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Figure Skating Secrets for Ice Hockey Players

Hockey Power Skating Drills

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This article takes some secrets from figure skating and applies them to power hockey skating techniques.

Most of these drills can be practiced on public ice skating sessions. Players can begin each drill from behind the goal line and then skate most of the drills around the entire ice surface using both lengths of the arena (except the crossover drills). 

Note: About.com's Guide to Figure Skating, Jo Ann Schneider Farris, developed the drills in this article. She has taught hockey power skating for over twenty years.

Balance Drills

Figure Skating Helps Hockey
Photo by Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen - Getty Images

When a player first takes to the ice, he or she should first work on balance. The following drills may be useful:

  • Two foot glides
  • Straight line one foot glides
  • Gliding on curves (first on two feet and then one one foot, all directions)
  • Dips
  • Two foot jumps
  • C-cut jumps (small jumps to one foot curved inside glides down the length of the arena)
  • Lunges
  • One foot squats (alternating legs)
  • Groin stretch - Glide on two feet and touch toes
  • Shoot-the-ducks (alternating legs)
  • One foot balance drills (spirals)

Forward Stride Drills

Figure Skating Has Helped Ethan Crowe's Hockey Game
Photo Courtesy of Sharon Crowe

It is important for players to be able to be able to easily move forward.  Knowing how to make the most of every push and stride is the key to power hockey skating.  There are several drills that will help forward strides. 

Tips: Move from one foot to the other.  Try to keep away from doing too much skating with two feet on the ice.  Stay under control.  Trust the blade's edges.

  • One foot T-pushes (scooter pushes) with and without leg extension
  • Forward striding with arms swinging
  • Forward striding without using arms
  • Forward strides with toe dragging
  • Lunges with toe drag
  • Two foot c-cuts (forward swizzles)
  • One foot c-cuts (1/2 swizzles)
  • Two foot edge pulls (slalom)
  • One foot edge pulls
  • Two foot edge pull jumps
  • One foot edge pull jumps

Varying Tempos of Forward Strides

The following drills may help players master forward striding techniques.  Make sure to keep the skating knees bent.

  • Forward crossovers around rink ends, rapid strides to blue line, 2 strides from blue to blue, rapid strides to goal line, repeat
  • Goal line to first blue line, 8 rapid strides
  • Blue to blue, 4 strides
  • Blue to goal, 2 strides

Crossover Drills

Figure Skating and Hockey Meet
Photo by Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen - Getty Images

Crossovers are the way skaters move around corners. On a curve, the skater crosses the outside skate over the skate that is on the inside of the curve. Being able to do good crossovers in both directions is essential for hockey. The following drills will help players with crossover techniques:

  • Crossover walks along goal line (both directions)
  • Running crossover walks along goal line (both direction)
  • Pumping on hockey circles (front and back)
  • Forward and backward crossover on hockey circles
  • Freeze drill—skate crossovers fast on circle, when whistle blows "freeze" on the foot you are on and hold without putting foot down (do both forward and backward)
  • Crossovers in both directions on all five of the rink's hockey circle

    Backward Skating Drills

    A player should be able to skate backward just as well as forward. The following drills will help improve backward skating techniques:

    • Backward straight line c-cuts on two feet (backward swizzles)
    • Straight line c-cuts (one foot at a time - back half swizzles)
    • Alternating straight line c-cuts (back 1/2 swizzles)
    • Backward slaloms
    • One foot backward c-cuts (short back inside edges)
    • Backward pumping on hockey circles (both directions)
    • Backward crossovers

    Stopping Drills

    Snowplow Stop
    Photo by Brian Bahr - Getty Images

    Stopping on the ice is done by scraping the flat part of the blade across the ice. Pressure is put on the scraping foot, and the friction created on the ice causes a stop. This article lists some basic drills that will help improve a player's stopping technique.

    • Two foot snowplow stops
    • One foot snowplow stops (a player will favor one foot, but must practice stopping with both his or her good foot and bad foot!)
    • T-stops
    • Hockey stops
    • One foot hockey stops
    • Backward snowplow stops
    • Quick starts and stops all the way down the length of the arena from goal line to goal line

    Starts

    Stopping and starting is done throughout every hockey game. Gaining power while starting is a hockey essential.  Some drills that will help a player with starting techniques are listed below.

    • Forward starts first starting from behind the goal line, stopping at blue line, starting again at blue line, then red line, and then the blue line along the length of the arena
    • Side crossover starts (both directions)
    • Leaping side crossover starts (both directions)
    • Backward starts into backward skating
    • Backward start into backward crossovers

    Turning Drills

    Mohawk Turn
    Illustration by Larisa Gendernalik

    Players needs to be able to quickly turn from forward to backward and backward to forward in all directions. It is essential that turning does not cause a player to lose momentum. The following drills will help players with turning techniques:

    • Mohawk turns (v-turns) in straight lines
    • Mohawk turn (v-turns) on curves
    • Windmill mohawk drills (turning from front to back and from back to forward while turning like a windmill)
    • Sprint to blue line, turn, skate backward to red, turn forward to blue line, turn backward at blue line, and skate to goal line backward
    • Skate forward and then jump 180 degrees and then skate backward to goal line
    • Two foot turns (all directions) - forward to backward and then backward to forward
    • One foot turns (3 turns)

    Tight Curve (Pivot) Drills

    Joel and Rebekah Schneider-Farris Played Hockey Before Taking Up Figure Skating
    Photo Copyright © JO ANN Schneider Farris

    In addition to being able to start, stop, and turn, hockey players must be able to make quick and tight turns. Pivot drills can help players master curves.

    • Curves around cones or face-off dots
    • Pivots making figure eight patterns around face-off dots or from goal line to red line and back
    • 360 curves around face-off dots
    • 360 jumps and 360 curves at goal, blue, red, blue, and goals lines while doing forward striding down the length to the arena

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