Quickness and foot speed are two major criteria that truly separate the better players from the rest of the pack when it comes to skating. The players who possess quickness and foot speed outshine their opponents at all levels of play.
The key ingredients to generating quickness and foot speed are balance, anticipation and, most importantly, leg strength. Most players who skate well have extremely powerful legs. This, along with a low center of gravity, helps them explode out of their starts faster than those with weaker legs.
Keep your knees and ankles bent forward in the ready or sit position. Place your stick out in front of you with the blade on the ice. Your head must be up at all times with your center of gravity low to the ice. This will create balance, power and a longer stride that in turn accomplishes the ultimate goal, which is speed.
The forward and crossover starts are two of the fastest ways to get out of the starting blocks. Stay low with your knees and ankles bent forward. Practice starting by using repetition drills in small areas. Try running stationary on the ice and then explode into a start. Also start out on your knees and get up quickly into a start. You can also try this on your back and stomach.
Acceleration is achieved by staying low in your skating stride. Create rhythm in your legs by completing each stride with proper recovery and don’t bob and weave. Do not change legs without full recovery or your stride will be choppy. This will slow you down and keep you off balance. The longer your stride the less energy you have to use up to get to the puck or an open space to create a scoring opportunity.
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Work on building your lower body, especially your thighs and calves. The stronger your legs, the more power you can generate in your skating stride.