For this article we will try to understand how to teach a power turn to a younger skater, as well as what things to look for that help or hinder a skater’s ability to execute this skill. A power turn is one of the first skills that should be taught after a skater gets a good grasp of his/her balance and edges. For as many times as a skater will use a power turn, it is essential to learn how to do it properly and what things to look for that will help each skater improve.
First, it is important to understand the proper way to execute a power turn. The skater should enter into a turn with their feet apart and knees bent, giving them a strong foundation. The skates should be parallel with both skate blades on the ice.
Once this happens, the skater can lead with their stick, shoulders and head, making sure that everything is going the right direction. We use the analogy of a person turning the handlebars on a bike first before they turn. Remember, the stick is an extension of a skater’s body, so it is important not to let the stick drag behind the skater. Once we have everything going the right way, all we have to do is lean on both our inside and outside edge.
Here is where it gets difficult. Notice in the below photo how the skater’s foot is being turned inward. When this happens, the skate will create a scrape against the ice and cause the skater to slow down or maybe even stop. With younger skaters, you may even hear the skate “chatter” up and down on the ice. That skate turning inward, as well as the skater’s weight not being balanced, will cause this.
Another thing to remember is that both skate blades should stay completely on the ice. For some reason, some skaters like to kick their heel into the ice while their toe comes up off the ice. This will cause friction that will result in the skater digging into the ice too much.
Finally, it is important the skater’s ankles stay stable. Any dipping or dropping of a skater’s ankles will likely result in a skater hitting his/her boot on the ice, causing the skater to slip or fall.
After a younger skater has a good feel and understanding of their edges, they should start to learn the proper way to turn. The drill that I still think works the best is what we call the “scattered puck” drill. A coach will scatter the pucks around in a given space. Two skaters will be lined up to go, one will be the leader while the other will be the follower. When the coach says, “go,” the first skater can go wherever he/she would like to go, weaving in and out of the pucks. The second skater will chase and try to stay right behind the leader.
This is a great drill because it does not have a set pattern, so each skater has to adjust quickly, just like in a game. Kids will get the hang of this and have fun with it as well. Coaches should let each pair go for about 20 seconds before starting the next group. Multiple groups can go at once using all three zones.
Any drills or games that involves a lot of turning are a great way for the kids to get the repetition they need to improve. Remember to try to be creative and think of different ways to teach the same skill. Good luck.
Andy Ness is the head skating and skill coach for the Minnesota Wild. He has also been an assistant skating instructor for the New Jersey Devils, the University of Minnesota men’s and women’s hockey teams and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.