One Little Thing That Can Make A Huge Differnce

 

What makes a hockey player great?  Carrying the puck from end to end and charging the opposing team’s goalie?  Handing out a massive hit that results in stoppage of play while body parts are picked up off the ice? 

Or having a huge slap shot that soars right past the goalie’s left ear in a rival game?  No doubt, these remarkable moments are the ones that players and spectators talk about for years. 

Decreasing your stop time is one little change that will make a huge impact on your game.

 

They leave a lasting memory because they are infrequent, and while these events are special, they don’t ensure a winning season.   It’s the little things that happen a lot, things that often go unnoticed, that make the biggest impact.  It’s also the little things that make those show-stopping events possible.  Little things like a lightning fast transition that allows you to reach the puck first, pass it to your teammate, who then gets the impressive breakaway.  The measure of a hockey player’s worth to his team isn’t in his few extraordinary moments, but the sum of all of his contributions, good or bad.

Little improvements in your skating can make a big difference.  One small fix that has the potential to have a large influence on your game performance is using both edges equally on your hockey stop.  

Can you stop on a dime?  Of course you can.  If you take a team of experienced players and ask them to skate full speed to the center line and come to a complete stop they won’t all get there at the same time but it’s almost guaranteed that each of them will stop exactly on the line.  That’s because players instinctively know how long it takes them to come to a stop.  The kinetic memory is set and players know exactly when to stop skating and when to start stopping. 

So what happens when a player skates just as fast as someone else but uses half as much time to stop?  He probably doesn’t even realize it, but he instinctively skates longer, making him faster in the game simply because he gets an extra step or two while the other guy is already slowing down.  Decreasing your stop time is one little change that will make a huge impact on your game because the number of times that you stop in a game is high.  If you’re ready to make the change, you’re just 3 steps away from faster stops.

Step 1
Face reality.  You may think you have good hockey stops but you won’t know for sure until you evaluate them and the best way to do that is to examine the evidence.  On a freshly zammed sheet of ice simply go full speed and stop.  Then step back and take a look.  What you should see is two thick, short, straight skids that are equal in length. 

• If you see just one skid then you’re probably only using your inside edge.  That’s the bad news, but the good news is that in two more steps you will cut your stop in half! 

• If you see one long skid and one short skid then you are probably engaging the outside edge late.

• If you see a long fat skid and a skinny wiggly one you might be dragging your back foot.
• If your skids aren’t even skids and aren’t straight but instead look like deep curves then you are likely turning, not stopping.  This is a typical error for former in-line players. 

Once you’ve taken a good hard look at your hockey stop, repeat the evaluation on the other side.
 
Step 2
It’s easy to add pressure and speed to a skid once you know how to control it so for all of these common errors the correction is the same, isolate each stopping edge and perfect it.  Get some speed then begin a slow controlled stop using just your right inside edge.  Hold it in a long, consistent line with just enough pressure that it takes you at least from blue line to blue line to come to a complete stop.  The skid must be straight and it can’t let up.  Repeat this exercise using your left inside edge, then your right outside edge, and finally your left outside edge.  Once you can hold long consistent slow skids on all 4 forward stopping edges keep the speed the same but cut the skid length in half, then in half again, etc. Practice isolating each skid until you can comfortably hold all four for long distances and also stop in a short distance at full speed on each one. 

Step 3
After you’ve mastered each skid you are ready to work on your hockey stops again.  Now that you are comfortable using all of your stopping edges you should see two, straight, short, equal thick skids and you will notice that your stop is significantly shorter than it used to be.  It won’t take long for your body to adjust to your new fast stops.  Before you know it, you will see significant changes to your game.

The difference between good and great in the game of hockey is measured not in seconds but in fractions of seconds, and the higher the level of competition the more microscopic the difference between good and great becomes.  When you have a chance to make something better, do it, no matter how little it seems, because all of those little moments will add up to a whole lot of greatness in the end!

With hundreds of students from mini-mites to the NHL, Wendy Marco is considered one of North America’s top hockey skating coaches.  Her DVD is loaded with original skating drills and on-ice games and can be found at www.ColdRushHockey.com.








 
Your No. 1 Source for Southern Hockey