Can Figure Skaters Really Teach Hockey Players?
There are certainly elements that are common to both figure skating and skating for hockey. With those elements that are common; I would not at all suggest that a person trained in the discipline of figure skating cannot help a hockey player. The difficulty is that there are vast differences in the skating requirements for each.
Let Me Try To Explain Some Elements Of
Figure skating has specific elements that differ from the skating requirements in hockey as a result of some very distinct and different objectives.
Figure skaters are putting on a show. They need to please the judges to achieve high marks in order to win a competition. Body lines are extremely important. The position of the head, the arms and extension of the leg to produce these lines create a different body position and attitude for skating.
In modern-day figure skating winning relies on spectacular jumps. Figure skaters are extraordinary athletes and if you ever watch a live performance you’ll be amazed at the impressive heights achieved in these jumps. Out of necessity, the figure skating boot comes high over the ankle with a lot of support to withstand the forces of landing a jump. Also, If you ever watch a figure skating exhibition you’ll also notice the big jumps are done usually from skating backwards.
In addition, the blades on figure skates have “picks” on the front to assist with digging into the ice primarily to assist with jumps.
On the Other Hand
Forget for a moment of the challenges of dealing with a stick and a puck, which I covered in a previous blog.
Hockey players are not putting on a show or display in any sense as described above when done by a figure skater in competition.
Hockey players do not do jumps. A hockey player not only wants, but needs to have his blades in contact with the ice to the maximum possible in order react to changes in action that occur in fractions of seconds. A hockey player doesn’t want to jump and leave contact with the ice unless it’s some kind of panic protective situation. Think about it; without contact with the ice you essentially have no control until you are back in contact with the ice. One very important point in teaching effective skating for hockey is maximizing contact with the blades on the ice; in other words, minimizing the time a skate blade is not in contact with the ice.
A hockey player is frequently making very quick and quite violent changes in direction in response to unscripted and ever-changing situations These reactions need to made in very small fractions of seconds. The key to these quick reactions is the free movement of the ankle in a couple of different and very important ways. Without these movements, quick changes in direction that need to be made in a split second just won’t happen efficiently. In hockey this is what gives you the ability beat your opponent or avoid getting creamed.
To Get Technical For A Moment – But This Is Important
To be the best hockey player you can be, you need to under stand how the ankle needs to work and how to make these movements and how to apply them.
First there is flexion and extension of the ankle. Dorsilfexion is the movement that brings the top of the foot closer to the shin and planter flexion is the movement of that points the toe and takes the top of the foot farther away from the shin. This motion of the ankle is essential for a hockey player. By allowing dorsilflexion a player loads up the ankle with maximum energy for an explosive change in direction and it’s the final release of the ankle by plantar flexion that can make the difference between beating your opponent or not or getting creamed. You hear a lot of coaches yelling for players to bend their knees. Dorsilfextion can be accomplished by keeping your “rear-end”close to the ice which will create a maximum bend in the knee. (The problem is most coaches don’t quite know what they’re doing and how to explain things. I think I may have cover this in detail in the next blog … this is important.)
Second there is inversion and eversion or rolling of the ankle. Eversion is the rolling of the ankle that moves the bottom of the foot to point away from the center of the body and inversion is the rolling that creates the opposite. This is the movement of the ankle that allows a skater to “grab” the ice. Think of it this way; if you were on skates and pointed your feet straight ahead and then did a kind of walking motion where each foot moved straight from front to back, then you wouldn’t go anywhere. There would be no “grab” of the ice. You need to grab the ice by rolling the ankle to apply bite and grip into the ice to get the most out of your skating stride.
It’s the combination of these actions of the ankle that is critical to being a great skater and a successful hockey player.
So Here’s The Important Point
While both disciplines involve the wearing of skates and skating, the end goals and therefore the process to achieve those goals is different.
Once again, a big part of figure skating is a show with pleasing body lines and form as well as spectacular jumps. Therefor the boot is laced high for support and naturally restricts the movement of the ankle that is so important in hockey. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a trained figure skater to learn about how the ankle must move to be a great skater for hockey; I’m just don’t think they would get this from their training for figure skating. Also there is the fact that just knowing about something doesn’t mean you know how to teach it, but that’s a whole other topic to be cover later.
Time now to end this part for now (this became a little linger than expected).
I’d love to hear from some figure skaters that train hockey players and I’m always open to learn something new.
Can Figure Skaters Really Teach Hockey Players?
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