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Games, drills improve skating skills




by American Sport Education Program (ASEP)


Hockey games demand too much concentration for players to be thinking about how to skate; therefore, skating is the most important skill to practice. Regular practice is the key to improving skating ability.

Three Phases of Skating

Skating involves three phases: drive, glide, and recovery.

Drive. In the drive phase, players generate power through a skating thrust to the side. The back leg extends fully, followed by a final push off the toe of the skate (see figure 8.9a).

Glide. In the glide phase, athletes maintain the body over the glide foot to maximize each stride length. Shoulders line up over the knee, which lines up over the toes (see figure 8.9b).

Recovery. In the recovery stage, players quickly bring the extended foot back under the body midline, which ensures that the hips are over the skates with each extension (see figure 8.9c).

Generation of power is called the Z: All three joints are flexed, with knees over toes, chest over knees, and head up (see figure 8.10).

Ready Position

The ready position is the building block for all skating. Just as a strong base gives a pyramid strength, the ready position provides a sturdy base for hockey players.

Players take the ready position with skates parallel and their feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead. Players bend the knees until they are in line with the skates’ toes, lean the body slightly forward with the head up, and place one or two hands on the stick. The stick blade touches the rink surface.

Forward Striding

Players develop power with fast, short strides, then use longer and less frequent strides as speed increases. The stride starts with feet shoulder-width apart and all weight on the push foot. A player turns the push foot 35 to 40 degrees and pushes to the side and down, pressing the skate wheels or blade firmly against the rink surface. As he forces the push foot out to the side, the player pushes the knee of the other leg forward, extending the push skate leg as far as possible, through the ankle to the tip of the toe. After finishing the stride, the player transfers weight to the forward foot (glide leg) and lifts the push foot slightly over the rink surface. The player bends the knee of the back leg and pulls it forward, close to the gliding foot, keeping it close to the rink surface and placing it back in its starting position to complete the recovery phase. The player then starts the next stride with the opposite foot.

Starting Forward Striding.

Teach your players two basic starts to begin a forward stride quickly and easily: the V-start and the crossover start.

For the V-start, the player starts in ready position, then turns the heels in and toes out, making a V with the skates as he leans slightly forward, putting weight on the front part of the foot. (See figure 8.11.) He starts to drive with either the right or left skate and alternates legs with each stride. The player makes the first stride with each foot a short, driving stride, as if running. He makes the next two strides slightly longer and reduces the angle between the rink surface and the wheels or blades. The player’s third or fourth stride should have a wheel or blade angle of 35 to 40 degrees, and he should keep his skates near the rink surface for a quick recovery phase. The player gradually straightens up as speed increases.

For the crossover start, the player starts in ready position, then turns the head and places the stick in the direction of intended travel. He then takes the outside foot and steps over the inside foot, staying low and not hopping. When the outside foot contacts the rink surface, the player must keep it on the inside edge, using it as the driving foot in the push phase. The player takes the original inside skate and places it on the rink surface near the driving skate, forming a T with the skates. Finally, the player drives with the inside edge and continues the stride.




Skating Games

Cops and Robbers

Goal: To develop skating quickness and agility the full length of the ice.

Description: All players are involved in this game, which uses the full length of the ice. The area behind the goal lines is designated as the safety zone. (See figure 8.12.)

Select two to four players as "cops" (CP), depending on the number of total participants. Those who are cops may not enter the safety zone. They start each round (one time down the ice) between the blue lines. Their job is to tag the "robbers" (R).

Robbers skate from goal line to goal line, attempting to avoid being touched. Those who are tagged must skate around the neutral zone with their hands in the air to signal that they have been tagged. A tagged robber can become a robber again by being tagged by a robber while his hands are in the air. Otherwise, those robbers that are tagged become cops the next round and attempt to tag the robbers.

The game ends when all robbers but one have been tagged and are now cops.

To make the game easier:

: Reduce the number of participants.

: Reduce the number of cops.

To make the game harder:

: Assign coaches as cops.

: Decrease the size of the safety zone.

: Reduce the size of the playing area to half-ice.

Freeze Tag

Goal: To develop forward skating stride and agility.

Description: All players are involved in this game, which is played between the goal line and the blue line. Mark off with cones a 10-foot-by-10-foot area behind the goal line, which is the safety zone. (See figure 8.13.)

Select two to four players as "it" (I), depending on the number of total participants. Those who are it may not enter the safety zone. Their job is to attempt to tag everyone who is not it. Those who are tagged must freeze in their spots and not move until a teammate touches them. The game ends when all skaters are frozen.

To make the game easier:

: Reduce the number of participants.

: Enlarge the safety zone.

: Reduce the number of its.

To make the game harder:

: Assign coaches as its.

: Decrease the size of the safety zone.

: Allow a player to be unfrozen only if a teammate slides on the ice between the frozen player’s legs.



Be Ready!

Goal: To develop a consistent skating ready position during a gamelike situation.

Description: Place four nets inside the offensive zone in a diamond pattern. (See figure 8.14.) All players (a maximum of 14) are involved in this game, which simulates clutter. Tell the players to scatter themselves in the offensive zone. You stand in the corner along the goal line of the offensive zone.

The object of the game is to maintain a consistent ready position in skating. When you blow your whistle, players skate in any direction in ready position (stick on the rink) with their eyes on you (the coach). You randomly pass the puck/ball indirectly into the group of players. The player who receives the puck/ball should immediately shoot on net. Award one point for successfully receiving a pass, one point for getting a shot on goal, and one point for a goal. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

To make the game easier:

: Reduce the number of players.

To make the game harder:

: Place a second coach in the other corner of the offensive zone. This coach also randomly passes a puck/ball into the group of players.

: Pass pucks/balls into the group of players more frequently.

: Turn this into a 3 v 3 game by allowing the players to play until someone scores.

: Use colored pucks/balls and require players to shoot a particular type of shot based on the color of the puck/ball.




One-Foot Faceoff

Goal: To develop fundamental skating motion (drive, glide, and recovery) in a gamelike situation.

Description: This is a 3 v 3 cross-rink game. Position a net 15 feet from each sideboard. (See figure 8.15.)

The object of the game is to develop players’ skating stride by emphasizing the motion of one leg. Start the game by passing the puck/ball into the zone. A player enters the zone by pushing off with the left leg. A player can only push off with the left leg; the right leg must stay on the rink and cannot be used to push off. Award a team two points for skating past their opponents while puckhandling or ballhandling and one point for a goal. Play for 60 seconds, then begin a new game by blowing the whistle to end the previous game and passing the puck/ball in to start the new game. Tell players to push off with the right leg in the second game.

To make the game easier:

: Reduce the number of players.

To make the game harder:

: Create an odd-player situation such as 2 v 3, 3 v 4, or 4 v 5.

Get Up and Go

Goal: To develop speed and power in crossovers in a gamelike situation.

Description: This is a 1 v 1 game. The game begins from the goal line at one end. Place a second goal on the center red line, and send a goaltender to the goal at center rink. (See figure 8.16.)

The object of the game is for players to get up to their feet from the rink and skate as quickly as possible to reach the puck/ball. Have the players lie on their bellies, one at each post of the net facing the far end. Then send a puck/ball up the middle of the rink so that the players can chase it down. Players must get up and skate around the nearest faceoff circle once before pursuing the puck/ball. Players play 1 v 1 until one player scores on the net or the goalie holds the puck/ball. Getting to the puck/ball first is worth two points and a goal is worth one point.

To make the game easier:

: Allow players to stand instead of lying on the rink.

To make the game harder:

: Have the players lie on the rink facing the boards and/or with their backs on the rink.

: Play 2 v 2 or 3 v 3.

: Add a defensive player at the far goal to create a 1 v 2 situation for the puck/ball carrier.

: Add an offensive player at the far goal to create a 2 v 1 situation for the puck/ball carrier.

This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Hockey, 2nd Edition.




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