There are notable differences in skating stride characteristics between elite and sub-elite skaters in both acceleration and steady-state phases of skating.

In the acceleration phase, elite skaters use a larger hip extension range of motion, and higher hip extension, hip abduction, and knee extension velocities.

In steady state skating, the elite skaters used a larger hip extension and hip abduction ROM, and greater hip abduction velocity.

In both phases of skating, the elite skaters push faster through a larger range of motion.

The key difference is that in the acceleration phase, the emphasis is on pushing “back”, and during steady state the emphasis is on pushing “out”.

Buckeridge et al. (2015) also noted that high caliber skates positioned their glide leg more under their body, whereas the low caliber group recovered to a wider stance.

While there are some nuances here, the two big take homes are that:

1) High caliber skaters adopt deeper skating positions, and push-off at higher velocities, resulting in longer, more powerful strides.

2) Initial acceleration is more of a sagittal plane dominant movement that relies on pushing back, while maximum speed skating relies on pushing out to the side.

From a training perspective, these simple concepts provide a framework to identify potential limiting factors to improving speed:

– Can the player get into the right positions to maximize acceleration and steady-state speed?

– Can the player create force (e.g. strength) and power out of deep positions (linearly for acceleration, laterally for maximum speed)?

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re interested in effective off-ice training programs specifically designed to improve speed, check out my new book Speed Training for Hockey.

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