Want to Improve Your Skating? Start With Edges

Derek Popke - Start with Edges Ice Hockey Skating Coach NHL Vancouver Canucks Burrows Higgins Tips and Drills

Derek Popke

Derek Popke is the founder and president of Vancouver Hockey School Ltd. As a hockey skating consultant, Popke has worked on-ice with the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-2014), ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings, BCHL Surrey Eagles and Penticton Vees, MML GV Canadians, and numerous minor hockey associations. In 2009, a record 19 players who skate with Popke were drafted in the WHL Bantam Draft. As one of the lower mainland’s most respected skating coaches, over 50 of Popke’s skating clients have been selected in the NHL draft in the past 7 years. His focus remains teaching balance, speed, and power with and without the puck. In 2012, he was named host of Minor Hockey Talk on Sportstalk CISL AM-650.

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Derek Popke works with NHLers Alexander Burrows and Chris Higgins on their Edgework

Simply put, edges are the most important aspect of hockey skating. Without good edge control, a player will continuously struggle to become an efficient and confident skater. Edges are used in all aspects of hockey skating including striding, crossovers, stops and starts, and glide turns. Becoming a superior skater all starts with exceptional edge control.

There are three basic edges – inside edge, outside edge, and flats. Players should focus on mastering the inside edge leading up to the outside edge. One of the best drills for learning the inside edge is known as “sculling”.

Sculling is a technique that is commonly used when learning inside edges.  Players start in the ready position (hips down, knees bent, and two hands on the stick) with their skates in a letter “V”. Players will then push their skates out simultaneously towards the outside (using their inside edges) and back to the middle (thereby creating a circle).  Players repeat this motion as they make their way down the ice. One common mistake in sculling is that players want to create power by “bopping” up and down. Players should keep the same knee bend and height during the entire drill.

Once the player is confident on the inside edges they are now ready to master the outside edge. As I noted in my previous article, the outside edge is the most challenging edge for players to learn. A great drill for learning the outside edge is known as “skiing”.

Inspire Connect Lead

Skiing involves players starting with their skates together (almost touching) in the stationary position. Using their knee bend and ankle flexion, players roll their ankles side to side to create forward momentum. Players should be using both the inside and outside edges simultaneously. The skater using the technique should emulate a slalom skier. Equal pressure should be on each skate when cutting into the ice.

ALL minor hockey practices should have a component focused strictly on edge control. 10 minutes of sculling and skiing drills at the beginning of each practice are a great way to get started. Remember: edges are the foundation to becoming an efficient and powerful skater.

Derek Popke is the president and owner of Vancouver Hockey School Ltd. He has worked on-ice with the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings, and numerous minor hockey associations. You can visit Derek’s camps at www.vancouverhockeyschool.com. You can also follow him on twitter and instagram @derek_popke.

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