Even more than most other sports, hockey is a game of angles. How efficient you are as a skater and player is determined by how well you manage those angles. To illustrate my point, with an example from another popular sport, consider a cyclist cornering at a high rate of speed. As the cyclist enters the corner and begins to turn, they must lean their body, and their bike, inward against the forces that are trying to carry them straight forward. At the tightest part of the turn, the rider’s body and the bike must be leaning inward on the same angle to maximize turning efficiency. Now consider what would happen to that rider if, at the apex of the turn, they suddenly leaned their body outward. I think its safe to assume the rider and bike would flip outside the curve and crash.
As a hockey player, your body is subject to these same forces every time you change directions or corner while on your skates. During the lateral change of direction with your skating stride, to carving around a corner, it’s important to make sure your body is in the best position possible to maximize movement efficiency, speed and strength. If any part of your body slides or collapses outside of it’s optimal alignment, energy and stability are lost.
One simple drill to begin training your body for efficient movement is lateral bounding, with control. This can be done side-to-side on the spot or traveling forward in a zig-zag pattern as shown in the attached video. The focus should be on maintaining a compact, neutral body alignment during the transitions. The angle of the spine should parallel the angle of the leg, with the pelvis and shoulders at parallel angles that are perpendicular to the spine.
It’s best to perform this drill in front of a mirror so you can watch your body mechanics. If you notice your hips sliding too far outside your landing foot, it’s likely your glute muscles aren’t doing their job. If your upper body and torso lean outward when you land, or wobble around too much on top of your pelvis, you probably need to focus on improved core activation for spinal stability.
–Rob Williams is a kinesiologist, elite personal trainer and posture specialist. He has been practicing for 20 years and currently operates an exclusive private training studio Mixx Fitness Studio, with a team of 10 trainers, as well as a multi-disciplinary posture facility, Performance Posture Clinic. Rob is an accomplished writer and speaker in the fields of fitness, posture and nutrition. He is a sought-after posture and performance coach for professional and amateur athletes and celebrities.