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12-15-2007, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Check out Laura Stamm's Power Skating book. It goes through the basics of how to tie the skates (which is a lot more important and thorough than just "tight"), your outer and inner edges, where to keep your balance, how to do all the stops and crossovers, everything basically.
I started playing hockey at age 33 when my friend started renting ice weekly for pickup games. Aside from a few quick lessons he gave me that book was my #1 teacher.

If you want to play forward practice your balance, speed, turns (left and right) and stops (both sides). Best time to practice on your own is on a weekday when all the kids are at school (not during a school vacation!) and you have as much open ice as possible.

Drill #1: Do figure 8's to practice your turns. In one end of the rink skate around each face-off circle, the first one clockwise then the second one counterclockwise. After too much public skating you can get really good at left turns but can't turn right to save your life. As you gain balance and confidence try to tighten your turns so you're on the inside of each circle. Work on crossovers and using the edges of your skates for even tighter turns.

Drill #2: Skate from one blue line to the other, stop and come back. If you face the same direction on each stop you'll be using both your left and right side. It is important to know how to stop on either side. You always want to know where the puck is during a game. If you can only stop in one direction you're likely to turn your back on the play 50% of the time. This drill is also great for practicing your hockey starts. Like a sprinter you want to reach your top speed as quickly as possible. To get more traction put your feet in a \ / position. Lean forward and focus on using the inside edges of your blades. As you push off with your legs make sure you get full extension of your leg before bringing it forward again. As you prepare to stop, bend your knees to lower your center of gravity -- if you stand tall going into a stop you're more likely to fall forward. One last note is that the better your turns the better your stops will be. If you're falling a lot when stopping on your weak foot practice your turns.

If you prefer defense, practice your forward skating, your backward skating, and changing between the two. If you get comfortable enough you can try backwards figure 8's.

I can't say enough about practicing basic skating skills. Hockey moves so fast that most of what you do is automatic -- you stop to think, you're out of the play, you might even be flat on your butt. I used to fall every time the puck changed direction because I wasn't comfortable stopping. And if you can't stop well then you risk injury any time you race to the boards to play a puck or collide with another player.

One last note: Don't be too proud to wear protective gear when you practice. If you like you can wear a full hockey uniform (minus the stick) to an open skate. Get used to the extra weight you'll be lugging during a game. At the very least consider wearing a pair of knee pads. Bone bruises hurt for a long time, and if you develop a fear of falling you'll always try to skate within your limits -- that's going to really hinder your development.

Sorry for the long post -- I like to skate.

Last edited by EmptyNetter: 12-15-2007 at 12:53 PM.
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