There are many skills involved in being a good hockey player. You need to know how to shoot the puck, pass the puck, maintain your balance, lay hits, and more. However, one of the most important skills to possess is the ability to skate fast.
Whether watching hockey or playing it, it is clear to see that players with speed often have a distinct advantage both on the offensive and defensive sides of the puck. They can catch up to opponents with ease, blow by defenders, and beat the opposition to the open puck.
Unfortunately, not every player is instantly a speedy skater. Thankfully, this is a skill that can be built over time with enough work and the right tactics. This guide is going to go over a couple of tips and things you can do to skate faster in hockey.
1. Build Your Power and Strength
Perhaps the easiest way to improve your skating speed is to build up your power and strength. While your entire body comes into play when skating, you especially want to focus on making your legs stronger. The harder your skates can push off the ice, the faster you will go.
In particular, you should focus on your quads and hamstrings, and ensure they are strong. Also, pure strength workouts are great, but you should consider adding things like explosiveness drills, cardio, and flexibility exercises in your routine, as well.
There are several different exercises you can do to build your power and strength. This includes sprints, jumps, squats, sled drags, hamstring curls, and many other drills that can be done at the gym or home.
2. Practice, Practice and More Practice
In addition to building up your lower body strength and flexibility, you also need to work on your technique. The best way to do this is to practice your skating. The more you practice, the better you will eventually be at skating.
Practice every chance you get, and try to evaluate your growth, and work hard on the areas you need to improve. Be sure to practice in your gear, as well. Skating in light clothing is often easier and won’t give you the same experience as skating in all of your pads and equipment.
Also, practice in-game situations, too. Skating back and forth in a straight line is better than nothing, but you need to build agility, in addition to speed. Practice turning quickly, skating backwards fast, picking up speed after a stop, and several others.
You can practice alone, practice with your friends or even with your team. There are also skating coaches out there that can help you with lessons to improve your technique and get rid of any potential bad habits you have developed.
3. Focus on Your Strides, Not Feet
When many think of skating fast, they think of moving their feet and skates in a quicker motion. However, that isn’t true. How fast you go is directly tied to how hard you push off the ground and the stride you take.
In general, a longer stride with more force behind it will lead to more speed on the ice. If you cannot lengthen your stride straight back, a good way to maintain your speed and power is by widening your stride.
While quick feet can help you around the net and such, if you are looking to become a faster straight-line skater to beat defenders and opponents to the puck, you need to focus on longer strides with good technique.
This is very similar to running. Long and powerful strides will always generate more power (and thus, speed), than if you barely tap or touch your feet on the ground. It is simply a more efficient way of moving, whether on the ground or the ice.
4. Get the Right Gear
The equipment and gear you wear on the ice can also have a major impact on skating speed. For example, speed skaters wear little except for a helmet, gloves, knee pads, and a spandex suit. This lack of equipment allows for great aerodynamics and ensures nothing restricts speed.
Of course, you cannot simply wear this as a hockey player. However, by choosing the right gear you can definitely find ways to improve your speed. First of all, you want to choose light gear, while still offering decent protection.
In addition to weight, a lot of hockey equipment is bulky and rigid, and doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility and range of motion. Be sure to try things on and make sure they still allow you to skate your best.
The fit of your equipment is also crucial to skate as fast and efficiently as you need. Your pants need to stretch enough and not be too long, and things like your shoulder pads, elbow pads, and shin pads should fit correctly, too.
Speed can also be impacted by the skates you are wearing. The skates should fit snugly without being too tight and have a sharpened blade and good ankle and foot support.
These tips and the information provided in this guide are sure to help you learn how to skate faster to give your team an edge on the ice. If there are any other ways to improve your skating speed that I missed, don’t hesitate to let me know!About Kale