Elements of Power in Hockey Skating: The Release, Follow Through & Return
After a proper windup, the pushing skate and leg drive directly and fully against the pushing edge. All skating pushes are outward/inward—not backward/forward. Too many players allow the pushing skate and leg to slip back into a walking/running motion. This is a huge mistake.
A push is complete only when the pushing skate and leg are fully extended. Full extension is the instant in a push during which the entire leg—hip, quads, knee, calf, ankle and toes—is locked. A well-executed follow through allows for the all-important “toe-flick,” the final push against the ice with the front of the edge.
Note that full extension is based on maintaining a 90-degree knee bend of the gliding leg at the point of full extension. A lesser knee bend produces a lesser range of motion and subsequently an inadequate push.
The importance of the return is that it prepares the skater for the next push. As previously mentioned, each push must begin directly beneath the center of gravity. An incomplete return means that the skates and legs will be outside the “battery pack” at the beginning of the next push. The subsequent push will be “empty”—inefficient and ineffective.
Players who push from a wide base feel as though they’re going fast because they can move their legs rapidly. Of course they can move their legs rapidly—their range of motion is very short. In actuality, they end up working hard and accomplishing little. These players also tend to tire quickly because they waste a lot of energy “going nowhere fast.” Our goal is efficient speed. To accomplish this, each push must go through its full range of motion.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Laura Stamm of Laura Stamm Power Skating for this story. Kelly Anton, managing editor of the Grow the Game initiative, edited this story.