The athletic ready position is the fundamental skating position to maintain when skating forward, backwards, and during transitions such as pivots and crossovers. It’s essentially the foundation for every movement on the ice.
Although it may seem incredibly simple and intuitive, even some great hockey players lack a proper athletic stance, which limits their ability to fluidly move around the ice.
The following drill is inspired by our mentor Peter Twist of Twist Sport Conditioning and former NHL strength and conditioning coach.
This drill can be done with a partner.
- Begin by firmly digging your skate blades into the ice. This ensures that you’ll be properly balanced on the flat portion of the blade, maintaining neutral alignment of your lower leg.
- Push your shin pads forward against the tongues of your skate boots, and sit your hips behind in a deep half-squat position.
- Engage your core, keep your back straight, remove your bottom hand from the hockey stick and position it against your torso in a “ready position.”
- Your partner attempts to lightly push you off balance.
Be creative and add variety to the pushes—left side, right side, shoulder level, hip level. To add an extra level of expert progression, attempt the same exercise with your eyes closed. This drill is highly effective in increasing the proprioception and reactivity needed in the core and hip muscles to maintain a strong skating stance when being pushed off balance by an opponent.