It’s September and hockey is fully back into the swing of things. At this point coaches want to know how to incorporate power skating into their practices. There is a lot for coaches to work on like shooting, passing, offensive and defensive zone coverage, and breakouts, so to add power skating may seem impossible, but trust me it is workable. Coaches know how important skating is to the game and want to incorporate it into their practice plan, but often don’t know the best way to go about it.
1) Straight forward easy skating tips
If your association does not have designated power-skating development for the players or teams, you as the coach will need to spent time on skating development in practice. Even though coaches are not trained as power skating instructors there are certain aspects of skating fundamentals that we can all see, and these are the fundamentals that coaches should stress.
These fundamentals include having the players bend the knees more than where they feel comfortable, pushing the legs to full extension in the forwards and backwards stride. Keeping their chest and eyes up. Keeping their sticks down on the ice and not swinging them high in the air. Also, make sure they do not hunch over but rather bend with their knees while keeping their back straight.
2) Be creative
A great time to practice power skating drills is during the warm-up. This is even before the pucks come on the ice. However, with the older age groups power skating techniques can be practiced while using pucks, as well. One of the greatest problems I encounter while traveling rink to rink is with the creativity on the part of some coaches and the lack of well-rounded drills.
For example, simply because the pucks are on the ice does not mean that the players have to carry it with them everywhere they go. Be creative. Maybe, place the pucks in a certain location and have the players do some fun and explosive skating maneuvers before they pick up the puck so they have no distractions and are free to concentrate solely on their technique.
3) Have fun
I know that players need time to work on skills such as passing, shooting and stick handling — the "fun" part of hockey. While these important aspects of the game should be practiced, let's not forget that skating better and more efficiently only helps to make these skills stronger.
As a coach you need to stay away from using power skating as a punishment. This automatically sets the wrong tone for the players.
There are, of course, times to work on conditioning and endurance drills and times to work on technique as well. With each individual situation being different, it is the coach’s job to weigh all the factors and decide the best times for each. We at Scary Skate find that the beginning of the season September/October is the best time for technical power skating and it is important to stick with it as the season progresses.
Scary Mary says I will see you all at the rink ………