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Raw Speed vs. All-Around Skating

September 9, 2011 General 1 Comment

Raw speed vs. all-around skating
By Robby Glantz
Oct 30, 2001, 17:45


I mentioned to a few friends the other day how I thought the Kings were going to miss Luc Robitaille, now of the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of the guys responded by praising Luc’s scoring gifts, but tagging him as “a slow skater.” Now, being that Luc is one of the most prized students ever to be taught in our skating system, I took this comment quite personally. It seemed crazy to me that someone would criticize a player who scores 40 goals and 100 points every year and never misses any games—including playing on a broken foot.

The fact is that a player does not need to skate as fast as Eric Heiden to be considered an excellent hockey skater. Ice and roller hockey are not speed-skating contests, and our system puts equal emphasis on improving all the different techniques of hockey skating—not just developing straight-away speed. Robitaille, for example, does many things well on his skates that most fans never even notice.

To highlight the fact that you can still be tremendous hockey skater even without blinding speed, let’s look at the skating skills of three NHL superstars not commonly thought of as speed demons. They’re not the fastest, but they’re still among the best “skaters” in the league.


Luc Robitaille

So his straight-ahead speed is not that of a Paul Coffey. How is it, then, that Robitaille can constantly beat defenseman to the spot, putting himself in position to score? For starters, Luc has great balance and knee bend. And rather than going to the front of the net and standing on the flats of his skates, Luc always attempts to plant himself squarely and powerfully over his edges. He uses his edges masterfully (at the proper 45° angle) to grip the ice, and he is very tough to move.

One of the most underrated aspects of Luc’s game is also his work in the corners and along the boards. The next time you watch a Penguins game, focus on how Luc gets lower than the checker when scrapping for the puck. Try and see how he uses his edges when he is battling along the boards, rolling them deeply into the ice in order to ward off the defender and still make a play. And Luc uses his outside edges as well as anyone in the league; he can turn very quickly and has the ability to stop on a dime.

Jaromir Jagr

The great Czech winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins is what I would describe as deceptively fast. He doesn’t have to move his legs 1000 miles per hour to generate speed. Instead, he uses full extension on every stride and seems never to waste a push. Also, for a big player, Jagr is tremendously sturdy and has super balance. He accomplishes this by using proper techniques that most big players seem unwilling to attempt. That is, he keeps excellent knee bend throughout the game so he can best utilize his strong legs and, in turn, lower his center of gravity.

If you think back to Pittsburgh’s last Stanley Cup run, you undoubtedly remember some of Jagr’s dazzling plays and moves. In analyzing slow-motion videotape of Jagr, it’s amazing to see the strength of his ankles and how effectively he uses edges by putting all his body weight over them—driving around defenders and making them look as if they’re standing still.


Steve Yzerman

Yzerman, like Robitaille a constant subject of trade rumors, is also so consistent and strong over his skates that we tend to take his exceptional skills for granted. Yzerman can turn a defenseman inside out, perhaps better than anyone in the league. Whereas most players feel more comfortable going to their backhand, Yzerman is extremely strong at making his “skating” moves to the forehand. He has the great ability to make a tight turn on an extreme outside edge (halfway to the ice) and come out of it without losing any speed by crossing over and springing forward onto the inside edge of his toes. He gets that extra burst of acceleration, and manages to control the puck as well.

Yzerman also has the ability to shoot hard and accurately while going full speed. He keeps excellent body control, and uses his edges to drive off of, and then to land on during the follow-through—which is perfect shooting technique.


Speed: Not the name of the game

Hopefully, this brief illustration of the skills of some of the NHL’s superstars will help you understand that you don’t have to be the fastest player on your team to be an effective player. Likewise, while having flat-out speed is important, and certainly one of our goals, you don’t have to be the fastest skater to be the best “power skater.”

Work hard on all aspects of your skating, because each one is vital to the game. But don’t be surprised when you hear people calling the local talk shows and saying things like; “sure he scores a lot of points, but he doesn’t skate very fast.”

I’ll tell you this much—I’d sure like to skate as “slow” as these guys! l


Robby Glantz is an internationally certified Laura Stamm instructor. He is a power skating coach for the Los Angeles Kings, European champion Malmö, Sweden and the German National Teams. He conducts Power Skating schools for all levels throughout the U.S.

This first appeared in the 11/1994 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Anitra says:

    to reflect. For me 2011 was an action packed year! It began finding out my fah;sr&nbepthad prostate cancer and making plans to move back home to get him on a vegan diet. That followed 2 exciting

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