One size does not always fit all
Posted by Dean Holden at April 22nd, 2013
by Diane Ness, 16 April 2013
One of the best things about hockey is that a hockey team can be made up of many different types of players. Whether you’re a bigger skater or a smaller skater, everyone can bring something different to the table.
As a skating coach, I look at the hockey player’s ability to skate and the different types of skating styles. For this reason, we can’t paint all skaters with the same brush. What we consider an “elite skater” may be different from one skater to the next.
While talking with a scout about four years ago in New Jersey, he told me they had just drafted a phenomenal skater from Sweden by the name of Mattias Tedenby with their first round pick. Mattias is about 5-7 and maybe 175 pounds. He has a tremendous amount of quickness, explosiveness and agility. He is one of those skaters that is in constant motion and always has his feet moving. Agility and quickness was the name of his game.
I remember the scout saying he was an elite skater (which he was) just like Anaheim’s Scott Neidemeyer. I remember saying, “They are really nothing alike.” One is a defensman that really can slow the game down and is very efficient with his pushes and his stride. The other looks he’s been shot out of a cannon as soon as he steps on the ice. They are nothing alike but still are both considered elite skaters.
This is the great part about hockey – all skaters can come in different shapes and sizes but each may have something else to offer. When we look at a defensman like Ryan Suter or Paul Martin, we see a skater that will use an efficient stride or just a foot pump to move around the ice. This type of skater really excels in gliding while conserving energy. They make skating look so easy because they are so smooth with every skating skill they do. This is why when you see this type of skater sitting on the bench after a shift, they usually don’t look winded at all.
The other type of skater we are talking about is the Zach Parise or Danny Briere type. This type of skater lives off of quick starts and stops, explosive bursts and quick crossovers. The motor never seems to stop with both of these skaters and when they get back to the bench, they do need to catch their breath.
Those are four of some of the best skaters in the NHL today with completely different styles. However, the three common themes that are apparent in every skater still remains the same. Edge strength, balance and knee bend are always a must to a great skater … PERIOD. Those three attributes never change from skater to skater.
If you get a chance to watch video or Google some still shots of these guys skating, it would be worth your while. They are both great ways to emulate what ever type of skater you or you son or daughter would like to become.
Diane Ness has been a full-time professional skating coach for over 35 years. She has coached both figure skaters and hockey players alike and is a former U.S. gold medalist in figure skating. She is the Director for the Pro Edge Power hockey camps and the Learn to Skate program at Highland Park Arena. Ness is the skating coach for the New Jersey Devils, the University of Minnesota men’s and women’s hockey teams and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. She has trained players in the NHL, AHL, NCAA, USHL and NAHL.