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Is there really a correct skating style?

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01-10-2012, 09:36 PM
  #1
r3cc0s
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Is there really a correct skating style?

So today, I decided to go and take a quick briefing with a skating instructor who decomposed my skating stride/style and effectiveness...

in short, he wants me to have a constant deep knee bend, with legs wider apart even when not striding. Its like I'm hunched over ready to take a stride, even when I'm gliding and when I turn, my feet are wide and constantly apart like railroad tracks.

now, I get what he's saying... but I come from a different background where I still keep a knee bend, but will bring my feet almost all the way together... giving me a very long stridge to full extention, where as the way he wants me to skate are what I almost think are "abreviated" strides as my feet are well beyond my shoulder width.

based on just what he told me, and what I tried... I must admit, I feel more sturdy on the forward cross overs... it also works well for transitions and even backwards crossovers, though it takes alot more effort to recover the inside leg.

I dunno... I know this guy knows his skating, but so did my coach in the day, and is this "constant" churning of the legs and railroad wide legs really the right way to skate most effectively?

I was just hoping to get my strides stronger, where I can just push 3-4 times and be able to haul full speed into the opposing 1/3rd... not this

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01-10-2012, 09:58 PM
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nullterm
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I was also taught narrow feet in power skating for better maneuverability. Deep knee bend. Lean forward a bit, but chest and head looking forward.

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01-11-2012, 04:23 PM
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nyk16
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I have always been taught the opposite: ie, start with your feet close together which lengthens the stride. The longer the stride, the more time your skate has on the ice to generate power. What you are after is effortless power, not powerless effort.

I have coached rep hockey and have had a number of instructors in for the kids and they have all consistently taught that your feet have to start close together. I am currently taking a series of power skating lessons to improve my beer league play and, again, the message is to start with the feet closer together. It makes sense to me, and I have noticed an improvement.

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01-11-2012, 05:35 PM
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Stickmata
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Interesting discussion because this is something I've been struggling with. I had been taught that you bring the foot back under you; even power skating coaches I've seen teach getting that foot back under you and trying to get it flat on both edges for a better glide etc.

But...I notice that when I skate, if I bring my foot all the way back under me, I don't balance as well and I'm not as smooth. But when I keep my feet wider and don't bring them all the way in, I feel great; stronger and better balanced and I don't lose any speed. I've gotten to the point that whenever I have any feeling of balance problems, I simply bend knees more (roll my ankles forward actually) and widen my stance. I've concluded that either I've been bringing my feet toooo far back under me, or the reality is that you don't bring your skate all the way under. Based on watching video, I think it's the latter.

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01-11-2012, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r3cc0s View Post
So today, I decided to go and take a quick briefing with a skating instructor who decomposed my skating stride/style and effectiveness...

in short, he wants me to have a constant deep knee bend, with legs wider apart even when not striding. Its like I'm hunched over ready to take a stride, even when I'm gliding and when I turn, my feet are wide and constantly apart like railroad tracks.

now, I get what he's saying... but I come from a different background where I still keep a knee bend, but will bring my feet almost all the way together... giving me a very long stridge to full extention, where as the way he wants me to skate are what I almost think are "abreviated" strides as my feet are well beyond my shoulder width.

based on just what he told me, and what I tried... I must admit, I feel more sturdy on the forward cross overs... it also works well for transitions and even backwards crossovers, though it takes alot more effort to recover the inside leg.

I dunno... I know this guy knows his skating, but so did my coach in the day, and is this "constant" churning of the legs and railroad wide legs really the right way to skate most effectively?

I was just hoping to get my strides stronger, where I can just push 3-4 times and be able to haul full speed into the opposing 1/3rd... not this
Was he changing your style to be wider after you are up to full speed or all the time? It's fine to widen your feet and shorten your stride after you are up to speed, it will help with stability and you are just trying to maintain your speed. But from a standing start a longer stride will get you up to speed quicker unless you just have crazy strong quads.



Last edited by Steelhead16: 01-12-2012 at 01:53 PM.
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01-11-2012, 09:46 PM
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nolan91
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the instructor was likely just teaching you this style to get you in a more balanced position

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01-12-2012, 12:30 PM
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CornKicker
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the greatest skating instructor in the world is Mike Bracko out of Calgary, he actually has a doctorate degree in skating. he works with players all over north america and his teaching is basic and easy.......he basically takes the videos powerskaters teach and then compares them to the best of the best in the nhl and shows all the contradictions. he has broken down second by second and analyzed each player to give you a emphasis on what is important. I have been to 2 of his seminars and it has worked miracle in not only my own skating but the kids i coach as well.

Mike Bracko

http://www.filmbaby.com/films/5425

i know he used to have stuff on youtube but i cant check right now

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01-12-2012, 12:32 PM
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CornKicker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stickmata View Post
Interesting discussion because this is something I've been struggling with. I had been taught that you bring the foot back under you; even power skating coaches I've seen teach getting that foot back under you and trying to get it flat on both edges for a better glide etc.

But...I notice that when I skate, if I bring my foot all the way back under me, I don't balance as well and I'm not as smooth. But when I keep my feet wider and don't bring them all the way in, I feel great; stronger and better balanced and I don't lose any speed. I've gotten to the point that whenever I have any feeling of balance problems, I simply bend knees more (roll my ankles forward actually) and widen my stance. I've concluded that either I've been bringing my feet toooo far back under me, or the reality is that you don't bring your skate all the way under. Based on watching video, I think it's the latter.
this is the complete opposite of what you should be doing.

too many instructors teach pull the rope with your arms and push back. you should be swinging your arms side to side and push outwards to the side to build speed as well as maintain balance.

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01-12-2012, 06:28 PM
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Why not learn from the best, people who actually have or had some of the best skating:

From reading Pavel Bure's (for example) books, interviews, videos I think there is something to learn from players like him. He came to NA with good to great skating and worked on it further with his skating coach. Some of the keypoints I remember is him putting an emphasis on core muscles, and how a strong core will let you balance better = better technique. Is it possible to have a "good" technique with a weak core, weak leg muscles? It's definately harder.

Another one is Sprints. He used to just go outside and do a set of 10+ sprints every minute. Activating his fast-twitch fibers. I know we are talking about technique, but if your goal is to achieve top speed in 3-4 strides, technique is only part of the answer. So we can ask ourselves, are we doing ANY SPRINTS at all? Ever?

Just some food for thought when trying to become a faster, more efficient skater. Technique is important, but you have to have a good base to build it on.

I bet if you were to put an out of shape ex-NHLer, yes his technique will still be good, but his balance will be 'meh' and on the first cross over he'll get all wably. You see what I'm saying?

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01-12-2012, 07:56 PM
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Royal Canuck
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It really comes down to what you find comfortable and convienient. This is my first year playing player, and everyone says I skate like a mixture of Mason Raymond and Taylor Hall, I'm low to the ice, very hunched over and have a lot of arm motion. I just find that comfortable.

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01-12-2012, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r3cc0s View Post
in short, he wants me to have a constant deep knee bend, with legs wider apart even when not striding. Its like I'm hunched over ready to take a stride, even when I'm gliding and when I turn, my feet are wide and constantly apart like railroad tracks.
A wider stance gives you better balance and stability. Whens the last time you saw an NHL player with their feet together unless they were trying to block a shot?

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01-12-2012, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperSwede21 View Post
It really comes down to what you find comfortable and convienient. This is my first year playing player, and everyone says I skate like a mixture of Mason Raymond and Taylor Hall, I'm low to the ice, very hunched over and have a lot of arm motion. I just find that comfortable.
no it does not. comfort is secondary to performance.

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01-12-2012, 08:52 PM
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Tell that to me in a pair of top-of-the-line skates a size too short and too narrow.

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01-12-2012, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ArrogantOwl View Post
Tell that to me in a pair of top-of-the-line skates a size too short and too narrow.
apples and oranges. and your true skate size will almost always be painful at first.

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01-12-2012, 09:00 PM
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ArrogantOwl
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Most of the people on here aren't going to make a hockey career and are here to enjoy the game. You can't enjoy the game if you're in pain or uncomfortable. Extra performance is always wonderful, but not required.

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01-12-2012, 09:05 PM
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newfr4u
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Originally Posted by ArrogantOwl View Post
Most of the people on here aren't going to make a hockey career and are here to enjoy the game. You can't enjoy the game if you're in pain or uncomfortable. Extra performance is always wonderful, but not required.
getting better is getting out of your comfort zone. discomfort is not necessarily pain. and you are wrong about enjoyment as well.

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01-12-2012, 11:07 PM
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Badger36
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Originally Posted by newfr4u View Post
getting better is getting out of your comfort zone. discomfort is not necessarily pain. and you are wrong about enjoyment as well.
The rule of thumb is that skates should fit snugly but not cause discomfort or pain. Any skate shop will tell you that.

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01-13-2012, 12:34 AM
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newfr4u
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Originally Posted by Hawkey36 View Post
The rule of thumb is that skates should fit snugly but not cause discomfort or pain. Any skate shop will tell you that.
not the point. any newb will tell you snug will make your feet sore or pain a bit at first.

as for technique, comfortable isn't the point of skating. hockey skating technique promotes speed, stability, maneuverability. if you choose to skate comfortably over proper technique, you are missing out on performance. similarly to how hard you skate. comfortably doesn't cut it at any level. hmmm... maybe alumni games.

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01-13-2012, 09:06 AM
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Wilch
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Don't think having a wider stance helps balance. It shorts the stride a lot and wide or narrow you're on one foot when taking strides.

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01-13-2012, 09:51 AM
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r3cc0s
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilch View Post
Don't think having a wider stance helps balance. It shorts the stride a lot and wide or narrow you're on one foot when taking strides.
Yesterday I played a pretty high-level game of Shinny, with some serious talent and even a guy who plays for Abbotsford Heat and is in town as a "just in case" call-up

I was easily one of the worst on the ice, and I'm not a bad player (at least I could keep up skating, but once the puck touched my blade, I had to get rid of it as fast as possible)

Not one I noticed was skating as this power skating coach had wanted me to...

Yes, legs are wide when you want to protect the puck, keep stable... when making a pass, a shot, a deke and especially when you've already got to speed.

but keeping them wide constantly? Nah... and the stride... the keeping low thing is a good thing, it generate and promotes a longer extention and keeping weight centered and over the "driving leg" but most people's strides look like mine... brining the glide leg on recovery close to center.

The guy was explaining to me, that a partial recovery allows for quicker and constant accelleration, where you can keep powering even when "space" may not permit the time to bring your legs all the way back, and that as it is pretty much the same type of "action" as a forward crossover (kinda choppy and quick) that you develop a simular cadance and the transition into/out of a crossover with a puck keeps you more balanced

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01-13-2012, 10:18 AM
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nyk16
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This thread is vitally important IMO. Thanks to r3cc0s for starting it. We now have 2 conflicting theories:

1. The Laura Stamm method (that I have always been taught) - start with feet closer together, arms back and forth - see video posted by Steehead16

2. The Mike Bracko method - start with legs wider, arms side to side - see link here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrAAoE039Vk.

Skaters looking to improve need to know what they should be focussing on.

Both the Laura Stamm and the Mike Bracko website have testimonials, but interestingly, none from higher level hockey players/coaches that I could see. I personally feel that the Laura Stamm method is the right one. It just doesn't make sense to me that you can increase speed with a shorter stride. Then again, Mike Bracko's credentials are impressive.

Surely, there is a correct answer to this important debate?

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01-13-2012, 10:42 AM
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Stickmata
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CornKicker View Post
this is the complete opposite of what you should be doing.

too many instructors teach pull the rope with your arms and push back. you should be swinging your arms side to side and push outwards to the side to build speed as well as maintain balance.
Either you didn't understand what I was trying to say or I said it poorly. I wasn't talking about pushing to the side or to the back. Obviously I push to the side. What I was talking about was how far back under you do you return the skate. I've had power skating coaches talk about bringing it fully back under you so that a) you get a longer stride and b) you get the front skate flatter and get better glide than you do if you're more on the edge of the front skate. I've taken two different clinics where this was taught, yet when I actually watch the best skaters closely or in slo mo, they don't bring that foot back all the way under them, they actually stay wider than that.

To me, this is akin to the old saying in baseball about hitting - i.e., 'hit the top half of the baseball', which isn't meant literally. It's meant to be a thought trigger to make sure the hitter goes straight to the ball without dropping their hands below. You want dead square contact, but you get it by mentally thinking about keeping your hands high and hitting the top half of the ball.

The other thing I notice about skating that I constantly try to point out to my son to improve how strong he is on his skates, is how much time a strong player or pro player spends with his feet spread and on his inside edges. They are in that position the vast majority of the time on the ice. The amount of time a pro player spends up on his blades with either of his feet really under him is very small. It's really shocking when you really focus on it during a game.


Last edited by Stickmata: 01-13-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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01-13-2012, 12:14 PM
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that video is pretty insightful... and shows the merits of his style

and thinking about it, is "skating" a generic term, like running?

I mean there is a huge difference between a sprinter and a distance runner, and at the end of the day, their objectives are different yet simular... maximum output through maximizing effeciency

but effenciency is the key word...

trying the "wide" constant pushing style... is obviously more in line with sprinting and I found that I wasn't ever really gliding. It was definately found it more fatiguing, though perhaps "more stable" as your legs are under constant load. I did feel pretty strong pushing out of turns and especially when making crossovers with the puck... again as the distance your leg pushes outwards and the cadance is simular.

Perhaps one huge benefit is this, especially for those learning... because you're already wide, it kinda prevents you from exerting extra force upwards, where alot of beginners end up with that head bobble. I get it, every stride goes right into the ice, but every stride is unfortunately short IMO...

I find the "wide" style more like a constant sprint... running style, where you're pretty much just using a flat bladed toe start continually until you actually get to speed, rather than gliding.


top end faster? I don't know.. I have the heel to heel "click" style down to the point where I find maximizing the lenght of my glide to be much more effeicient than just powering through and when I have the puck and have a step on another player... I can hear his feet moving like mad, not catching up, while I'm just smoothly gliding towards the net.

"I think" a big benefit as well, is balance, again for those learning espeically... the heel click recovery "can" cause one to lose balance if lets say the puck gets lost at your feet inbetween your strides... as opposed to just widening your legs, slowing down to look for it, alot of newb' I've seen just stand up and lose balance.

maybe its faster accellerating to the top end, so I'll give it a couple more go's, but I think something has to be said about those smooth skaters who do skate heel to heel and can play those 25+ minutes without losing a step


Last edited by r3cc0s: 01-13-2012 at 12:24 PM.
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01-13-2012, 01:23 PM
  #24
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As others have stated, there is a current debate between the "Stamm" method and the "Bracko" method -- although naming it the "Bracko" method is giving him a bit too much credit. Stamm has been around for many years so power skating instructors are familiar with her techniques.

I personally think that Bracko is a fraud. I coach my team to bring their feet all the way back under. I do agree with Bracko in the sense that some of Stamm's techniques are impractical for hockey -- for example, the super long arm extensions are almost impossible to replicate in game situations.

If you watch speedskaters, you see that they bring their feet all the way under and actually start with the outside edge for leg extensions. Bure did the same thing so it does translate to hockey.

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01-13-2012, 02:12 PM
  #25
noobman
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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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