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Chalk Talk | Skating Circles (Novice and Atom)

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 10/21/16, 12:00PM EDT

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Age-appropriate skills, drills and progressions

Crossovers are a core skating skill for players to change direction and to generate speed. It is also a very important component of overall skating agility. The following drills can effectively performed on two circles – great for station-based or half-ice practices. The progressions provide a variety of skating maneuvers on the circle from striding to crossovers to open ups and pivots.

Coaches will often have players skate all five circles, however, players may become fatigued and their form breaks down, this is especially true with younger players. At this point we need to be clear of the purpose of the drill – once form breaks down, we would only be reinforcing poor techniques and repeating bad habits.

•    Players start in line in the corner.
•    Perform skating skills around both circles to ensure skills are done equally both ways.
•    Make sure technique is done correctly before speed. Repeat each skill as many times as necessary until players get the footwork right.

Drill Progression & Key Teaching Points:

1.    Crossunders – both skates remain on the ice; instead of ‘crossing over’, the inside skate strides behind or ‘under’ the outside lead foot, using the outside edge; this keeps player low to the ice and emphasizes the outside edge thrust.
2.    C-Cuts – both skates remain on the ice; deep-knee bend on inside leg; fully extend the outside leg, driving through the heel; outside skate recovers under the body, bring both skates together.
3.    Crossovers - Quick feet / Hi-lo – Key here is no gliding! This drill develops foot speed by performing 3-4 quick crossovers in one direction and then 3-4 in the other. Pathway is around top of circle and bottom of another; performing the skill this way is more game-like than performing crossovers around a complete circle.
4.    Inside Open-Ups (Crosby) – This is a deceptive skating maneuver which requires great balance and flexibility in the hips; facing the middle of the circle, player brings heels together, opening up hips with toes/knees facing outward; shift weight from back foot to front foot to generate speed.
5.    Outside Open-Ups (Tarasenko) – Another deceptive skating skill, can also be used as a puck protection technique; facing away from the circle this time; player opens hips, bring heels together; back to forward skating and repeat; think of shielding the puck, keeping the players body between the puck and the circle.
6.    Pivot Inside with 1 Crossover – Quickness, balance and agility! Pivot from forward skating to backwards and back to forwards while skating around the circle; maintain speed and stay low with deep knee bend.

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