turn-feature-image

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!

Published by

Jim Vitale

Jim Vitale has been skating his entire life (literally dreaming of edgework drills after his parents tucked him in at night). With an impressive hockey career as both a player and coach, it was a no brainer for HockeyShot to bring him on board. We are proud to have Jim lace ‘em up time and time again. As a player, Jim played in the minor leagues with the AAA Vaughan Kings of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He then moved on to play Tier 2 Junior A for both the Markham Waxers and the Vaughan Vipers. He finished his playing career with the Queens Golden Gaels but his skates barely had a chance to hang as he took on a new role as a coach. Since 1999, Jim has been coaching teams of all levels, minors to nationals. His training highlights include: assistant coach to both Vaughan Vipers and York University Yeomen, head coach to the Provincial Deaf Hockey Team, Head Coach to the National Men’s Deaf Olympic Team, and 17 years of head coaching in the minor hockey leagues. After extensive on and off-ice training with his Ukrainian National under 14 team, Jim began to place an increasing importance on the skill of skating. He quickly realized that skating itself could not only, drastically change individual players, but the entire game of hockey. This inspired him to begin Vital Hockey Skills, a cutting-edge school for player development. Jim provides growing athletes a safe and fun environment to develop essential and critical skills that inherently change their hockey abilities. During all these years of playing and coaching hockey, Jim pursued and completed an honors degree in kinesiology. Applying this education, Jim has been able to break down hockey into fundamental skills that depend on specific biomechanical development. He is proud to support the science behind hockey and with his training, HockeyShot is excited to show you how your game will change for the better! Jim’s training, places an emphasis on weight transfer, stabilizers, and extreme edges. All of this combined creates a strong and vigilant skater allowing players to make moves they did not think were possible. His enthusiasm, quick-witted-one-liners (usually directed at Jeremy Rupke during skating camps) and brute strength make Jim a force to reckoned with. Bringing you back to the fundamentals of skating, don’t underestimate this one-of-a-kind, “been-around-the-hockey-block” Skating Coach, Jim Vitale.