Is the young athlete in your life constantly complaining about not being able to skate fast enough? If so, you should know that structural imbalances are likely the cause. If your hockey player is a strong, well-trained skater and still can’t get up to speed, this is probably why.
Being “structurally balanced,” for a hockey player, means being balanced from the upper body to the lower body and from the right side to the left side. Across all of these areas, the skater should be equally strong, firm, and capable. When one part of the body isn’t as strong as the other or when one side of the body is stronger than the other, a structural imbalance exists. This can lead to problems with gaining speed when skating.
Fortunately, any good coach should be able to perform structural balance tests to determine where weaknesses lie. Watching a player perform squats, push ups, leg hops, step ups, or rotations with dumbbells are all easy ways to spot a structural imbalance and to pinpoint which area or areas of the body need to be worked to correct it.
While every hockey athlete is different, the most common structural imbalances among hockey players, due to how they use their bodies, include hamstring imbalances, core imbalance, rotator cuff imbalances, and quadricep imbalances.
Fortunately, once the problem has been pinpointed, it is typically easy to fix with the right training and exercise. So, if you think you spot a structural imbalance, talk to the hockey coach or even to a fitness trainer to learn the best way to correct it.
From there, a few weeks of sticking to a training routine should correct the problem and lead to speedier skating and better skill and control while on the ice.