The concept that many players struggle with, stopping and starting. It is a skill. And it’s also a habit.
So while every skater can perform the skill of stopping and then starting again on the ice, not every skater chooses to stop and start during the bout.
Nothing makes you more frustrated as a coach than watching skaters “loop around”, “circle” or do “fly-bys”. It doesn’t matter what you call it or if it’s in the offensive zone, neutral zone, or defensive zone (which is the worst time to loop around by the way), it drives every coach crazy.
So why don’t the skaters choose to stop and start? Because, in the beginning, it is much more tiring.
When you are used to looping around and circling, then stopping and starting, it can be very taxing on the body. Stopping and starting requires a lot more work by your muscles and lungs in the short-term.
But the truth is, stopping and starting is far easier than looping around, once you’re used to it.
The reason “looping around” drives coaches crazy is because skaters often turn their backs on the play when they do it. It takes much longer to recover when you loop and it usually puts you in a horrible position.
You are wasting time, space and energy when you’re looping around.
Stopping and starting allows you to execute “straight line skating”.
We all know the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line.
So it is much more efficient to stop and start, and it also allows you to be able
to watch the play and be in a better position to support the puck.
Like with any new habit, going from lazily looping around to stopping and starting
is going to be hard. You’re going to find that you’ll be more tired after your first
few shifts of stopping and starting than you were when you circle.
But once your body gets used to it, you will have made the game much easier
for yourself – and for your coach. No more missing passes because you were
facing the wrong way. No more getting stuck in your own end because you did a
“fly-by” in the in-zone, instead of stopping right in front of your check.
You will be much more explosive and much more efficient.
So do the work, and focus on stopping and starting early in the season. It may
be tiring in the short term, but it will certainly pay off in the long term.
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