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Ice skating drills for hockey players should address the diverse scenarios in which skaters find themselves on the ice. Players are constantly stopping, starting, changing directions, and repeatedly reversing ice—hockey skating drills should reinforce those maneuvers and skills.
It may seem obvious, but hockey players must master the stop and start. And while this seems easy enough, skating drills aimed at mastering the stop and start will also help a skater learn other ice skating techniques.
The first skating drill is the straight-ahead start, in which you turn one skate perpendicular to the other and push off. A powerful push-off allows you to go from a dead stop to a sprint quickly. Get low, dig the inside edge of your push-off skate into the ice, and spring forward. Follow that by digging the other skate’s edge into the ice and pushing with the other leg until you’re at top speed. Combine these starts with quick hockey stops, and reverse direction to double the impact of this power skating drill.
A crossover start to accelerate laterally rather than straight ahead is an ice skating technique you can improve with skating drills. You’re not always facing the direction you need to go on the ice, and rather than turning and then accelerating, simply crossover and go. Take two or three hard strides, then stop, crossover, and head the opposite direction to skate back.
Most of the time in hockey, a player is already moving when they need to break into a sprint up the ice. So getting a good start while already in motion is another important skill. Practice gliding on the ice and then dropping low to explode into a sprint. Practice this drill in different directions. Glide and then sprint the opposite direction, or crossover and sprint laterally. Another option is to glide one direction and then hockey stop and sprint the opposite direction, or crossover laterally. These drills simulate on-ice situations in which you’ll find yourself regularly.
Include skating drills in your hockey training that reinforce a variety of hockey skills. Hockey fitness drills should be among them, but doing conditioning exercises for hockey doesn’t mean going for a long jog. Hockey fitness is the ability to go full bore for a few minutes at a time, recover quickly, and be ready to do it again and again until the final horn sounds.
Skating drills should include plenty of speed, and starts and stops are an excellent conditioning workout to build fitness. Try skating lines: skate as hard as possible from the goal line to the blue line and back to the goal line, followed by the center line and back to the goal line, to the far blue line and back, and then to the other goal line and back. Be sure to focus on form and not just speed. Don’t build bad skills by skating to exhaustion and standing up—maintain your skating form throughout. If your fitness level doesn’t allow this, then shorten the drill.
Hockey skating drills often focus on speed and power. But skating drills can also improve agility—dealing with the constant changes that occur on the ice during a game. The ability to avoid checks, hop over a stick, step around the skates of another player, and similar skills, will keep you on your feet and moving in the right direction during a game.
Hockey drills to improve your agility will also help improve your balance on the ice. Pushing off and gliding on one skate is a drill that addresses balance. While gliding, bend your knee and lower yourself over the skate that is on the ice as low as you can go and hold that glide as long as possible. Hold the glide around sweeping curves and make turns on the single skate as well. Footwork is also important to being agile on your skates, and skating drills that use training tools can help.
One such tool is the Pro Guard Slide Board, which is used off the ice to slide side to side, building agility but also improving speed, flexibility, and endurance. The slide board can be used for bursts of explosive hockey training sessions to maximize impact. Another tool useful on or off the ice is the SKLZ Hurdles, which can be used for a variety of hockey skating drills. Set up the hurdles in a straight line and step over them as you skate, or hop over them. Work a drill with these six-inch hurdles where you skate to them, hop over, stop, hop back over, and skate away. Try stepping over them laterally as you accelerate from a stop, or line them up close together to step over a series of them. Double up your training by handling a puck as you work your way through these drills.
Continue to improve your skating with a variety of hockey skating drills, to prepare yourself for all situations on the ice.