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Biomechanics of front skate weight transfer

Biomechanics of front skate weight transfer

Sports biomechanics

In a previous article, we explained that the fastest players are those who favor maximum extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints during the propulsion phase of forward skating. Today, we’ll look at how you can optimize the propulsion of your skating stroke by transferring weight from one leg to the other.

For a better understanding, this article will focus on the phase of weight transfer from the right (darker) to the left (lighter) leg, as illustrated by the blue box in the image below. In fact, the left leg’s weight transfer phase begins when the left skate touches the ice, i.e. when the right leg is still in the propulsion phase. As the right leg reaches maximum extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints, the weight of the body is gradually transferred to the left leg until the right skate leaves the ice [1].


A group of researchers compared the forward skating biomechanics of elite field hockey players with those of amateur field hockey players. The results of the study showed that elite players have greater flexion of the left hip and knee when the left skate touches the ice at the start of the weight transfer phase (red box in the image below) [2].
So why would greater hip and knee flexion at the start of the weight transfer phase optimize your skating stroke?

It has been suggested that greater flexion of the knee and hip in elite field hockey players at the start of the weight transfer phase would enable the thigh muscles to develop more power and thus improve the impulse of the skate stroke [2].

In summary, superior flexion of the hip and knee at the start of the weight transfer phase, followed by maximum extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints at the end of the propulsion phase, will improve the speed of your skate stroke.

Written by Simon Laurendeau, M.Sc. Kinesiology

References
1. Chang,R. (2003). Lower limb joint kinematics of field hockey skating. Masters of Science,Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education,McGill University
2. Upjohn, T., Turcotte, R. A., Pearsall, D., and Joh, J. (2008). Three dimensional kinematics of the lower limb during forward ice hockey skating. Sports Biomechanics, 7 (2), 205-220.

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