4D Hockey’s State-of-the-Art Skating Treadmill
Welcome to “Saturday’s with Steve”, a weekly blog encapsulating everything 4D Hockey and beyond in the hockey world. This week, I’ll be going in-depth on our Skatemill. Our Skatemill is the first of its kind in North America and provides a plethora of benefits in terms of improving skating stride. The Skatemill debuted with the opening of the 4D Training Center (4DTC) and continues to serve as one of our calling cards, attracting players from North America and beyond.
While there are other Skatemill machines at other facilities, we take a different approach when it comes to training. Others may use the Skatemill purely for conditioning purposes, which is not bad but we like to take it a step further. We use our Skatemill to help players break down their stride and find the root of any issues that may be present. We use a progression system to ensure that players have the basics of the stride down before we get into working on the stride itself. Before we get into our progression on the Skatemill, I want to talk about our skating analysis.
When a player first comes into 4DTC, we want to get an idea of where the player is at with their stride. Every player is different and needs improvement in different areas, so our skating analysis provides us with the insight to create an action plan for the player for their future sessions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to skating, and we tailor the experience to each individual player. Below are some pictures of the process and what we see when deciding the best course of action moving forward to improve the skating stride.
Once we finish the analysis of the player, we get to work on developing a plan to improve their stride. As previously mentioned, we follow a progression when working to improve a player’s stride. The progression includes work on Stationary Balance, Dynamic Balance, and finally the Stride itself. There may be instances where we feel the player isn’t strong enough to work efficiently on the Skatemill, in which case we’d advise the player to do a few Off-Ice Strength and Conditioning sessions with Coach Dave to strengthen their base before getting back on the Skatemill. Now let me give you a brief overview of what a player can expect with our process on the Skatemill.
With most players, we will start with stationary balance. We want to ensure that the player is strong enough on their feet before we start focusing on the mechanics of the stride. This may include exercises such as holding a squat position and balancing on one leg. Players must be able to handle the simple things before we progress on to more difficult concepts, as skipping the basics will lead to sloppy mechanics later on down the line in the process. Once a player is strong on their skates in Stationary Balance positions, we will move on to drills involving keeping balance while moving.
The next step in our progression is maintaining balance while adding movement. This step is slightly more challenging and forces players to be strong on their edges and maintain correct mechanics while adding movement. Some exercises we use during this stage include sliding from side to side on the Skatemill on one leg and strong pushes from side to side. If a player has strong Stationary balance, they can usually pick up on this stage quicker.
The last step in the progression is working on the stride itself. Proper balance and mechanics are imperative in developing a solid stride. Once we feel the player has strong enough balance, we will move to work on their stride. We break down the stride and start the player on one leg, pushing only with one leg while ensuring their base leg stays strong underneath their body. Once we work both legs separately, we bring it all together to work on the stride as a whole, working both feet using a normal skating stride.
When a player has mastered our progression, we move on to more advanced drills and concepts. Not only can you work on your stride with our Skatemill, but you can also work on your shot. Players can bring their sticks and gloves and work on shooting while skating on the Skatemill. This can range from simple passing and shooting to more advanced techniques including backward skating, balancing on a decline, and drills using our Hockey Development Training System. With this system, we can work on concepts such as Peripheral Navigation and Shooting Navigation. This requires the player to keep their head up to make a play, whether it is a pass or a shot.
Lastly, the Skatemill can be used for conditioning purposes as well. As I said before, that is not our main focus and we usually don’t do any conditioning during the season as the player gets plenty of that with their team skates and workouts. During the summer, however, we will incorporate some conditioning into the plans of certain players. This ensures that they don’t lose a step when they go back to their teams in the fall.
Thanks for reading my blog post on our Skatemill. If this sounds like it could benefit you or your player, you can schedule a Skatemill session using the Upper Hand app here: SKATEMILL SESSION We hope to see you at 4DTC soon!
This blog will run weekly dropping every Saturday on the 4D website: www.bryceb8.sg-host.com. You can also find links to the blog on all of the 4D social accounts: @4dhockey. I’ll see you back next Saturday for the next blog, until then have a great week and train hard!