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Proper balance aids stability and speed on skates

This is an excerpt from Laura Stamm's Power Skating - 4th Edition by Laura Stamm.

Balance on the Flats of the Blades-
Skating Forward

In certain situations, players must glide forward on the flats of the blades-for example, when the play stops and players coast to a face-off circle. Here are some guidelines to follow when gliding forward on the flats of both blades:

1. Hold your skates about shoulder-width apart and bend your knees. In this position, you are stable and you can prepare to push off and skate forward.

2. Hold your shoulders back. Maintain a vertical upper body position; use your back muscles to keep your back straight. Look straight ahead and keep your head and eyes up (figure 2.2). Slumping or looking down results in a loss of balance because it causes your body weight to pitch forward over the curved toes of the blades (figure 2.3, a-b). Holding the upper body still is critical for balance and control in skating.

3. Keep your body weight on the back halves (middle to heels) of the blades.

4. Keep the skate blades in full contact with the ice. If you lift your heels off the ice, your weight will pitch forward over the curved toes of the blades. Never lean on your stick for balance or support. It is not a crutch or a third leg!

Balance on the Flats of the Blades-
Skating Backward

The rules for forward balance on two skates also apply to backward balance; however, when skating backward, your body weight must be on the front halves (middle to front) of the blades-but not on the curved toes. Do not lean back. If your weight is over or behind the heels, you may fall over backward.

Balance on Two Skates on the Inside Edges

When gliding slowly forward or backward (i.e., to wait for a play or pass), keep the skates somewhat wider apart than your shoulders, with your knees flexed and both skates on the inside edges (figure 2.4). This stance provides excellent stability and thus is called the ready or stable position. You are prepared to move laterally, fake, check, or take a check. You are also prepared to push off and skate straight forward or straight backward. All you need to do is shift your weight onto the pushing skate and thrust off.

The more you dig in the inside edges and bend your knees, the more traction you will get into the ice, and the more stable you will be. If you are about to be checked and do not have time to do anything else, widen your stance, dig in the inside edges, and bend your knees as much as possible. In this position, you'll be much tougher to knock down.

Goalies almost always stand on the inside edges. Having good balance on the inside edges and knowing how to use these edges are extremely important skills for netminders.

Note: When a player is in the ready position, even minimal use of the inside edges is more beneficial than being on the flats of the blades.

This is an excerpt from Laura Stamm's Power Skating, Fourth Edition.

More Excerpts From Laura Stamm's Power Skating 4th Edition