Skating backwards can seem like a daunting task when you first learn to skate, but like anything else in life when you conquer your fear you are rewarded. Backwards skating is the most important thing a defensmen must learn. A great defencemen should strive to be able to skate just as fast backwards as the other players can skate forwards. This will allow you to stay with the plays and remain in control of the situation.
Learning to skate backwards
One of the most difficult parts of skating backwards is getting used to the feeling of going backwards on skates. Doing anything backwards creates a mental fear, your body does not respond well when it cannot see where it is going, and this imbalance is what causes the most difficulty. When learning to skate backwards, a great way to get your body to adapt is too start off just pushing yourself off of the boards backwards. This allows your body to get used to the feeling and allows it to overcome the mental barrier. Your stance for skating backwards is similar to skating forwards, keep your knees bent and shoulder width apart. This ready position does not change no matter what way you are skating. Practice pushing yourself off of the boards, I guarantee you will fall once or twice, but that is the only way you will learn. Get up and try again!
Once you have gotten used to the feeling of moving backwards on skates it is time to progress and get your feet moving. Backwards skating is a little different from skating forwards. Start on the boards, push off the same as you have been doing, now go on the inside edges of both your skates. This will cause you to start to do the splits, now instead of falling and ripping your pants down the middle pull in with your inner thigh. If done properly you your skates should come back in and be shoulder width apart again. Do this over and over so you get used to pushing out, and pulling in. It may sound funny but when you are on the ice you will understand. Keep practicing as this motion is the basic building block of skating backwards.