I recently spoke with Courtney King of courtneykinghockey.com and asked her about the number one thing that would improve your child’s skating. Here is our conversation.
Karen: “Courtney, if I asked you if there was one thing a skater could do to improve their skating, what would that be?”
Courtney: “Take a dance class. It’s body awareness. You need to know what your body is actually doing. Something like ballet is all about balance, core strength, and articulating your movements to the fullest."
Karen: “Does it matter what type of dance?”
Courtney: “Not really. Just anything that’s going to get you in front of a mirror. You need to be able to see how your body is working. That’s when you realize ‘OH! I’m completely shortening this movement’ or ‘Wow, I thought my leg was straight.’
“Kobe Bryant took tap classes to strengthen his weak ankles and use his feet and body better. If it was good enough for Kobe, it’s definitely good enough for anyone.”
Karen: “What is the benefit of this for a skater?”
Courtney: “One of the things a skater needs to learn to do is articulate all the way through their feet. That’s where that dance training is helpful. The stride movement starts in the hip and glutes and fires all the way down your leg all the THROUGH to your toes. You have to articulate not to your foot but through your foot. The more powerful you become in that movement, the better your posture, and alignment and you will gain speed and efficiency on the ice.”
“If you’re not fully articulating your stride, you’re losing power and wasting energy. You’re like a bike in high gear on the flat. Going nowhere fast.”
Karen: “We talked briefly about feelings and how the mental aspect is important to. How does what’s going on in the skaters mind impact on their skating ability?”
Courtney: “Ultimately a skater should never have to think about skating. What I want for my students is for them to never think about their skating in a game. I want them to get to the point where they just know. They know they can get in and out of any situation. I push my skaters to do complex edge work, not because I think they’re going to bust a three point turn in a game, but because I want them to know they can do all those really hard skills, they have that kind of control, they do not have to worry about skating. I want to set them free to just play."
“Fast, efficient, powerful skating is built upon a foundation of strength, pliability, body awareness and control..”
Karen: “Is this what you teach skaters?”
Courtney: “Yes. I think of myself as more of an efficiency coach than a “power skating coach” cause I’m trying to guide players to clean up their technique, stop wasting movement, and get the full benefit of the effort they put in."
“Let me circle back and say, dance class...it’ll help.”
Courtney and I spoke also about how feelings and the thoughts that run through a hockey players head impact their ability to skate, and play to their best. Being able to skate well, just as playing the actual game IS impacted by what is going on in the thought process.
Self-belief and self-confidence are the key to doing anything well. Anything you, as a parent can do to support your child to improve this aspect of themselves will benefit them for life.
Courtney is available to teach hockey players, either in person or online. Contact Courtney via her website.