Many wide-eyed skaters who are new to the game can't wait to pick up a hockey stick and get started. Getting comfortable on their skates will provide entry-level players with the right start to their hockey experience – this will give them confidence and independence on the ice – and leads to engagement and fun! Fun means they keep coming back for more.
The following progression takes the player from a stationary balanced hockey position on two skates to comfort balancing on one skate and then performing both skills while moving.
All three drills can be part of a station-based practice session.
Also known as the ‘hockey stance’ is the starting point for all skating movements; it permits a player to move in any direction and a solid base of support. Turn this into a fun game by having players lie on their backs – on Coach's signal; they roll onto their stomachs, up to their knees and into the two-foot stance.
Key Teaching Points:
• Feet are shoulder width apart with weight on balls of the feet
• Knees and ankles are bent at approximately 45°
• Head up, eyes looking forward
• Stick in two hands with blade on ice, slightly to the side of the body
Balance on One Foot
Using the same position as the Basic Stance, shift weight onto one skate and lift other skate off the ice. Keep knee and ankle flexed. Players will only be able to do this for a short time so switch often of have players go from two feet to back to two and switch.
Gliding on Two Skates
The next progression is gliding on two skates; this is essentially the basic stance while moving. Players will need to take a few strides to get momentum and go into a glide on two skates. Have players alternate between upright stance and basic stance and focus on a quiet, controlled upper body.
Gliding on One Skate
Same process as previous drill; allow players to start in a two foot glide position and then lift one skate off the ice. Keep the blade of the glide leg flat on the ice and not on the inside or outside edge. The next progression will be to add a deep knee bend, preparing the player for forward striding.