Is there really a correct skating style?
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01-13-2012, 02:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Different players have different skating styles. Your body mechanics will likely dictate the "optimal" style for you.
Players can usually be viewed at in two lights:
1. The short, choppy stride. This player has feet that move quickly, but does not have a very long or particularly powerful stride. Guys like this almost look like they're running on the ice from time to time. This type of player is more likely to fit the "wide stance" model that people have described, where he isn't doing as long a push with each stride, but is moving his feet quicker. They might be more inclined towards standing high and narrow. A guy like Matt Duchene fits this profile very well.
2. The long, powerful stride. This player's stride is very long, but his feet don't move very quickly. It may not look like the player is skating very fast, but they're generating a lot of force with each stride and are able to reach very quick speeds. This type of player is more likely to fit the "narrow stance" model as described in this thread, where the player pulls his leg directly under himself on the stride recovery. They might be more inclined towards standing low and wide. Think of a guy like Sidney Crosby, who can dominate down low thanks to the power in his lower body, or a guy like Marian Gaborik.
A solid hockey player is a master of both styles. You'll be in situations where you need to take those quick strides to accelerate in a hurry or pick up momentum, and in situations where you need to push long and hard to hit top speed, or use that wide, low stance to protect the puck. I know it sounds crazy, but look at Ilya Kovalchuk. He's strong as an ox and can do things at blistering speed on the ice. When he needs to accelerate his legs go into overdrive and he picks up steam in a hurry, but when he's looking for power and balance he maintains a very long, powerful stride.
A number of factors can affect how you skate and how easily you can use both styles. Hip adductor strength and flexibility, quad strength, lower back tension, abdominal strength, squat depth, etc etc.
I personally lean towards that low stance with the powerful stride (my first 3 steps are terrible but I'm working on it) and I can tell you that, while I start upright, I'm usually bent over with my lower body almost parallel to the ice as I'm chugging off to the bench. My lower back muscles are OK but my abdominal muscles are very weak in comparison to my quads.
As for the arm swing forward/back vs left/right, I think it depends on your fulcrum point based on your skating style. If you are loose at the hips and stabilize at the core, the left/right stride will promote some hip swaying, which can help you generate more power. If you stabilize at the hips and rely more on your legs, the forward/backwards arm stride will keep you from wobbling side to side and help drive your legs backwards during your stride.
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