Having the ability to skate backwards on the ice can completely change how well you play hockey. Not only will you be able to watch the puck in a new way, you will also gain more agility and better movement on the ice.
But skating backwards can be daunting, especially if you are new to hockey. Once you have learned how to, you will have command of the rink.
It all comes down to practice. This video should also help you understand better on how to skate backwards in hockey.
Why Skate Backwards?
Before we look at how you can ice skate backwards, let’s take a look at why you would want to. After all, if you are already a hockey player, you might not see the need. But take a look at any professional hockey player and you are going to see that they all skate backwards.
For hockey, skating backwards will allow you to keep your eye on the players and the puck, no matter where they are at. If the puck turned out to be behind you, you can turn and skate backwards to stay with its momentum while keeping an eye on it.
Unlike with figure skating, in hockey, you will not be skating backwards to build up momentum to perform a jump. Instead, you can use it simply to move well across the ice. Hockey itself requires continual bursts of speed to stay up with the puck and your opponents. Having the ability to move both backward and forward on the ice can only help improve your game.
Step 1: Get into the right position
Before you start skating backwards, you will need to get in the right position. This is a kind of seated position, where your knees are shoulder-width apart and your knees bending as if to sit in a chair behind you. You do not want to be too upright or you could fall forward. Your knees need to stay bent the entire time. This is to bring you closer to the ground, but also to absorb any kind of wobbles that you might experience. You are more likely to fall and less likely to be successful skating backwards with straight knees.
Step 2: Hands up
Put your hands upright in the middle of your body. Do not put them on your knees or lean on your hands, but instead keep them up by your chest. Your toes should be angled inward in order to get the smooth movement. You will eventually be skating with a hockey stick in your hand so skating with your arms out in a “t” shape is not ideal. You might get balance that way for a moment, but it is not the best way to learn to skate backwards.
Step 3: Take a walk
To get into the motion of skating backwards, begin by taking small backward steps. This is really to build up the confidence in skating backwards and get the feeling of the movement. You will see Scott in the video on this page demonstrating what those small steps should look like.
Step 4: Increase your strides
Once you are comfortable taking small steps backward, you can then increase the length of your strides. This transitions into less walking and more skating. You should aim to use your whole range of motion. Your toes should angle inward when your feet are closer together, but when they are apart, your heels should be angling inward. Your feet should be making the letter “c” here as you begin to get the feeling of skating backwards.
Step 5: Making s’s
After you have a food idea on the notion of skating backwards, then it is time to go a step further. Pushing the outsides of your skates forward and then out, trying curving them back to the center of your body before you do it again. The result should be an “s” design on the ice.
Step 6: Bring your feet back in
Since you started off with your feet shoulder-width apart, they should always return back to that position as your feet move under you before swooping back out again.
Tips for Consideration
Now that you have a good idea of the general movement of skating backward, let’s take a look at some of the tips to help you master the skill.
- To get yourself going: Push off of the wall. You can build up momentum this way to learn the motions of going backwards, without struggling with how to get going.
- Keep your eyes forward: It is easy to think that looking down at your skates will give you some insight in how you are doing. This is just not true. If you move your eyes downward to your skates, your body will naturally lean forward and throw you off balance. Instead, keep your eyes forward and trust the feeling of the skates.
- To move your legs together: Turn your toes out while pulling your legs in. You will want to make use of your inner thigh muscles.
- To move your feet apart: Turn your toes in while pushing your feet out.
- For the best balance: Keep your weight over your feet; leaning forward will make skating backwards very difficult.
- Practice: To really master the skill of ice skating backwards is to practice it as much as possible. Once you have the natural movement of skating backwards, you can incorporate it into your hockey game. Falling is all part of the learning process so don’t be discouraged by it.
- Sharp Skates: Make sure that your hockey skates are sharp. I use Sparx home sharpening machine and love it.
When it comes down to it, skating backwards can really improve your hockey skills. It allows you to move on the ice differently and be present in the game in a different way. In order to master the skill of skating backwards, you need to practice it when you are not in the middle of playing hockey. Take some time out and go practice the skill before integrating it into your hockey game and surprise your opponents on the ice with those sweet backward moves.
Hey there, my name is Shawn and I’m a semi-professional hockey player. I’m also the founder and chief editor here at Hockey Pursuits. I love playing hockey and helping players improve their game and that’s why I decided to start this blog.