Pro Stride skating clinics fine-tune players’ form in preseason
Analyzing skating form and technique is key to developing a more efficient and effective hockey player, as members of Liberty University’s Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams learned during a three-day power skating clinic held Aug. 25-27 at the LaHaye Ice Center.
As the week of tryouts concluded, players sharpened their skating skills and advanced their games under supervision from Pro Stride power skating coaches Angelo Serse and Erik Kallio, who have worked with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. They used Liberty’s 1080 Sprint machine to collect and assess data in conjunction with Club Sports Director of Strength & Conditioning Chris Kerr.
“We wanted to work on more player development and skill development,” Division I men’s hockey Head Coach Kirk Handy said. “These guys from Pro Stride obviously work with very talented professional hockey players and because of the relationship Chris Kerr has with Pro Stride, it has allowed us to tap into that experience … to benefit our student-athletes and allow them to become better players.”
“It was really helpful,” Flames freshman forward Alexander Charin added. “While you do your normal practices, you don’t even notice all the mistakes you make. On the first day, we did film with the coaches and they recorded our stats and showed us our mistakes. We’ll definitely try to improve and correct that and we’ll be better skaters in the future.”
Kallio said skating is the essence of the game of hockey, with all other elements secondary.
“If you’re not a great skater, it’s hard to be a great hockey player,” he said. “Power skating is technique training for hockey players to help make them faster, more explosive, more efficient out there on the ice so that when they’re out there in a game situation, the better skater you are.
“As you’re improving your skating, your technique, you’re also improving those other skills. You’re getting to the puck faster, you have more time to make decisions, (so) you become a better shooter, a better stick-handler simply because you’re stronger and more confident on your skates.”
Especially as players move up the ranks to the collegiate and professional levels, skating proficiency becomes paramount.
“The game is so fast that improving your skating is going to help you get to the puck a little quicker, get to where you need to be and have that extra split-second for decision-making, seeing the ice,” Kallio said. “It goes beyond just being faster. It’s helping with other skills … and it’s something that every player, regardless of age, should be working to improve.”
“Tweaking their muscles and tweaking what they are doing on their skating … making sure you are pushing correctly … is just going to help them find more power, more efficiency in their stride and it will just make everything easier for them in their game,” Serse added.
Kerr said the Pro Stride coaches’ expert analysis of the film, of each player skating through a particular pattern on the ice, made him and the Flames’ coaches more knowledgeable as to what to look for in future video sessions.
“They’ve used this equipment before and they know what they’re doing,” he said. “Now the athletes can see it visually, just by watching their video, but also through the data that the 1080 provides. What we hope to see through this is increased speed, obviously, but also force and power. As the technique visually looks better, we’re going to be able to show the athletes that, in fact, (they) are not only moving faster, but producing more force and power throughout their stride.”
Lady Flames Head Coach Chris Lowes said the timing of the clinics was perfect, before the first week of practice from Aug. 30-Sept. 3.
“This was a great opportunity to really emphasize the skating part of the game early on in our season and I think the feedback we’re going to be able to give our players and build the program starting now over the whole year is going to be pretty fun to watch,” he said.
Lady Flames sophomore forward Brityn Fussy gained invaluable insight from the on-ice instruction and video analysis.
“I definitely learned a lot and I had never really thought of things that they brought up, so it was a real good learning curve for me,” she said. “The 1080’s a really cool (device) just to look at all of that data. It helped me improve a lot just to see what I need to work on and what areas I struggle with.”
Flames DI men’s hockey Associate Head Coach Jeff Boettger said the coaches will continue to fine-tune players’ skating techniques throughout the season.
“This (clinic) is creating foundation for our skill development over the course of the year that will be really good to build off of and implement during practices as well, so we’re excited to get going,” he said.
Kerr said the preseason instruction and in-season coaching and analysis will help the Flames and Lady Flames emerge as more complete players by season’s end.
“When we start to combine all of the things that we have here at Liberty, all of the amenities and just the facilities and the coaching staffs, it’s going to create a better overall hockey player,” he said. “We’re not only now going to be able to use this 1080 Sprint (machine) off ice or on ice, but now we’re going to be able to combine with the trained eye of a skating coach what the data looks like … it just opens up a whole new world of potential and possibilities.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media