Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Proper Forward Crossover Technique

A big emphasis on this year's current high school team is basic skills and proper skating technique.  With 15 of our 20 player rosters underclassmen (freshmen & sophmores) and most with very limited playing/ skating experience, it is more important than ever to develop proper technique so that they have the necessary foundation with which to build upon.

The most common mistakes I see are any variety of steps rather than strides, improper weight distribution, lack of full extension... and sometimes even usage of wrong edges.

Here are 2 key teaching points to consider-
1. 2 Strides within the crossover push – the “stride push” and the “X-push.”
The “stride push” is the outside leg and mirrors the motion of a forward stride with leg locked at full extension and a powerful toe-flick at the end of the stride.
The “X-push” is performed with the inside leg. It also requires full extension and a toe-flick, but feels very un-natural and can take quite some time to learn, particularly if the placement of the skaters legs are improperly aligned and if the player isn't effectively bending their knees.
2. Carve the edges into the ice rather than simply gliding on them.  Hold each push – both the “stride push” then the “X-push” for 3 seconds each as a drill to improve technique.
Coaches and players should listen to the ice for the sound of their skates carving hard into the ice. Often players will be strong on the inside-edge of their glide (outer) leg but soft (weak) on the outside-edge of their inside leg (“X-push”).
The lack of effective carving will be easily apparent for skaters who are crossover "steppers" and lack good body balance.  If the skater is too upright, they will not be able to provide the necessary leverage to effectively carve.

"If you can't skate you can't rate."- No other skills matter any where near as much as skating, and it never hurts to go back and review the positive and negative components of your own individual skating stride.  Everyone has their own style, and habits.. but their are always ways to get more out of what you are doing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Wish List

Many of you know I am very "Do it yourself-er" when it comes to hockey training and training gear.  I think most items can be made, retro-fitted or the activities be replicated with a little elbow grease.  Yet, there are some great tools that would make terrific gifts for the Youth Hockey Player in your life...

1) Weighted pucks-  These items are very difficult to be retro-fitted as the vulcanized rubber of a standard puck loses its shape when altered.  Weighted pucks are great for stickhandling practice to speed up your hands and shooting practice to strengthen your shot.

2) Don Cherry Videos-  As a kid I used to love to watch Don Cherry video's, back when these were in VHS format, and try to copy the stickhandling and scoring moves of the players featured.  Don Cherry has made a video a year, every year for the last 20 or so, so there are plenty of options to choose from.  Each video includes a years worth of highlights, playoff features, and commentary.

3) Exercise Ball-  These are a great way for youth players to first have an experience with strength training, and the difficult manuevers can be valuable for experienced players as well.  Use the ball to strengthen your core, lower/ upper body, and balance training.  Hundreds of exercises can be performed.

4) Street Hockey Net-  These are necessary for any young player.  Can be used for a backyard shooting station, street hockey games, or on a backyard or pond hockey rink.  I've always preferred metal over PVC nets, as the PVC will break easily if used in the winter months.

5) Ken Dryden's "The Game"-  A must read for any hockey fan.  Dryden is a Cornell- grad and Hockey hall of famer, who detailed in this classic book the inner workings of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty.