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What you can learn from other sports

March 14, 2011 Hockey Tips No Comments

By Robby Glantz
Oct 23, 2001, 15:00

Robby Glantz

At my schools I often show the kids photos of NHL players executing proper techniques in skating. One of the pictures I inevitably display is of that renowned hockey star, Michael Jordan.

How’s that? Is he playing hockey now, too?

Of course not, but I show the picture of Jordan making a move on a defender in basketball—his knees bent to 90°, his back straight, his head up—to illustrate a point. That is, that the body mechanics needed to generate speed, maneuverability, balance, etc. in hockey can directly correspond with the body mechanics in nearly every other sport. In this column, I will depict for you certain body mechanics used by athletes in sports other than hockey. Hopefully, this will allow you to improve your skating and give you a better understanding of how we use our body in sports, particularly in hockey.

Basketball

As is the case with Michael Jordan, all great basketball players have incredible strength in their legs. They have the ability to play an entire game with tre-mendous flexibility in their knees. Basketball players also have unbelievable balance, especially when they get all their body weight centered over one foot while taking off for a monster dunk.

If you are familiar with my methods, then you are aware that much of what I mentioned above is at the center of how I teach faster skating. For example, since skating strength comes from the legs, the ability to flex the knees past the point where you feel comfortable (“The Comfort Zone”) is the most important and quickest way to improve your overall skating. Also, as in basketball, to attain maximum power and thrust from your pushes, you must develop the ability to center 100% of your body weight over one foot, which, I should add, is a lot harder to do on a skate blade than it is in a tennis shoe.

Skiing

When I be-gan to thoroughly learn the art of ice skating, I noticed that my skiing ability improved dramatically along the way, and not by coincidence. Skiers use their edges exactly the way we do on ice skates. That is, in order to make sharp turns on the hill they roll the edge, either outside or inside, to 45° (halfway), which gives them their grip in the snow. Also, watch the champion skiers, like an Alberto Tomba; they are masters of the “Counterbalance Technique,” the ability to shift your body weight in the opposite direction of your edges, thus countering the balance and allowing for an extreme turn.

So much of what is discussed above, use of both inside and outside edges, rolling the edges at the ankle to get the proper grip and the art of counterbalancing, is parallel to that in skating. The main benefit of watching the top skiers perform will be in helping your turning maneuvers. If you can mimic the skier by learning to shift your body weight to the outside, rather than leaning into a turn and running the risk of having the skates slide out from under you, then soon you will be making much faster and more controlled turns.

Sprinting

Sprinting is, obviously, all about speed. However, the greatest sprinters are the ones that combine their raw speed with hard work and a dedication to rehearsing proper techniques—just as in skating. From a technique standpoint, the sprinter gets a quick start by exploding out of the blocks forward—not upward—on the balls of their feet. After a few quick but efficient strides, they settle into full extension of the legs. Also, notice how the sprinter extends his or her arms fully to the front (in the direction of travel) and not side to side, or against the line of travel.

The explosive start is a vital element in the sport of hockey. You should try to emulate the sprinter coming out of the blocks when practicing your starts. Do this by springing forward on the front part of the skate and making 3-to-4 quick (not short) strides before settling into your longer, gliding motion. The importance of a correct arm swing when skating cannot be minimized either. Make every attempt to have your arms swing to the front, with one hand on the stick, in the direction you are going. If your arms pass the mid-section of your body, that can take your momentum from side to side and throw off your balance, all resulting in a loss of speed.

And by the way, the defender we referred to in the opening paragraph upon whom Jordan is making the move, John Starks of the Knicks, is also executing a perfect Crossover Maneuver—knees bent, inside shoulder parallel to the floor (not leaning in) and inside leg crossing under the body to full extension. So these are principles that work on both offense and defense!

Robby Glantz, power skating coach for the Los Angeles Kings, Swedish champions Malmö, and the German National Teams, conducts skating programs throughout North America and Europe.

This first appeared in the 03/1995 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2011 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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