It has long been believed that a short stride is superior to a long stride because the feet are moving more frequently, the skater appears to be working harder and therefore must be going faster. This, unfortunately, is a faulty logic. Let me explain….
The LENGTH of the stride is significantly more important than the frequency, for a more efficient stride and to maximize speed.
A good long stride for hockey is made up of three key movements, coordinated to engage the muscles in your lower body to ensure maximum efficiency of a stride;
1) Proper knee bend in the glide leg
2) Full knee extension in the stride leg
3) Full plantar flexion of the stride leg
The efficiency of a stride is directly correlated to the time that the blade is on the ice. The longer the blade is in contact with the ice (pushing downward through the back middle of the blade, activating edge change and more edge for the push, extending right to the toe at the end of the stride for the toe flick), the more kinetic energy that is built up, which creates a greater push forward.
If a skater is using short strides, the blade has limited contact with the ice, there is generally less knee bend, less balance, less muscle activation and therefore less power, equating to a less efficient stride, more energy used and ultimately less speed.
Long strides ensure that the essential muscles in the legs are engaging; a proper knee bend engages the hamstrings and quads, full knee extension engages the glutes and quads, and plantar flexion (pointing the toe) fires up the calf muscles, all of which lead to greater power and maximum efficiency of the stride.
A long stride = a more efficient stride = conservation of energy =
a greater potential to maximize speed
All that being said, while playing a hockey game you must be able to make use of a long & short stride. A great advantage of having a mindfully engrained long stride is that it can be shortened at will!
Keep skating! Have fun and keep getting better.
Director & Head Coach
The PowerSkating Academy is a one-of-a-kind power skating school in the Toronto and Greater Toronto Area. If you have any questions about this topic or any other skating-related questions, feel free to reach out to us through the website, Facebook or Instagram.