Im making progress but NOT as fast as Id like!!! Im seeing more improvement in the beginners league due to my play in the mens league. Im still struggling with my skating, my shooting, and ice awareness are getting a lot better but NOT the skating. Its VERY frusterating. Please Help.
Before I get into what may be going on, it’s important to understand something. As an infant, nobody taught you how to walk. Like every other kid in the world, you started by holding onto an object and standing up. After you gained confidence standing, you would let go of the object, wobble, fall, crawl and try it again. Through the repetition, you gained confidence and eventually went from standing to walking. To become a good hockey player you need to learn how to run (not walk) on skates in every direction and you can’t learn how to run if you haven’t learned how to walk. To become proficient at skating, you need education; a testing platform to make mistakes; a teacher that can identify mistakes and provide solutions; an atmosphere that offers additional repetition; and most importantly, the desire you have to improve.
In order to skate effectively, regardless of the direction, you need to shift your weight properly. Proper weight shift is achieved by placing your chin, center of chest, knee and gliding foot in a straight vertical line. (For men, center of gravity is the chest, for women it’s the hips. A female skater needs to align their chin, center of hips, knee and toe in a straight vertical line.)
Most skaters, especially when new, will keep their chin centered between their feet, slightly shifting it side to side while skating. The slight shift prevents skaters from achieving a full stride, full return and full power. This is often why new skaters are wobbly and slow.
To give you an off-ice example and a better understanding, stand up and try this:
Spread your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your chin centered between both feet on the floor, try to pick up your right leg and stand on your left. (DON’T MOVER YOUR CHIN, KEEP IT CENTERED.) You should instantly notice that you cannot balance on one foot! You can pick up your right foot, but you can’t balance on your left foot without setting the right foot down. If you don’t set your right foot back down quickly enough, you’ll fall over.
This time, place your chin over the top of your left foot; making sure your chin, the center of your chest, left knee and foot are in a straight vertical line. One everything is lined up, pick up your right foot. If you did this correct, you should notice that you are able to stand on one leg. If you’re wobbly, bend the knee you are standing on (to lower your center of gravity) and the wobbling should subside.
You may be questioning the relevance of this test, so let me explain. Once you achieve proper weight shift over the gliding foot, you will be able to independently work the stride foot, allowing it to fully extend out and fully retract back underneath your body. By accomplishing proper weight shift, you will gain longer and more powerful strides with one exception. If you are bending over at the waist, leaning too far forwards, you will reduce stride length. When skating forwards, try to keep your knees bent, butt down, back straight and head up. Ideally, you’re trying to get your femur bone, over the gliding foot, parallel to the ice giving you a 90 degree angle between the shin and femur. (As it would appear when you are sitting in a chair.)
To understand why keeping your back straight is important, try this test:
Shift your weight over your left foot and step backward with your right foot, keeping your back straight/head up. (You’re in a simulated stride stance.) Now bend over at the waist, bringing your head/chin closer to your left foot. As you do this, you will notice that your right foot slides closer to your body, reducing the overall length of the stride. (A shortened stride reduces the power that can be delivered to the stride leg; which causes you to work much harder.) Think of it this way: If you could get from the goal line to the blue line in 5 strides, why would you want to take 10?!?!
Hope this helps as a starting point! So, what exactly is going on with your skating and which areas are you having the most trouble? Select from the list below so I can identify which area of skating you need help in…just try to give a brief description of what’s frustrating you with the skill you are having trouble with.
Transitions in the direction you are skating (forward to backward to forward)
Transitions in the direction you came from (forwards to backwards)
Balance or agility on skates