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.