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What makes Fedorov such a great skater

April 1, 2011 Hockey Tips, Players 2 Comments

By Robby Glantz


I was watching a Detroit Red Wings game recently and I was particularly focused on their star player, Sergei Fedorov. I was interested in trying to understand what makes him so dangerous and explosive on the ice. On might think that because Fedorov is just flat-out faster than everyone else, the opposing team simply has to give him room to operate.

However, what I have discovered is that while his straight-ahead speed is imposing (he regularly vies for the title of fastest skater at the NHL all star skills competition), it is actually the speed and fluidity with which he performs his lateral maneuvers that is perhaps his most lethal weapon. In fact, it is this fundamental that the Europeans, in general, seem to perform with much more regularity, speed and effectiveness than we do here. Therefore, this month’s column is dedicated to helping you improve your side-to-side moves.

Forward Lateral Moves
Forward lateral moves in games are used either to elude the defender or to keep them off balance. They can also be used when making a fake, or simply to generate more speed or momentum. Most players use the Crossover Technique to make a lateral move, which is accomplished by first crossing over to one side and then quickly back to the other.

Fundamentals: To improve your crossover lateral moves, it is important that you learn to take them to the side, rather than in a direct, straight line (of course, this does not mean that you simply go side-to-side. You still need to maintain your forward speed, as well). To accomplish this, you should try to think of this maneuver as having three separate parts.

The first part is the crossover maneuver itself, where the outside leg comes over the inside leg and begins to take your momentum to the side.

The second part is the crossing under, or pulling motion of the inside leg against the ice (forming the letter “C” with your legs), which should give you even more speed to the side.

The third part comes when you spring off the inside edge of your crossover foot (the outside foot) as far to the side as possible, landing on the inside edge of the other foot (the one that was pulling under the body). This third aspect of the maneuver will be the fundamental that you will most likely have trouble with. It is very difficult to center all of your body weight over the inside edge in order to get that power to jump to the side. And yet, this is a vital element of the lateral maneuver, and one that can only improve with plenty of practice.

Another excellent lateral maneuver is the side-to-side move without using a crossover, which I like to refer to as Lateral Jumps. This is a move at which the Russians, Finns and Swedes, in particular, excel. However, it is a fundamental that, over the years, has almost been ignored in North American training.

I had the opportunity to see the great Mats Naslund (now back with the Boston Bruins) perform this move up close when I coached him in skating techniques in Sweden last year. It is an incredibly effective move because the defenseman have no idea which way the skater intends to go. In fact, this move can often times work better than the crossover technique, because when you crossover you are fairly committed to going in the direction that you cross, while with the Lateral Jumps you can switch directions much more rapidly.

Fundamentals: To improve your lateral moves without the use of a crossover, you must gain the ability to center your weight directly over one foot—planted firmly on an inside edge—so that you can attain maximum thrust to the side from that pushing foot. For this move to be effective in a game situation, you should already have a good head of steam. (Of course, it is important that you practice this maneuver at slower speeds when first attempting it). You then quickly jump to the side from one inside edge to the other without losing that forward speed.

The first step of the Lateral Jump technique is to roll the ankle of your outside foot inward to grip the ice with a strong inside edge, centering all of your weight over it while bending at the knees. The second step is to then spring off of that foot as far to the side (not up!) as possible, landing on the inside edge of the other foot.

Wide Base vs. Narrow Base

When we talk about the Forward or Backward Stride, we often discuss how important it is that you start with your feet in a narrow base in relation to your body. That is because these are straight line maneuvers, and starting with your feet too wide will actually take your momentum to the side.

That is exactly the point we are trying to make with regard to the side-to-side moves discussed above. Which is to say, you should make sure that you jump to the side with your feet slightly outside your shoulder line; this gives you better balance, and the lateral mobility needed for generating speed when making explosive shifts and fakes out to the side.

Robby Glantz, power skating coach for the Los Angeles Kings, Swedish champions Malmö, and the German National Teams, conducts skating programs throughout North America and Europe.

This first appeared in the 05/1995 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2011 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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