The most important skill of hockey is skating. I preach this mainly to our youth teams just because they think that skating is boring and they really don’t get anything out of it especially doing power skating. I think they actually realize the benefit in the Bantam or high school years. The thing most hockey players as well as coaches don’t realize is that the skating never ends. Fundamental skating continues through the professional ranks. If you can’t skate it is hard to play and compete.
One thing I think all coaches should work on is to stop making skating a punishment. Some may disagree with this, but almost all youth players are brought up that skating is a bad thing. A player or team skate mainly because they did something wrong. If we could switch it to anything else such as pushups, sit ups, sprints in dryland training, I believe it will help the player’s in the long run with seeing the benefit of skating as they go through youth hockey. With my high school team we have our skating at the end of practices but we call is conditioning or exercise. This way it is perceived as a way to get better instead of punishing them. As coaches we know it is to benefit the team but from a player’s perspective half of them get it, half of them don’t.
Also keep emphasizing that no matter what level you play at you always work on skating. From power skating, stride length, edges, proper position, you name it they work on it. As always I would love feedback on this and believe as coaches we should exchange thoughts and ideas to help improve our coaching styles and habits. You can comment on the blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.