Proper Hockey Stance: The Importance of Knee Bend

This is our first video in a series of skating videos. In the series we will be teaching the fundamentals of skating. Our goal is to help new hockey players understand the basics of skating for hockey, and help experienced players tweak their technique for maximum effectiveness. In this video and article we are covering the importance of proper knee bend

Why Does Everyone Tell me to Bend my Knees?

This is likely the biggest piece of advice given to hockey players when it comes to skating, however many players still have trouble getting enough knee bend. In fact I have spoken with some trainers who skate pro players and they say the first drills they do during the off-season involves getting lower to break bad habits the pro’s have developed over the season. So why is knee bend so important?

  • nhl-hockey-knee-bendYour legs are like shock absorbers, having your knees bent gives you a smoother stride
  • When you bend your knees you get lower to the ice, a lower stance gives you more balance which means less falling over
  • In order to get power in each stride you need to bend your knees, the more your knees are bent the more power you can get from each push. A little knee bend means a little power in each push, more knee bend = more power
  • Bending your glide leg brings you lower to the ice which help you elongate your stride, a longer stride (at higher rates of speed) = more speed
  • To sum it up, more knee bend = smoother stride, more power, a longer stride, and better balance
  • Sidney Crosby is so hard to knock off the puck because he gets low

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How do I know if I’m in a Good Hockey Stance?

  • Feet about shoulder width apart, can be a little wider
  • Your weight should be over your feet, you can lean forward while accelerating
  • Ankles, knees, and hips should be bent, with most of the bend coming from the knees
  • Ankles, knees, and shoulders should line up for your starting stance. This puts everything over your feet, this is a good neutral hockey stance
  • Your chest and head should be up, don’t slouch

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6 Comments
  1. Reply hockeybro January 29, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I am unable to get this low. Even when thinking about it, I can’t. Can you give me some flexibility or some other exercises to help me get lower? Thanks.

    • Reply Jeremy Rupke January 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      There are a number of drills that will help, they will encourage deeper knee bend. Your best bet is to take some power skating classes. If you can get this low off the ice (squats) then you should be able to do it on the ice with enough practice.

    • Reply Tyler January 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Doesn’t quite feel right to be ‘advertising’ here, but I actually just published a video demonstrating an off-ice technique that should help you develop and become more comfortable with a deeper knee bend.

      Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw7InoP2e-8

      I have another video as well that demonstrates the result of proper knee bend on the ice…

      Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfDazWlcIn4

      • Reply Jeremy Rupke February 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

        Very cool video, definitely thought provoking. I’ve actually been doing some similar exercises lately. I’m developing a new stickhandling course that uses more game-like drills and will also incorporate game-like foot work. Using the legs and getting lower is part of it.

  2. Reply How to Ice Skate December 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    […] Episode 1 – Proper Hockey Stance […]

  3. Reply The Secret to Balance, Speed, and Power December 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    […] I wanted to expand on it to really drive the point home. In the first video we talked about the importance of knee bend, and in this video we talk about the importance of staying low throughout your […]

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