Skating Fridays

Lessons From a Hockey Guy

We figure skaters like to joke that hockey players aren’t real skaters. The ones that take basic (figure) skating skills are usually the ones that end up being better hockey players. They learn proper edges, turns and other fundamentals that are crucial to their sport.

There is an adult male skater (a former hockey player) that I see about once a week on public ice. He and I have become friendly, and we like to talk about what each of us is working on. I’ve noticed his nice spread eagles and decided to ask him about it this week since it’s an element that I have never been able to do. I’ve had a few coaches attempt to teach me, but nothing worked.

Hockey guy gave me a few really good tips that nobody else has ever told me about:

  1. You really need to open up your hips. A common mistake is that skaters try to open at the knees, but this will cause your rear to stick out. Similar to a layback spin, a skater must push forward at the hips.
  2. Your weight will not be evenly distributed. He said it’s different for every skater, but for him, he has about 60% of his weight on the front (leading) leg and 40% on the back leg.
  3. You will mostly glide near the heels. I always thought you glided on the middles of the blades, but I was wrong.
  4. “Frog” and “lotus” exercises (in yoga) will help you learn to open up those hips.

After he shared this knowledge with me, I attempted a few spread eagles. Big fail.

I came back to the rink the next day and lo and behold, a mini spread eagle appeared out of nowhere! I tried it again the next day and Hockey Guy’s coach came up to me and said that it has improved tenfold. I told her that it was because of the tips that Hockey Guy gave me.

Who would have known that a figure skater could learn skating skills from a hockey player? It’s very cool, and I’m sure I’ll pick up more tips from him!

Here is a video of my beginner spread eagle. It still has a ways to go, but it’s a pretty good start considering that I have never been able to do this before.


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