Hello to all of our hockey friends and welcome back to the second post of The Empower LEDGER. We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe as we remain quarantined to our houses. We don’t know about you, but we're ready to get back on the ice with all of our skaters and can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces! With everyone being off the ice for so long, we thought it would be nice to continue this ledger as a way of getting our hockey minds going again.
Our first post talked about the eight edges a skater has and the primary importance of the forward inside and outside edges. Now, what about the back edges? As a figure skater, I always loved skating backward and using my back edges to build speed. In the hockey world, I can’t express how important skating backwards is for all players, especially if you want to be a standout defenseman. Being able to transition from forward-to-backward and backward-to-forward takes incredible balance, edge agility and proper upper body mechanics and movement. Learning and practicing your back outside and inside edges on BOTH feet at a young age will give your player the skill set they need to execute their backward skating and transitions with power, stability and confidence.
Starting off by practicing basic back outside and inside edge work is the best way to build these skills. Doing simple backward swizzles, as we discussed in our first blog post, is a great way of introducing back inside edges to any skater. The “toe to heel” pulling motion gives the skater the feeling of the back running edge, while learning to balance by keeping their back and head up properly. Building on that is the most fun!
Creating half circles on one foot (“C”-cuts) will help the skater understand how their upper body helps to create the movement of their lower body. I often use the analogy, “pretend your shoulders are a steering wheel and your skates are your tires.” In time, the skater will be able to combine the movement of their upper body with their edges and lower body, which will give them what? That would be POWER! When it comes down to it, your power will only be as strong as your edge and upper body command.
We hope you found this post helpful and insightful. We miss all of you terribly and can’t wait to see all of you very soon!
We are excited to bring you the first entry of Empower Hockey’s blog - THE EMPOWER LEDGER! The purpose of this blog is to share our mission and vision, as well as to educate our skaters, parents and coaches on the skills that we will be working on during class. Understanding the importance of these techniques will make their time on the ice more productive.
Many times I’ll ask my skaters questions just to see how much edge knowledge they have. One of my favorite questions is, “how many edges in total do you have?” The answer is EIGHT!
There are four edges on each foot: forward inside, forward outside, as well as back inside and outside. Multiply that by two feet and you get eight. Our long-term goal with our skaters is to make sure that they are strong and agile on ALL eight of their edges. This will make them strong overall skaters in the long run.
For today, we’d like to talk about forward edges and their main importance. I start my skaters off with a very basic exercise to target their forward inside edges. This exercise is a simple swizzle (or heel toe touch). This not only warms up the inside part of the blade, but also wakes up and activates the skater’s leg muscles and ankle flexion. To make it a bit more challenging for the skater, we’ll have them roll to the outside edge as their toes reconnect.
I find the outside is a very difficult edge for hockey players to master because from the start of their skating careers, it’s not used as much as their inside edges. The inside edge is their primary pushing edge and it is used all the time. Here’s a question for skaters - “what are two reasons your forward outside edge is so important?”
One reason is that it is the edge that leads you through any tight / power turn. If that outside edge is weak, you won’t have the proper command needed to carry you through any turning situation that may come up in a game. Being able to navigate and attack turns with confidence is not only important for the skater’s game, but also for their safety. Being able to maneuver and turn around other skaters allows you the ability to not get hit or checked into the boards. This is so important in keeping our skaters safe and concussion free.
The second reason is that it’s the second push of a forward crossover. Not having a strong outside edge as your foot crosses under the other one can cause the skater to lose balance, power and speed.
Thanks for reading and we hope you found this post notable and informative. Next time we will focus on the importance of the back inside and outside edge. We can’t wait to get back on the ice to work on these techniques! Until then, stay safe and healthy!