By Vanessa Hettinger, Master Instructor, Quantum Speed
Is it ever possible to recover from the label “BAD SKATER”?
Players, parents, coaches and scouts have often asked us if it’s realistic to change a person’s skating after they’ve skated a certain way for hours and hours of practice throughout their careers. So - when is a player’s skating too engrained to change?
In our experience, there are three main factors that will determine the probability of a player improving his or her skating – at any age:
While motivation is different for everyone, free agency, frustration and finances seem to be recurring sources of motivation for our clients. Competition is fierce amongst players and every advantage helps. Players are realizing that skating is an aspect of their game that, when improved, can have a huge return on their investment. Training their skating in the off-season can give them the extra step that they need to bring them up to the level they aspire to, and can even lengthen their careers.
Players are often labelled prior to the Bantam Draft at 13 and 14 years old, but great scouts recognize that a lot can change in the next few years. Players experience a pivotal grown spurt between 13 and 17 years old (13-15 in girls and 14-17 in boys). It is during this time that players often are criticized for being ‘awkward’ or ‘clumsy’. These words are music to our ears as this is an ideal time to re-train skating! At this time, players are smart enough and strong enough to understand the Skate-Trix that we teach, and their bodies are at a perfect stage to train movement and agility. It is also a perfect time to begin the process of “training to train”. Helping players to understand training can represent a huge shift in their development and can have a major impact on their general fitness in addition to their future in the game of hockey.
Players who are in great shape and have a good understanding of how their body moves have the ability to make changes in their skating in a huge way! Often, we will give a player a skill or a drill that identifies a weakness or imbalance in their skating. Great athletes understand their bodies so well that they require a few tips and tricks to fix the imbalance and to make effective and efficient changes. This is why even the pros continue to come back year after year – they understand that as a high level athlete it is their responsibility to stay a “step ahead”.
At Quantum Speed our intention is to discover what good hockey players already do well and then to tailor their skating style around their strengths. Actually, if you’ve ever wondered where the name “Quantum Speed” came from, it actually implies “the smallest possible change to achieve the biggest possible result”. This is exactly what we see with great athletes – small changes get HUGE results.