Skating Strength Training

Improve Your Backward Skating Stride With These 4 Exercises

Backward skating is an integral part of the game for any defenseman, and can help round out your game as a forward. Backward skating is a motion unlike many in sports, so training this skill can help minimize the risk of injury and help give you an edge over the competition. The backward skating stride requires strength and explosiveness to complete effectively, utilizing the combined motions of hip extension, abduction and internal rotation during the early stage and hip extension, adduction and external rotation near the end of the stride.

Improving Your Backward Skating Stride:

1: Reverse Diagonal Bounding

Reverse Diagonal Bounding is a great way to build up your hip strength and explosiveness for backward skating, especially during the first few strides. This exercise mimics the motion of backwards skating and is great for building a strong first step.

Start in a quarter squat position and shift your weight onto your right leg to load it. In one fluid motion, push through the ground explosively and propel your body backwards at a 45 degrees angle. Land softly on your left leg, absorbing the force by flexing through the ankle, knee and hip, ending in a loaded position on the left leg. Pause long enough to establish balance before repeating on the left leg. 

Bound backward for about 10 meters before resting. Complete this series 3-5 times per workout.

Reverese Diagonal Bounding is a great way to build up your explosiveness for backward skating and also serves as a great way to warm up before training.
  • Primary Movers: Quadriceps (knee extension), Glutes (hip extension and abduction)
  • Primary Stabilizers: Glutes (landing leg)
  • Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment Needed: None
  • Source of Resistance: Bodyweight
  • Exercise Focus: Explosiveness (power), Force absorption, Strength

2: C-Cuts with Banded Resistance

Banded resistance is a great way to improve your strength at end range, which is typically the weakest part of any movement. The resistance of the band will increase as you move further into the range of motion, forcing you to stabilize through your stance leg and generate force through your moving leg. The C-Cut motion of your moving leg closely resembles the on ice equivalent, so using this exercise during off ice sessions will help ensure a strong and uniform stride.

Start by standing in a half squat on your left leg, with your right leg slightly in front of you and a fixed resistance band around your right ankle. Begin moving your right leg in a semicircle, clockwise direction until it is directly behind you. Finish the movement by completing the opposite motion, a counter clockwise half circle until your right foot is in the starting position. Be sure to control the motion in both directions, do not let the band control the speed of your motion. 

Complete 3 sets of 8 on each leg, alternating legs between sets. 

C-Cuts with Banded Resistance is a great way to functionally improve your backward skating stride
  • Primary Movers: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Hip Adductors
  • Primary Stabilizers: Gluteus Medius (stance leg), Quadriceps (stance leg)
  • Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment Needed: Resistance Band
  • Source of Resistance: Bodyweight (stance leg), Resistance Band (moving leg)
  • Exercise Focus: Strength, Stability

3: Single Leg Squat with External Rotation Bias

Hockey is a series of one-legged movements. Very rarely will you have both feet solidly planted on the ice, and even more rarely will you use both feet to propel you at the same time (think jumping). This means we have to be very solid on one leg. Not only do we have to be able to stabilize while on a single leg, but we have to use the other leg to generate motion. This means we have to train on one leg to get used to being on one leg. That is where this single leg squat variation comes in.

Begin standing on your right leg with your left leg in slight hip and knee flexion. In a controlled manner, lower down to a full squat (thigh to 90 degrees) while simultaneously internally rotation your right hip (rotate your trunk towards your right hip). From this fully loaded position, begin raising yourself back up by extending your hip and straightening your knee, while at the same time externally rotating your hip (rotate your trunk from your hip to slightly past neutral). Be sure to fully engage your glute at the top of the movement to ensure your hip is in neutral or slight extension. Increase the difficulty with additional weight in the form of a dumbbell or kettlebell as appropriate.

Complete 3 sets of 8 on each leg, alternating legs between sets.

This single leg squat variation is excellent for building strength and challenging stability
  • Primary Movers: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hip External Rotators
  • Primary Stabilizers: Gluteus Medius
  • Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment: None; Optional: Kettlebell or Dumbell
  • Source of Resistance: Bodyweight; Optional: Kettlebell or Dumbell
  • Exercise Focus: Strength, Stability

4: Side Plank with Toe Taps

Side planks are a great way to build strength and stability. By combining a standard side plank isometric (no-movement) stabilization exercise, which can be quite taxing to the gluteus medius on the side closest to the ground, with a contralateral isotonic (moving) glute strengthening exercise you get twice the impact in half the time. 

Start in a standard side plank position with your right elbow on the ground, forearm perpendicular to your body, and ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and neck in a line. If the standard side plank position is too difficult, you can modify by bending your knees (shin and forearm parallel) and making your knees the primary point of contact instead of your feet. From the side plank position, lift your hips up off the ground, forming a straight line with your body. Lift your left leg approximately 8 inches off of your right leg. In a half circle motion, move your left foot in front of your body and tap your toe about 8 inches in front of your right foot. Then, using the same half circle motion, tap your left foot about 8 inches behind your right foot. A forward and backward tap constitutes 1 reps.

Complete 3 sets of 8 reps on each side, alternating sides between sets.

  • Primary Movers: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, TFL (moving leg)
  • Primary Stabilizers: Gluteus Medius, Transverse Abdominis, Multifidi (non-moving leg)
  • Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment: None
  • Source of Resistance: Bodyweight
  • Exercise Focus: Stability, Strength

Give these exercises a shot in your next workout or training program if you’re serious about improving your backward skating stride!

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