When most hockey players think of improving their game, they often overlook the fundamental building block, skating. Young players especially spend their free time trying to perfect shoot out moves or fancy stick skills that they see on TV by people like Patrick Kane or Pavel Datsyuk. While this is well and good, players overlook the fact that the proper execution of these moves are dependent on special skating abilities.
In Bobby Orr’s new book, Orr, he touches upon the importance of skating.
“Some players just have efforts acceleration, a sort of fluidity that helps them maneuver out of trouble or get back into possible. There have been some great players who weren’t noted for their skating – some of the greatest ever. And there have been some beautiful skaters who’s hands never caught up to their feet. Still, it was a huge compliment to be told I could skate. Its part of the game that hasn’t changed to this day, because skating has been and always will be the main ingredient for any hockey player’s success.” – Bobby Orr
The Pertti Hasanen Hockey Academy puts a lot of emphasis on improving a player’s skating. One of the techniques we incorporate into our system is the Open Hip. This is when a player can pivot his or her skates into an almost “V” position while maintaining speed and direction. The open hip move is very useful in helping to confuse pick up speed and confuse a defender. It can also help a player maneuver through tight areas.
Here we can see Boston Bruin’s forward Ryan Spooner utilize the open hip during a rush against Nashville. He first displays an open hip when looking for a breakout pass in the D-Zone. As he rushes up the ice and crosses the blue line, you can see him open up subtly enough to trick the defensemen into thinking he was going to pull up at the blue line and make a pass. However, Spooner keeps his forward progress, opens up one more time, causing the defensemen to move his stick into a high shooting lane. Again, he keeps moving forward and finds a seam in the low shooting lane for a beautiful finish from Soderberg.
These very subtle moves can be the difference between creating offense or turning the puck over. The Bruins’ coaches have been very vocal with Spooner’s ability to create offense, citing that as one of the skills all GREAT players have. Mastering the Open Hip skating technique can help you create offense and take your game to the next level!