Facts and myths of power skating for hockey players

Many figure skaters are unqualified to be hockey skating coaches.

Power skating is a misunderstood form of performance enhancement.

Many skating coaches have no formal education in movement sciences, no certification to be a skating coach, and many coaches transition from being a figure skater to working with hockey players.

“Power skating” has been adapted from figure skaters. Many figure skaters are unqualified to be hockey skating coaches. Moreover, there are many misconceptions about the skills and drills used by power skating instructors.

Origin of power skating

Some say Laura Stamm was the first power skating instructor. In the 1970’s and 1980’s she worked with New York Islanders players in an attempt to improve their skating performance.

Power skating originated from figure skating. Power skating uses figure skating techniques and “tricks” in an attempt to improve the skating performance of hockey players. We still see power skating instructors using what used be called “compulsory figures” from figure skating.

Before 1991, high-level figure skaters had two components to their figure skating performance:

1. Compulsory figures

2. Freestyle skating

Compulsory figures have morphed into “edge work” for hockey players.

Efficacy of figure skaters being skating coaches for hockey players

An analogy to use when talking about figure skaters being skating coaches, specifically figure skaters being hired by NHL teams, is comparing the qualifications needed by skating coaches to those needed by strength and conditioning coaches.

Many NHL strength and conditioning coaches start their career as a graduate assistant or intern for a college athletic program. All NHL conditioning coaches must have an undergraduate degree. Most conditioning coaches are certified (certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association), and they have years of experience working with athletes before being hired by an NHL team. NHL skating coaches do not need a degree in any of the movement sciences such as kinesiology, biomechanics, and/or exercise science. Moreover, skating coaches do not need skating coach training nor do they need any certifications.

It appears the primary qualification figure skaters have to work with NHL players is that they were a competitive figure skater.

Many figure skaters are unqualified to be hockey skating coaches . . .



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  • I’m certain figure skaters can offer valuable recommendations to a certain segment of players at a given time of their development.

    Subsequently, I do agree there are momentous misconception in powerskating practice. What is vital, is to assess the inevitable added value the skating coach can offer its interlocutors; that being usually the experience or science based approach.

    Ascending in the digital era: communications enhancement, remotely instructional reel accessibility, tech advancement; it will be interesting to see the axes of differentiation in player development.

  • Martin Germain, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your interest in the article. I disagree in regard to figure skaters being able to offer useable information to hockey players. That would be like me saying I could offer valuable coaching to figure skaters. Thank again. Mike Bracko

  • Just curious when the last time was you came to watch one of the NHL Skating coaches that were in the past a figure skater and have you interviewed any directly?

  • Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your comment/question about the article.
    The last time I saw an NHL skating coach (in person) was when I saw David Pelletier work with some Oiler prospects the summer of 2019. I also saw Victor Kratz (although I think he’s not an NHL skating coach) in person at The Coaches Site Conference in Toronto 2019.
    I have not interviewed any of them directly.

Mike Bracko

Mike Bracko is a skating coach, skating researcher, strength & conditioning coach, and fitness educator. He holds a Doctorate degree in Exercise Science and Biomechanics and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach through the NSCA. He played hockey in the AJHL, BCHL and NCAA (University of Illinois-Chicago). He does skating clinics with 300–400 hockey players every year specializing in 1-on-1, small group, and team skating with male and female players ranging in age from 8 years old to pro players.  He is also the strength & conditioning coach for the USA Men’s Deaflympic hockey team. www.hockeyinstitute.org  [email protected]

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