How do you watch hockey? Do you scroll your phone and just watch the replay of the goals, saves, and big hits? Do you sit around with friends and just catch parts of the game here and there? Are you a diehard fan that can't miss a second of the action?
It doesn't really matter how intently you watch the game, one thing is very evident in hockey. The game is constantly changing - from players (and goalies!!) wearing no helmets, to the clutching and grabbing we have seen come and go, to the high pace game we see today - Now there is a new evolution in the sport. The way players skate!
It's easy to watch NHL games or highlights and pick out who some of the best players in the world are, such as Connor McDavid, Nathan McKinnon and Sidney Crosby, and see up and coming superstars like Matt Barzal and Brayden Point dominate games. What is it that makes these guys so good? Well, there are a number of things. They are the best in the world for a reason, and there is no doubt they have all spent countless hours perfecting their crafts, but there is one very simple common denominator in all these players - they are the best skaters in the world!
Now, as we talk about the game changing relating to these players being the best in the world, one might say that the best skaters have always been the best players. While there is definitely truth to this, and you do not need to look any farther then Bobby Orr going end to end seemingly every shift in the late 60's through the 70's to see that, one thing is apparent. The way these new superstars are skating is simply different.
Watch the following videos of Nathan Mckinnon and Connor McDavid and notice their body position as the fly down the ice. Both are incredibly powerful and efficient, using crossovers to generate speed, then consistently keeping there feet moving to maintain that speed as they move forward. One main thing that has changed in these top players is the body position in their "hockey stance." For years we have been taught to "sit in a chair" while we are skating in order to force us to have good knee bend, and keep our chest up. While we definitely want to be in a position similar to this, notice how McKinnon and McDavid are slightly more upright, their hips are forward and over their feet, and there weight is forward allowing there knees to extend over there toes. This is the position we want to be in to generate the most power possible and to always be in a position to move. We want to be low with good knee bend and our chest up, but if our hips and weight are set too far back we will be stuck in the ice and limiting our ability to maximize our speed.
Next time you are watching an NHL game check out the best skaters on the ice and see if you can notice this body position - and maybe some other concepts that set the elite apart - Then we you get on the ice try to put them to work for yourself and see how much faster you can be! Check back in with us soon for more tips like this to help you skate like the pros!