Elements of Power in Hockey Skating: The Windup
Every push must be executed against an edge. Some pushes, as in the forward and backward stride, are executed against the inside edge. Others, as in the second push of forward and backward crossovers, are executed against the outside edge. An effective pushing edge requires that the edge of the pushing skate grips the ice at a 45 degree angle. It is impossible to push against the flat of the blade or against a shallow (weakly angled) edge.
The knee of both the pushing leg and the gliding leg must be strongly bent. I teach players to bend far enough so that their knees are bent 90 degrees (a 90 degree angle between the thigh and the shin). In hockey, it is important to have a strong knee bend of both the pushing leg and the gliding leg at all times. Popping up, or jumping up, destroys the push, as well as forward (or backward) motion.
Body Weight and Balance
The skater’s total body weight—100 percent—must be directly above and balanced over the edge of the pushing skate. At approximately the midpoint of the push, the body weight shifts from the pushing skate to the gliding skate.
Center of Gravity
When players push, they are actually pushing their body weight. While the pushing leg does the work, skaters really push themselves (forward or backward). In order to push yourself, each push must be initiated from directly under the center of gravity (I call this the “battery pack” or “power source”). The center of gravity is an imaginary circle, approximately 3 inches in diameter, located in the midsection of the body (the belly button area). To push effectively, the pushing skate must be directly under the center of gravity. To achieve this, the skates must be fairly close together at the initiation of each push (no further than 3 inches apart).
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.