Without excellent skating you will not get through today!

illustration photo: Sporting News

Without excellent skating you will not get through today!

"Who is the fastest or best NHL skater?"

Hockey is believed to be the fastest team sport in the world.Not only many experts, but perhaps even more the fans, are looking for the answer to who is the fastest or best NHL skater. I have been hockey skating for several years but I have no clear answer. I found out that when saying the words "the fastest skater, the best skater" everyone has different ideas. Answers are sought through specialized tests, benchmarking or skill competitions. One such event took place at the January NHL Star Match in Los Angeles. We've seen many exciting and spectacular competitions, but only a fraction of the players are from the NHL. It is said that the best skaters are Finns or Swedes, the hardest in personal fights are Canadians or Americans, and the Russians have handy hands. I don't see it that way. I don't have a favorite country or team to look up to, I don't think it's good to copy some path, even though it looks to be the best. I watch how the "best of the best" do it, and that's what I try to do in my workouts. You need to be able to teach this to a particular player, and for this reason, we present our own work exclusively. Who knows how to talk about it today ...

Demonstration of skills transfer in the "first student" of our academy

I like the skating of Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane's "hands", Patrick Laine's shots, Sidney Crosby's personal fights or Alexander Ovechkin's scoring success. It doesn‘t matter that everyone is a different nationality. If we focus on skating, Mike Gartner, Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Sergei Fedorov have left a significant mark in the past and now they have been followed by players with complex skating skills such as Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane or youngsters who have advanced skating skills and speed to an even higher level - Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel or Dylan Larkin. Symbolically, I began to list the long-time record holders in the " fastest NHL skater " and ended up with a young man who broke this Gartner record last year.

Hockey skating is understood to be a complex skill in which the players react to the development of a situation and the movement of all players on the ice as they move through the game, putting them into time and space as well as body pressure. Then they adapt their skating. Each situation is unique and therefore it requires a very diverse set of skating skills. Therefore, skating cannot be understood in isolation, but in conjunction with game-thinking and decision-making depending on game development and the player's position. It is this mix of mastered skills that makes great skaters exceptional players.

Sample of our work from skating camps

If we focus only on skating and measurable things, we need to think about: What makes the fastest skaters really the fastest? Maximum or also end speed or instead explosive acceleration? And isn't that a combination of both? In particular, acceleration and maximum speed, sometimes also referred to as end speed, can be analyzed. Comparing these two parameters, general managers, experts, scouts and coaches put more emphasis on agility and acceleration. Typical high speed skaters are Carl Hagelin, Andrew Cogliano or Nathan MacKinnon, some of the most notable for acceleration being Ovechkin, McDavid, Erik Karlsson or Taylor Hall, who are not far behind the top speed, a combination which makes them even more dangerous. However, if we really want to compare and know the individual skating parameters, we have to test them carefully under the same conditions and here I am definitely in favor of electronically measured specialized tests that divide skating skills into smaller parts. Thanks to them, many things can be read.

Demonstration of testing by professional players

That is why, if I could choose something from each player, I would choose the individual parts as follows: efficient straight ride from Jack Eichel, the arc and acceleration in it by Connor McDavid, deceptive movement in an open skating step like Sidney Crosby, making space with a change of direction like Patrick Kane, back skating by Duncan Keith, a hunger for the puck and a start on it like Alexander Ovechkin, the reaction of Eric Karlsson's crossings or a lateral movement on the blue line by Mike Green. You say "but playing with the puck", what if we evaluate the guiding of the puck because isn´t skating associated with puck guidance an even more important parameter than movement without it?

The author of the text is the Head Coach of the Academy Jaromír Pytlík




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