Biomechanics of skating: the importance of an efficient thrust
Forward skating is definitely one of the most important determinants of a field hockey player’s performance. As mentioned in a previous article, forward skating is a cyclical routine that alternates the production of force generated on the ice by the right and left skates in single and double support phases.
The single and double support phases are made up of several more precise sub-phases, such as the propulsion phase, which is decisive in achieving maximum speed. In fact, it’s during this phase that the most force is generated on the rink by the skates. As a player, it is therefore essential to optimize work during this phase to accelerate faster. As illustrated below, the propulsion phase begins when both skates are in contact with the rink, as the right ankle (right skate) begins to rotate outwards. Next, extend the right hip, knee and ankle to optimize force production. The propulsion phase ends when the right skate leaves the rink (1).
A study comparing the skating biomechanics of elite versus amateur players showed that elite players had greater knee and ankle extension during the propulsion phase. A greater range of motion of the lower limb joints during the push allowed elite players to deploy greater force on the rink than amateur players. The maximum extension of the knee and ankle joints of elite players also enabled them to have a greater thrust length than amateur players (2).
In short, maximizing hip, knee and ankle extension as a player during a push promotes a much more efficient propulsion phase. A more efficient push means a faster skating stroke.
Written by Simon Laurendeau, M.Sc Kinesiologist
1. Fortier A, Turcotte RA, Pearsall DJ. (2013) Skating mechanics of change-of-direction maneuvers in ice hockey players. Sports Biomech. 13(4):341-50.
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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