PowerSkater Work Out Drills – by Ron Bulloch, Inventor of the PowerSkater.

Many times I am asked for drills or exercises for the PowerSkater. It can be a hard question to answer because the drill or exercise plan is dependent on many things. I also worry about an over enthusiastic Parent pushing their child beyond their capabilities. Remember you young player needs to have fun playing and learning how to skate. With some good solid success on the PowerSkater, they will be self motivated to keep improving and staying up with or passing their teammates. 

  • Age of Player
  • Skill Level
    • Beginner
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced
    • Elite
  • Correction of a Skating Flaw
    • Deep Knee Bends
    • Posture
    • Railroader – Wide Tracking
    • Bobber
    • Straightliner
    • Pitchforker
  • Goal
    • Perfecting Skating Technique
    • Strength & Conditioning

The Five Pillars to Hockey: Peter Twist, a longtime NHL Strength & Conditioning and Player Development Coach, identified 5 pillars of Hockey Conditioning:

  • Balance
  • Whole Body Strength & Power
  • Agility & Reactivity
  • Speed & Quickness
  • Anaerobic Energetics

Balance and strength are at the top of the list. The key to better skating is to get stronger.

The stronger the lower body, the more likely you are to be able to execute the skills required for hockey. Weak muscles results in a higher skating profile, poor balance, short stride, slow starts and top heavy stops, leaving them in a poor position to change direction quickly. At the younger age, weak muscles not only result in poor technique, they prevent the player from learning to perform the skating drills correctly. Improve on balance and strength and you will also improve on puck handling, passing, and shooting. A well postured, confidently controlled body brings the assurance that relaxes the mind and allows vision to open up and see more of the ice. And that, is where ‘anticipation’ comes from.

Everything builds from a base. In hockey, the platform is strength + balance + skating technique.

Power Skating Skills (refer to this page to review skating technique)

The body lean, knee bend, balance, stride, hip, arm and shoulder movement, with your head up are all key posture attributes for proper skating. The PowerSkater allows you to over emphasize the correct techniques.

8 Basic Skating Skill Sets

  • Relaxed posture
  • Flexible ankle bends
  • Flexible knee bends – 2″ over your toes
  • Body lean forward – shoulders even with the toes
  • Back straight
  • Chest up
  • Stomach in, and
  • Your head up

Also read and follow the PowerSkater Instructional Use section on Proper Stride. it is imperative that the user follows proper technique on the machine each and every time Keep their posture correct. Stay in an Athletic Stance during every return (squat position) without raising their body (bobbing).

Primary function of the PowerSkater:

The PowerSkater was designed to mimic the bio-mechanical movement of skating as well as condition the lower body muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the primary joints of the knee, ankles, and hips. Movement is out and back behind the body and not side to side. Each push is loaded out and back, thus each push and return has a loaded concentric and eccentric movement. Movement is specific to proper skating technique. Power comes from firing your glutes – maximus, minimus, and medius. Quickness and acceleration comes from the explosive push developed by driving against a load. Power skating focus is on stride depth + stride length, which is same for the PowerSkater. On-ice, however, using edges, players need human motion to power the leg from an explosive start through a full long stride – but harnessing the muscles to APPLY power – this is trained by pushing against a load. The PowerSkater is a tremendous developer of the Core since the abdominals and back must activate so the legs have something to produce leverage against for the push to drive the load to full extension.

The vast majority of the time, forward strides is all you need to work on. Learning proper posture in your skating will go a long way in helping all the other skating skills you will need to learn. Quite often I see kids who are above average height generally become upright skaters and they never learn to get low for speed, balance and stability. It is not until they get to be about 15-16 before they realize that they can’t keep up to small players who do get low. I see this a lot, even at the Junior, College and Pro levels. If you want to skate fast, skate low! Players at a older age can incorporate the Crossunder attachment to learn and build up the muscles for push and pull exercises. Interval training can be incorporated later on as well.

Where does Speed come from?

Speed comes from two major areas: 1) proper skating technique; 2) being able to move your feet fast. The PowerSkater teaches the forward stride and if you workout according to our suggestions then you will learn to get lower, have strong deep powerful strides. Once you have your stride down perfectly, start focusing on plyometrics.

Common Challenges for Young Skaters or Beginners:

Quite often we find young players simply do not have the strength in their lower body to properly perform many skating skills. They struggle to get low: a) to push with their foot through the whole leg and not from their knees; b) to maintain proper balance – not wiggling their butt and upper body: and c) keep their back straight with their head up. If they stand too upright, the knee tries to extend outward before the foot moves. The player needs to squat and push the foot outward. We recommend achieving a 90 degree bend in the glide leg, however young players may not have the leg strength to do this and it will take time to build up the muscle strength to execute such a move. If so start out with a slight knee bend and slowly increase the depth over time. Emphasize good posture at all times. One suggestion is to place a mirror at a safe distance in front of the machine so the player can see themselves to help visually keep good posture. Mark a place on the track with hockey tape that is about 2″ beyond their comfort zone in bending their knees then stress to extend at least to the mark each time.

The corresponding image shows how the foot rests can be adjusted for the angle of hip opening. 

Beginners wanting to learn Skating Technique – (Ages 8 – 9) Standard Cord (10 – 12 minutes of actual forward strides on the PowerSkater – not counting rest periods)

Focus on Forward Strides only. (For young skaters I have always set the foot rests at a 90 degree angle to the Truck Plate. I like to make young players open their hip greater than normal to teach the muscle of a very generous hip opening. This will help them learn to push out with a good hip opening and will help them in pivots). Generally 10 to 12 minutes of actual stride time is enough. We suggest 40 to 60 strides a set in the beginning if they can easily achieve this using proper posture. The player needs to learn posture for each stride and developing some level of knee bend. Rest for approximately 35 seconds then repeat until you achieve about 10 – 12 minutes of skating time. It is really important they learn correct posture. DO NOT stride without good posture. If they get tired and start to lose their posture, then stop. There is no sense doing it wrong, they need to memorize the correct movement. In the off season 3 – 4 sessions a week is enough. In season two a week might be enough depending on the amount of ice time and days playing. Work towards a 90 degree bend in the glide leg. This may take a few months to reach. Once they can achieve this goal, then increase the minutes. 15 minutes a day is sufficient to see an improvement. Also you can start to increase the number of strides per session.

Ages 10 to 12 wanting to learn Skating Technique –Standard Cord (12 – 15 minutes of actual forward strides on the PowerSkater – not counting rest periods)

Focus on Forward Strides only. (For young skaters I have always set the foot rests at a 90 degree angle to the Truck Plate. I like to make young players open their hip greater than normal to teach the muscle of a very generous hip opening. This will help them learn to push out with a good hip opening and will help them in pivots). The next time your skater goes on the ice (before practice starts) tell him/her to start off at the Blue line (about 3″ from the wall) and count how many strides it takes from the Red Line all the way around the rink back to the Red Line where you started from. With this number you now know how many strides it takes to skate a full lap. When they are on the PowerSkater count this number of strides for each session which indicates how many laps they are doing on the machine. Use this number as an indicator for each session. Rest for approximately 35 seconds and repeat until you eventually get up to 12 – 15 minutes of machine time. In the off season 3 – 5 sessions is sufficient until you start practicing again. When you do get back on the ice try to conscientiously remember your posture on the machine and transfer this to the ice in your skating. Focus on proper Skating technique. It the player get tired and loses their proper posture, stop, rest and repeat. There is no sense doing it wrong, they need to memorize the correct movement. Focus on Forward Strides only.

Ages 13 – 15 wanting to Learn Skating TechniqueMedium Cord (15 minutes of actual forward strides on the PowerSkater – not counting rest periods)

Follow the suggestion above in counting how many strides it takes the player to make a lap around the rink. Multiply that number by 1.5 and use this number for each session on the PowerSkater. Focus on deep knee bends. Push to get lower and stay low. If the player has weak muscles then cut back to the original number and work from there. If the player is struggling to get low find where their comfort zone is and make a 2″ mark with hockey tape just past their comfort zone and work on getting comfortable at this position, then move that again until they eventually achieve a deep (90 degree) knee bend in their glide leg. Rest for approximately 35 seconds and repeat until you eventually get up to 15 minutes of machine time. In the off season 3 – 5 sessions is sufficient until you start practicing again. When you do get back on the ice try to conscientiously remember your posture on the machine and transfer this to the ice in your skating. Focus on proper Skating technique. It the player get tired and loses their proper posture, stop, rest and repeat. There is no sense doing it wrong, they need to memorize the correct movement. Focus on Forward Strides only.

Intermediate Level, Ages 13 – 15 (a good skater) wanting to Improve their Skating – Medium Cord (15 minutes of forward strides and 6-8 minutes using the Crossunder Attachment on the PowerSkater – not counting rest periods)

Adjust the foot rests for a hip opening from a 45 degree angle to 30 degree if the player prefers a more comfortable pushing angle. The angle of the hip opening is the angle of the push, it has nothing to do with the fact that the machine travels backward at a 45 degree angle from the apex.  Make each session 80 to 100 forward strides. Rest for approximately 35 seconds then repeat this until you to achieve 15 minutes in total of forward strides. Change out cords for Backward Crossunder exercises (Standard Cord).  The Crossunder Attachment fits under the track. Many players will struggle to be able to pull and push their back leg behind their front leg. The closer the attachment is to the apex of the machine the easier it is to execute this drill. Keep you upper body and butt static during this exercise. Someone with weak adductors will wiggle around trying to pull and push. It takes practice and stronger muscles to execute this drill. Do 15 reps with each leg (left and right) of backwards push pulls. Switch to forward strides of 10 reps with each leg (left & right) then rest for approximately 25 seconds. Repeat until you have reached about 6-8 minutes of crossunder exercises. If you have the crossunder close to the front, eventually move it in 1″ increment down the track until it is about 18″ from the Apex. As you strengthen your muscles and think you are ready then graduate to the medium cord set. Always keep good posture. If you tire to quickly or lose good posture, then stop, rest and repeat. Always focus on proper Skating technique, balance and easy transfer of weight from the Pushing Leg to the Glide Leg. The backward crossunder takes strong core strength.

Intermediate Level, Ages 16 – 18 (a very good skater with a strong lower body and great core strength) wanting to Improve their Skating – Intermediate Cord [15 minutes of forward strides and 15 minutes using the Crossunder Attachment (Medium Cord) on the PowerSkater – not counting rest periods]

Adjust the foot rests as the player prefers for a comfortable pushing angle. Make each session 80 to 100 forward strides. Rest for approximately 35 seconds then repeat this until you to achieve 15 minutes in total of forward strides. Change out cords for Backward Crossunder exercises (Medium Cord or Intermediate if the player is strong enough).  The Crossunder Attachment fits under the track. The closer the attachment is to the apex of the machine the easier it is to execute this drill. Keep you upper body and butt static during this exercise. Do 15 reps with each leg (left and right) of backwards push pulls. Switch to forward strides of 10 reps with each leg (left & right) then rest for approximately 25 seconds. Place one foot on the truck facing sideways with the other on top of the mounting plate or on the floor and execute quick short lateral strides in a squat position. Repeat with the other leg. Another drill to execute is an adductor drill with one foot on the track and the other on the Truck; pull the opposite foot towards your body for 10 reps in a squat position. Repeat with the opposite leg. Rest and repeat until you have reached about 15 minutes of crossunder exercises. If you have the crossunder close to the front, eventually move it in 1″ increment down the track until it is about 18″ from the Apex. As you strengthen your muscles and think you are ready then graduate to the intermediate cord set. Always keep good posture. If you tire to quickly or lose good posture, then stop, rest and repeat. Always focus on proper Skating technique, balance and easy transfer of weight from the Pushing Leg to the Glide Leg. The backward crossunder takes strong core strength.

Elite Level – Heavy Duty Cord with the Intermediate Cord for Crossunder Exercises.

If you are a great skater then use the PowerSkater for lower body workout days. Use in interval training as part of your normal workouts. By now you should be going to regular a Strength & Conditioning Coach and following a routine to help you get to the next level – Juniors, or College.