“How could you teach skating without dryland training?”
Posted by Dean Holden at December 16th, 2013
by Jack Blatherwick, 12 December 2013
Train your legs like your career depends on it, because it does!
It’s been about a decade since the best junior speedskaters from around the world competed at the Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval in Roseville, and they will be back this winter on Jan. 19-20. Hockey coaches and players who attend – for a couple hours, anyway – will come away with constructive thoughts to improve skating.
The first thing you’ll see is the incredible lower body muscular development. You’d see similar legs on every NHL team, and I share a word of advice from Alex Ovechkin: “No one is good player without huge legs and (butt).”
Or from Herb Brooks, “The legs feed the wolf.”
What you won’t see at the speedskating championships is how intelligently they train. I’ve watched many dryland speedskating workouts (Russians, Finns, Swedes and Americans) and within five minutes it is obvious they are becoming better skaters. I’ve also watched American college hockey players work out, and never once was it as apparent (as with speedskaters) that they were training their legs for skating.
At the Roseville competition, I met for a couple hours with Mike Crowe, a long-time US Speedskating coach, who for the past few years has transferred his allegiance and knowledge to the Canadian team. Notice in this time their speedskaters have performed incredibly well (2010 Olympics in Vancouver and World Championships in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13).
Crowe’s impact on skating is legendary, and dryland skating exercises used around the world have been named for him – “Crowes.” These are a combination of postural and explosive movements that look just like skating. I asked the coach if he would ever consider teaching skating at any age without dryland training.
Silence. More silence while he stared a hole through me, and I wondered if I forgot to wipe breakfast off my face. Then he asked, “How could you teach skating without dryland training?”
He went on with elevated passion as he got up to demonstrate, “You have to practice the kinesthetic feelings thousands of times. You have to repeat the feeling of applying force, from one leg through your center of gravity. That’s the key to powerful skating. There is no speedskating coach in the world who would teach skating without dryland training. It’s not possible.”
I wonder how it’s possible in hockey?
More on this next week.
<I agree with Mike Crowe and Jack – hockey players should borrow this knowledge from the speedskating community as it brings great benefits.I wish I had known about this back when I was playing competitively as this training would have been much better than the Gold’s Gym bodybuilder-designed workout plan I was on… but proper information was hard to come by when you are a teenager in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s!
Reading this article made me reflect back to 1990-1991, when physiotherapist James Gattinger and I created the Hockey Canada Summer Training Program for participants aged 14 to pro. We designed it to include ice time as well as various aspects of off-ice. Off-ice included a strenuous speed skater-designed series of movements by Tony Meibock, a former US Olympic speed skater turned coach. I suspect Tony borrowed much of these from another notable US Speed skater, Eric Heiden. I had experienced ‘Heiden’s’ previously, and boy were these tough! I felt they positively contributed to my leg strength, the ability to allow my core to deliver all that strength effectively, as well as building better agility, balance and coordination. Did I mention how TOUGH these were, when done properly? We did a lot of these motions at slow speed (‘under speed’) which required apt mental focus and physical determination to see them through properly.
It paid off later while leading the program, because we had to deliver (demo) four of these classes daily, five times per week, over the entire summer; on top of our other daily sessions off-ice (SAG’s) and on-ice! Talk about getting into shape! James and I trained for two months before leading the class for two months. I will never forget how tough it was – physically and mentally – and how much I improved personally that summer! Thanks to James, Tony and indirectly, Eric! I look forward to reading more of Jack’s thoughts on this subject… stay tuned! – DH>