In the search for faster skating, hockey players will seemingly do whatever it takes.
There are an endless number of camps, sessions, and teams that kids can play on/attend all designed to create better hockey players.
More often than not, these are great. Kids learn fundamental skills of the game, it might help a little bit with exposure, and there can be good competition.
The athlete might finish out the duration of it but still seem be slow.
I hear it a lot, my son/daughter is a great athlete but they need to be faster.
What if the solution was not more skating or more games, but instead had to do with how the athlete controls their posture?
Enough with that dark magic.
Some athletes will lack the strength where they need and actually struggle to skate well.
Hockey players are usually stuck in a position of hips back and chest up. Whether the hips are actually back or not is a different story.
The chest will often come up as a result of arching through the low back. Many hockey players will complain of tight backs because the muscles along the spine are always firing.
This combination is a bad scenario for hockey players. This increased arch in the spine is actually limiting players’ ability to skate fast.
How does it affect skating?
When a hockey player skates they need to lower their center of gravity by pushing the hips back and bending at the knees. In order not to get their head knocked off in a game, they have to keep their eyes up.
When athletes spend too much time in spinal extension (arching), as a safety measure, it can limit how well the athlete will skate. This hard arch forces the pelvis to slightly tip forward.
A pelvis that is in anterior tilt will be limited in how much hip extension that it can get.
To create a powerful stride the hip must fully extend to propel the athlete forward up the ice. Incomplete hip extension makes for weak pushes and more strides to get to the same spot, both of which limit skating speed.
The solution isn’t to stare down at the ground to avoid the chest up issue, the athlete must rely on good core control.
With an increase in core control, the hips will be able to hinge back. This means that the hips are going to be the driving force of the movement. They will not be going back because the back is arched, they will be going back in a way that will allow the athlete to use the muscles of the hip.
When the back hyperextends we lose stability through the torso and will lose force production as a result. Loss of force production means that athletes are not going to be able to push into the ice hard enough to skate fast.
If the hips are hinging back properly, the core will control the pelvis and make room for the leg to move within the hip joint. This will allow the hip to extend and create a good stride.
Most hockey players are limiting their ability to skate because they have no stability through their torso and cannot move as a result. Improving core stability will allow the athlete to sit lower to the ice and stride the leg back effectively.
Some exercises to add to improve core control:
If you are interested in training for hockey, I have just released an E-book. It’s titled Slideboard Training for Hockey. The goal of the E-book is to provide athletes with some exercises to help build strength and speed to skate faster. It also includes a 12 week conditioning program. Best of all, it is completely FREE. Click here to get your copy.