Power Skating Advice

12 Feb Power Skating Advice

Dr HockeyThe Doctor’s Diagnosis: Power skating in Young Hockey Players

Here is a letter I recently received from a concerned parent regarding the next step in power skating development for their young player:

Hi Dr. Hockey, my son is 6 years old and he is playing his second year of house league. He started to learn how to skate at the age of 3. We have been attending many skating  programs from learn to skate up to power skating. In my opinion my Son has the hockey skills to compete with the upper half of his league but he lacks the speed to keep up with top 25%. Here is my reasoning and you can let me know if i’m just being a dumb hockey dad or if i have a point (be blunt). My son is predominant lefty (a south paw) he writes left, throws left and kicks left, when he went through his learning stages they taught skating skills that are predominantly right. Start and stop, cross overs etc… So now I believe his skating speed is lacking because his technique has been hindered and his stride is off. Is this possible or is it that he has to work harder on his speed. Thanks in advance to your response, by the way, i cant seem to find where your rink is located from your website.

Getting more out of the stride of a young hockey player  is a very common question so I thought I would share my answer with everyone:

Hi,

 Thanks for taking the time to reach out to me!
 
I think it is very impressive that your son has been skating since he was three and must have had a great time training so far! The issue with the skills to compete, but the lack of speed to execute is very common among young hockey players because speed training is so much more specialized than regular skating technique. the reason for this is because it requires training the instant activation of muscle fibers as quick and explosive as possible. This requires Power skatingPOWER, which first requires STRENGTH. Some kids just seem to have this from the start in their young careers because of their genetic muscle makeup (fast twitch fibers), but others need to develop this over time. The problem is that a player can skate around pylons all they want while someone blows a whistle, but while this does train the cardiovascular system, it has very little impact on training the nervous system to be explosive.
 
Training a young child to be explosive is already very limited as it is because of the demand that explosiveness has for strength. While it is easy to train an adult to be more explosive through multiple joint activation exercises using heavy weights, a young child cannot exceed their own body weight. Training a young child for power is not limited to body weight however; there is another safe ally… gravity!
A coach working to make a young player definitely needs to focus on developing strength in the stride through progressive, well thought out range of motion techniques, but can also focus on getting the body’s mid-line away from their base of support (AKA being off balance). Getting them to accept moments of being off balance at critical times in skill performance allows their body to have no choice but to activate fight or flight adrenaline responses that kick in when the body feels threatened or in danger. This takes the child’s physical abilities to a whole new level of activation. As the child’s body paves the necessary neuromuscular pathways to guard against the off balance stimulus, the young player falls less and less. Thus, the child naturally becomes faster as they learn to keep up with the 10 meter per second acceleration of gravity!
 
stride developmentSo to answer your question, it’s not how much ice, it’s often what he is doing on the ice that matters! Speed training is specialized and can not be developed no matter how hard he works at generalized drills!
 
I hope this helps to shed some light on the issue. Let me know if there is anything else you need clarification on in the future!
 
Improvement is Vital!
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