How To Be A Better Skater Hockey? [Updated!]

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Ever since the summer of 2019 began, fans of the beautiful game have been eagerly awaiting the return of the National Hockey League (NHL). The season was delayed a bit by the pandemic, but since January has been filled with milestones and amazing moments.

While our avid readers may have been busy enjoying the hockey thrills, the average hockey fan may have found themselves struggling on the ice. With the majority of European leagues putting their seasons on pause, many hockey players have had time off to focus on their skating and conditioning. As a result, the NHL saw an uptick in scoring and fewer shutouts than usual.

On the heels of one of the greatest NHL seasons of all time, we take a look at how to be a better skater – and how you can help your favorite hockey players get back to their best.

Skating Technique

The basic mechanics of skating are simple enough. You take steps with your feet in an L-pattern with the puck. Rotate your ankles in such a way that your knees track over your toes. This motion propels you forward while also maintaining your balance. As you get more experience, gradually add more speed and twists to your stride.

The most visible difference between an average hockey player and a great one is the way they skate. While the latter may possess incredible speed, smoothness, and agility, the average player may be struggling to improve their already-firm skating technique.

If you want to be a better hockey skater, you must first master the craft. The good news is that with a little bit of dedication and analysis, you can pinpoint the areas in your skating that you need to work on to become the best you can be. With the right coaching, tools, and equipment, even the most inexperienced hockey players can master this essential element of the game. Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

Ice Rinks

The outdoor ice rinks that we are so accustomed to seeing have returned, and they have done so in a big way. The NHL opened the season with several games played outdoors, and while it’s not always ideal, the fresh air and sun certainly didn’t hurt either the players or the spectators. Since then, the majority of the league’s games have been played at outdoor arenas.

There are several reasons why outdoor ice rinks are better than their indoors counterparts. The most obvious is that they are outside, meaning the puck and the weather aren’t a factor. Additionally, fans can better get a feel for the speed and aggression of the game by occasionally throwing some snowballs or spraying the players with water bottles (just make sure they aren’t plastic!).

Even if you don’t play hockey, you can still help the game by attending the outdoor rinks. It’s always nice to see a game played in pristine conditions with no roofs to damage, no overhangs to restrict your view, and only the sounds of crashing pucks and roaring crowds.

Less Rest

In case you’re wondering, ice hockey players don’t just skate in circles; they also need to take a break now and then to ensure their muscles remain supple and their joints stay aligned. The best way to prevent injuries is by keeping your muscles engaged and active throughout the season. This is why ice hockey players often have to take a break in between games and why they are sometimes known as “working stiffs.”

While it’s usually the case that the professionals take the time off during the season, the good news is that you too can help your favorite hockey players by encouraging them to get out on the ice and give their bodies a workout during the offseason. Set some time aside on your calendar now so you’ll remember to do this during the winter months. If you want to be a better hockey skater, you must remember to give your body a workout even when the season is over!

Fenestration And Ventilation

One of the first things you’ll notice about an NHL arena is how well they are built and how open they are. There aren’t any “solid walls” to keep the cold air in and the heat out, which is fantastic in terms of both efficiency and comfort.

It’s well known that a fast, open ice rink generates a ton of heat, which can make it pretty challenging to stay cool during a game. This issue is particularly problematic for players who reside far from the nearest air-conditioned building. Thankfully, modern-day arenas are built with huge sliding glass windows, which open during the summertime and allow some fresh air inside the arena. This not only makes the inside of the rink much more pleasant, but it also helps keep the ice at the correct temperature.

Even better, the newer the arena, the more modern and convenient the fenestration. This is a fancy word for the area around the window, where the glass meets the frame of the building. It’s often used in reference to architecture, but it can also be applied to skaters, with the outside world looking in. If you want to be a better hockey skater, take note of the way the glass meets the frame around the rink and consider using this area to your advantage by training your eyes to focus on it during practice.

Rotation

If you’re a hockey player, you must learn how to rotate your ankles. This essential motion allows you to jumpstart your stride and take off quickly. Without it, you’ll find yourself either struggling to get off the ground or falling over quickly. While it may not sound difficult, it is certainly a difficult to learn and implement motion. To give you an idea of how important this is, it is commonly known that the position of a skater’s ankles determines the overall flexibility of their hips and legs, making it a key factor in their overall sport performance. Even if you don’t play hockey, you can still work on your rotation with the hope of improving your overall movement and coordination in life – especially if you want to avoid injury along the way!

Along with skating technique, another area worth working on is your stance. For years, the “common” stance has been seen as the position of a hockey player’s feet when they are standing in front of the net – directly beside each other and with their toes pointing forward. The problem with this position is that it places too much strain on the knee joint, resulting in frequent injuries and the need for knee replacements as we age.

The recommended stance for hockey players is wider than typical, with the goal being to place your feet well beyond the other player when they are lined up across from you. Doing this takes a bit of practice, as it means you have to shift your weight farther back when taking a stride – but once you master it, you’ll reap the benefits of a much less knee-injured and more active lifestyle!

Sidework

Another area that can improve your hockey skills is your position on the ice during the game. There are several examples of superstitions that hockey players have, and one of the most bizarre is that of doing chores on the day before a game. While this may seem odd, it is in fact a common routine for hockey players to get in some last-minute practice in order to ensure their game-day preparation is as effective as possible. This practice often involves some serious sidework.

Hockey players will often slide around on the ice in their bare feet, which can help improve their agility and balance. In addition, they may also do some wall-sits or leg lifts, which work the quads and glutes as well as the hamstring group. These are all important muscles that you need to keep in good shape so that you can continue enjoying the game for years to come!

Injury

Speaking of which, working on your leg muscles and getting in some extra practice aren’t the only ways you can help your favorite hockey players stay healthy. You may also need to look into the injury sections of their equipment to see if there are any modifications they could make to prevent further damage. For example, the longer the skater’s skate blade is, the more effective it is at transferring energy to the puck, resulting in fewer injuries due to collisions. Additionally, the thinner the ice sheet, the more effective the skater will be, meaning fewer injuries due to falls and fewer days spent on the injured list. Finally, you should also examine their helmet to see if there is any way it could be improved to better protect their head from injury.

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