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I'm wondering how many coaches out there are using skating treadmills for their teams.
At first I was skeptical. but I'm seeing more and more of them in Michigan.

My sons have skated on them a few times now and I am surprised how quickly skating flaws can be identified.

I was at a wedding in Toronto and talking to some other coaches they seem to be a big part of Canadian off ice training as well.

The instructor on our treadmill has the kids stickhandle and shoot while skating. I really like the idea of creating the muscle memory coordinating shooting and skating. All too many times players glide before shooting.

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I think they are a good if used for conditioning, but not effective in training for technique. I've sat next to skating coaches who can identify players who have trained on the treadmill for long periods of time. Their stride tended to push back instead of out to the side.

Not sure what others think, but that's my thoughts.

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Registered: 02/24/10
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Interesting as felt just the oppostie that it is a good technique tool but would not want to use it for conditioning.

Last night my older son, who pushes too far back in his stride, figured out it is much easier to skate at the same speed pushing to the side.

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Tony, You have sparked my interest in these skating treadmills so I checked a number of demonstrations out on line.

A good number of skaters were skating in a walking running direction. (forwards , backwards) not out to the side. in a number of these workouts you will see the player lift his or her heel up after the push or thrust on extension or partial extension.. That usually indicates a more forward backwards ( walking, running motion) and pushing with the toe of the skate.
When pushing out to the side ( 45 deg) you will be able to keep the blade low and parallel to the ice allowing complete contact of the blade on the ice during the push.
There are allot of key elements in the forward stride and you have to slow it down and feel each movement.

But like anything if you get a good instructor or coach they will pick up on all the small things.

I will use my old fashioned slide-board. Would be safer for this old body .

So good to read postings from other coaches instead of always me. If the coach has the skater pushing 90 degrees to the side and finishing between 45 and 50 degrees (on the ice you go forward and on the treadmil the rink moves backward) then the treadmill can be effective. If they are pushing back and finishing about 15-20 degrees like many U10 skaters do then the treadmill is producing and reinforcing bad technique and it could ruin a player.

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Dr. Mike Bracko has written about skating treadmills, and overall his impression is not favorable.

Here is a link to a presentation he made in the summer of 2012. It has been a month or so since I first watched it, but I think he does make some comments regarding treadmills in this presentation. But, I am not certain.

The presentation is worth watching regardless, especially if you are not familiar with his body of work.
Tim, I liked that video and thanks for posting the link and your drill. His comment on the skating treadmill was that it is effective if the surface is flat and not uphill and the player handles a puck etc. I worked with Page in Austria, who did the early research in skating. He is a realy student of the game. Bracko lives about 5 minutes from me and I often watch him on the ice just before I play in the mornings. I also presented at the same symposium in Halifax with him.

My view is that it is important for young players to get the side to side motion early and that is why at the beginning you do full recovery and even heel clicks. The player has to learn a totally different movement pattern. Side to side instead of front to back. When we learn anything we over emphasize movement slowly (as a slow motion tennis swing or golf swing). Once they have the side to side motion then work on quick recovery.

Put a finger on the spot of the recovery leg hitting the ice and you will see that each leg hits about the same spot. So if you were skating down the blue line each skate would recover about 1/3 toward the middle of the line and not outside the line. I did this with his video demonstrations. The slow skaters were recovering too far and the skate would have come back over about 60% of the way to the other side of the blue line causing slow push off and recovery. I think Mike misses the point about how close to the midline each foot hits the ice. It is in line with shoulder hip and knee and not the chin but the initial blade contact with the ice isn't very wide apart.

You need to be able to control your skating on all of the edges, turn each way etc. All this has to be done in a hockey skating position like he outlines in his talk.

Interesting thing is I saw Tony Walsh sitting and listening in the video, he instructs on the skate mill for Red Bull and does a lot all over. He has a quiet skating treadmill that is flat that he markets.

Registered: 09/24/11
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I have stopped doing the partner stick pull drill with my team, because I observed it promoted a push to the rear (to overcome the resistance of the partner) rather than a push to the side.

I have found teaching Gaston's falling to the side movement very effective. What I gather from Dr. Mike B. is that the skater doesn't need to recover the skate past where it would no longer be on an inside edge for the new push off. By having the upper body fall to the inside the skater can recover the skate further in and still have it be on an inside edge.

Coordination of upper body movements, proper arm swing and proper recovery are the ingredients to fast skating. All of which I need to work on myself.

Registered: 09/24/11
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Skating treadmill may be good for stickhandling, but not for stride. Professional or Mite doesnt matter. The second a skate touches down on the treadmill, it is pulled back before your brain can tell your foot to push out. Even though its only a fraction of a second, its enough to create muscle memory of incorrect stride technique. The faster the treadmill goes, the greater the problem. Treadmill is great for running as the motion is the same, front to back. Not for skating. The only ones who dispute these facts are the ones who own the treadmills and you cant blame them as they have alot of $ invested.

Registered: 09/15/12
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Good to hear comments from new coaches..

I would agree with you about the skating treadmills and may not be the best for the skating stride. But that opinion is just from looking at how these things work and I have never used one.
I have used slide boards and find they work on the stride well.
As far as the DR. Mike B. video posted earlier there are some great points that he makes.
Yes the players I work with sometimes do click their heels , and bring there leg back under their centre of gravity. But Do I want them doing that in a game ?

Watch the A2 Russian Puck handling video that Tom posts from time to time.
Do they want them to handle the puck with one hand far as they can to the side and down on one knee in a game situation all the time.?
No I don't think so all the time , maybe when the situation comes up. they would.

It is about separating the upper and lower body and creating a wide range of motion.. Tom correct me if I'm wrong with that.

Over exaggerating the stride , getting a feeling and more confidence on each edge an a more wide range of motion with the stride is very similar A2 Russian Puck Handling. A different skill , one puck handling and the other skating , but creating the range of motion, a sense of confidence is the same.

Just my thoughts ..

Rookie Coach, I agree. When you first learn things it is good to do them slowly and exaggerate the movement. Skating is not a natural movement since it is a sideways and not a fromt to back push. In the talent hotbeds that Daniel Coyle talks about int the Talent Code and the Little Book of Talent the coaches have the athletes swing a tennis racquet in slow motion but with the perfect angle. Getting the movement gross pattern is important and then tweak it for efficiency. (I do agree with Bracko when he wonders why the skating mills in NA are on an incline and hockey rinks are flat)
PS Thanks for contributing the breakout drill.

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Dr. Bracko does not do conclusive tests of his own to prove his theories. Above is a link to a proven tested and clinical testing of the skating treadmill by an actual skating coach that skated at a competitive level. Although Dr. Bracko has a degree I am not sure that his testing is very accurate. If you watch his YouTube Videos it is abundantly clear.

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