out to the park, here are a series of dry land skating drills you can try to build your skating skills.

Drill One – Two-Legged Leg Chains

I made up that name myself, but if you picture yourself on a flat surface, gliding forward, while rhythmically pushing outward, and then pulling inwards with the insides of your shiny new MarsBlades. You’ve probably done this manoeuver yourself on the ice, making a chain of O’s on the ice.

Start with a hockey stance, push out on your blades, then pull them in. If you’ve been doing your Van Damme truck exercises, this drill might be a little painful the first few times. Your weight should be balanced over your skates.

Drill Two – Slalom Turns

This is another two legged drill. If you’re a skier, and enjoy the moguls, or have seen the Super-G competition in the Olympics, you’ll pick up this drill fast. Once you build up some momentum, do quick turns left and right, alternating between carving turns on the inside, then the outside of your blades.

It’s a good idea to hold a hockey stick for balance, and point the stick, and pivot your weight, opposite where your feet are pointed in your turn. Your legs and body should be consistently pointing in alternate directions, and maintain your power and speed.

Drill Three – Shuffle Strides

This is the last of our MarsBlades two legged drills. Take a rolling start, with your legs spread just over shoulder width apart. Bend over slightly, into a hockey stance, but even wider. Imagine you are preparing to fake out a defenceman and deke him out to head for the goal.

Instead of taking long strides with your legs, start turning in, then out with your ankles, to make shallow, alternating turns and shifting your weight over your feet. Keep a straight line, but imagine you’re painting Charlie Brown stripes with your inside skate edges.

Drill Four – One Legged Slalom Turns

If you enjoyed drill two, imagine doing the same, but raising your inside leg for every turn. You will make longer, sweeping turns each way, building agility and strength as you carve in the direction of the inside of your outside blade. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Drill Five – One Legged Bouncing Circles

For this drill, you might want to wear some earbuds, in part for some rhythm, and just in case anyone is laughing. You will need a wide path for this drill, and make sure you don’t run over any Boy Scouts escorting little old ladies across the street.

This drill is a lot like drill four, but instead of doing quarter turns back and forth, you are going to turn in full circles around and into the next circle. You will be on one leg remember, and as you complete your circle, you’ll want to drop your weight down, then pop up, again. Repeatedly.

Some of the songs you might want to listen to while doing this drill include:

It would be a little strange if you had all of these songs on your iPod, but if you do, you’ll enjoy this drill.

Drill Six – One Legged Jump and Glide

For this drill, you will be carving back and forth just like you did with Drill Four, but as you alternate between turns, do a jump into your next turn.

This turn will help you build your stride confidence, recovery abilities for when people are diving at you, trying to take you off your skates.

If you complete a cycle of these drills, and aren’t really excited about your new MarsBlades, you probably aren’t doing it right. Or, you just need a new music mix.

Practice these turning drills often, enjoy the smooth, ice-like glide of your MarsBlades, and see how much your skating abilities have improved next season!

Marsblade Inline Skate Blades

Marsblade is a revolutionary kit for converting your ice hockey skates into dryland training skates!

More info about the Marsblades

Skating Stride in Depth Analysis

It doesn’t matter whether you play defense, or are on the forward line, you want to have a strong forward stride to outpace your opponents.

Save the Running Man for the Dance Floor

Regardless of your skating style, you want your skate blades to have good contact with the ice surface, so you don’t look like you are jogging down the ice. Your toes should be pointed in the direction you are headed at the start of each stride. When you draw your leg back to push off with your first stride, you want your skate to make an arc like a reversed letter “C”.

When you do push off on your stride, your rear foot should be in a 90 degree angle to your leading foot, so which will give you a short gliding motion forward. Your first push will give you a straight leg at the end of your pushing motion, the second push will have a slight sideward push and increase as you gain momentum.
Your first few strides should be shorter as you build power and speed in your pushing leg, and then you extend your stride longer as you build momentum and speed. This is called “The Evolution of the Stride”.

Gearing Up Your Stride

In your first few pushes and striding motion, you want to have a lot of torque and power to build momentum, just like in first and second gear in a car, or when you ride a bike. As you gain speed, you want more blade contact with the ice, and more sideward motion. That way, maintain your power and speed.

Swing Your Arms for More Power

If you’ve ever watched Olympic speed skaters, you will definitely have noticed their swinging arm movements as they glide up the ice. If you are streaking toward the opposing end after the puck to grab a breakaway opportunity, or in hot pursuit after an opposing forward, you want to use your whole body for momentum.

When you stride forward with either leg, that is the direction you want to swing your arm. Be sure not to knock your own stick out of your grasp when you swing your arm over it to help out your stick-side leg.

When you glide forward with the other leg, use a pendulum movement with the other arm as if you were pushing off a wall. If you catch an opposing defenseman with your arm swing, they shouldn’t have been “on your six” so close to begin with.

To Recap:

  1. Start with a crescent curve to plant your skate the first time for a powerful straight-legged push.
  2. Your first opposing leg stride will be fairly short as you evolve your stride, the next few will grow longer. Gear up from first to high gear.
  3. Once you are three or four strides in, use the arm not holding the stick to swing towards (or past) your striding leg. Think like a speed skater. As you make your third and future strides, transition from striding straight forward to having a sideways push to your stride. This maintains forward momentum in high gear.

Practice skating straight down the open ice as many chances as you can get. Watch out for speeding pucks, small children and Doug Gilmour-sized players that you might knock over when you have a full head of steam. You can work on your crossover skating techniques another time.

Ready? Set, GO!

Hockey Skills – Tight Turn Tips for Hockey Players

For novice and even experienced hockey players, the ability to maintain speed through turns, and changing directions without slowing down is a challenging skill to master. Many players feel challenged by executing the turn or direction change they feel like they are going to fall in towards the direction they are turning.

“Well, why do they feel like they are going to fall?” says the hockey player, currently reading an interesting blog about hockey skills on their computer. The answer to that is when you are skating hard and turning, you often lean in towards the direction you are turning, to execute a fast turn in close quarters. If you catch a rut in the ice, or take a hit from the side, you might end up lying down on the ice.

If you picture a fast skater, say Scott Niedermeyer, you will see him lean in on his skates, so the outside edge of their inside blade is pointing the direction he is turning. Scott likely really has great balance too, however not all of us are gifted in this way. He would able to lean in with his inside shoulder, or compensate like we’ll discuss below.

A few examples of this kind of fast, tight turn or direction change are:

  • Rushing in to an opponent’s end and they shoot the puck out – you don’t want to be called offside
  • Your team steals the puck, and you want to be there for your team mates – maybe to score a goal
  • The game just ended, you won, and you heard they are giving away hamburgers at the snack bar. A game of hockey builds up mad hunger!

To prevent falling, the best skill to practice might make you feel a bit like a boomerang. Try to maintain speed by:

  1. Shifting your upper body weight away from the turn with an incline in your spine away from where you are turning in to.
  2. Keep your lower body pointing into the turn, with a good carve into the ice surface to bring you around. This will increase your base of support through the turn, as your weight will be centered over your skates.
  3. Try and maintain as much of your balance as possible by keeping your shoulders as level as possible. You can use your stick to hold yourself steady, and you’ll make some cool moves.

So there you have it. Tight turns and quick directional changes at high speeds need level shoulders, upper body tilted away from the turn, lower body tilted into the turn, weight distributed easily over your skates, and a great deal of figure eight practice around some pylons. Check out the video by Matt from WinnPro Hockey a few times to get some great visuals on fast, tight turns and direction changes like the pros do it.