For those of you who don’t know, my name is Dave Levtov and I have this blog to help, educate and make you think. I grew up playing hockey and music throughout junior high and high school. My minor hockey coaches kept telling me to “try harder”, “go faster” and “I hope you grow”. That didn’t allow me to hone my skills in team practices; most of my learning was done on a D.I.Y. backyard rink. However, in music, I had incredible teachers who gave great technical lessons that educated and inspired me. As a result, I became a professional musician. In early adulthood, I was exposed to elite figure skating where a light bulb turned on. I saw the direct correlation between hockey skating and figure skating. PowerSkating Academy was formed as a conglomerate of hockey skating, figure skating, music study and performance, functional movement, and proprioception.
Let’s first agree on one thing: hockey is a game of sprints. If both teams are equal in skill but one team is faster, the faster team will have the advantage. Because fast skating is so effective in hockey, I’ve had numerous parents come up to me saying:
“Why are they skating so slow? You can’t get faster by skating slow, they need to be skating faster!”
“My son/daughter can do that already, why isn’t he/she being moved up in skill levels?”
“This doesn’t look like a real hockey practice.”
And to that, I have to say yes. Yes, we teach skills at a slow pace, yes, your kid can do that skill, and yes, this doesn’t look like a “typical” hockey practice, but these answers aren’t interview answers, they’re things we ACTUALLY believe in.
Like many great teachers, I take core concepts from other avenues and implement it into my hockey school. For example, when you’re learning how to play a new song on guitar, would you try to play the song full speed, or would you take it slow? Learning new skills slowly allows for you to create good habits. In turn the repetition of these “good habits” over time create a neural pathway from our brain to our muscles allowing for what people call “muscle memory”. The problem when you want to always skate fast–even in practice–is that it produces a multitude of errors in the beginning – technique, posture, timing, etc. Even if you start correcting some errors, new compensation errors will inevitably pop-up, making you less efficient. Our goal at PSA is to solidify a strong foundation in your muscle memory, so that you can continually build upon that skill and use it in a game with confidence whenever you need!
Well, now you’re saying your son/daughter can already do that skill, and yes, he/she has learned that skill but it’s not to our satisfaction (we are very picky). Let’s use a tight turn as an example: aside from the little ones, the majority of hockey/ringette players can turn around a pylon and stay on two feet. That might be good enough for some people, but we’re different; our coaches look for a couple key things during the turn:
Are they on both feet? Is one foot on an inside edge and the other on an outside edge? Where is their weight during the turn? How is their posture? Are their knees bent and in front of their toes? What is their head looking at? Where is their stick and what is it doing? Are they accelerating or decelerating through the turn?
A lot of younger students have strong inside edges, but struggle on their outside edge. A weak outside edge will hurt you when you do more complex movements like a cross-over. During a cross-over, it is important that skaters are using both their inside and outside edges effectively to generate the most amount of power. We would love to promote your son/daughter to a higher level, but we want to see them become more of a well-rounded skater first!
As for the elephant in the room, our practice doesn’t look like other practices. You’re correct! We pride ourselves in technical lessons, where information can be disseminated in 3 different ways: audibly, visually, and using physical manipulation. We manipulate your body into the correct technique to kick start your muscle memory! Once you master the skill at slow speeds, we will test you with higher paced drills. We also understand the importance of edge control. Being able to use your whole blade – front inside edge, front outside edge, back inside edge, back outside edge and the flat – will provide you with more power, balance, and agility! Thus, we dedicate 20 minutes on edge work, whether that’s using figures or specific patterns.
With that being said, we want to see your son/daughter succeed and we believe that a deliberate, focused, hands-on, technical lesson with an emphasis on edges is the best way of doing so. Hopefully this helps you understand how we operate! As with any post, if you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram or Facebook!
See you on the ice!