Skill development, power skating help to shape AHU’s future
For a multitude of players, mastering skating technique is the core of becoming a successful athlete in the sport of hockey.
It’s not a simple task to do, but the outcome of a proper instruction for ice skills is the foundation of hockey. For the Arizona Hockey Union, the go-to instructor for power skating and skills is ace coordinator and coach-in-chief Kurt Goar.
Goar mentors players by using modern coaching techniques, and says even he is always learning new things as he looks for more ways to improve.
“It’s not fun to work on skill development as a player, but they need it for the future,” Goar said. “When it comes to power skating, discipline, dedication and endurance are important.”
Goar stated that power skating is too technical of a term – a lot of science goes into learning proper technique. From wearing proper fitting skates to knowing proper posture, there are many beneficial aspects that some hockey players aren’t aware of.
“If you can’t master the basics of skating, it’s hard to continue, to go further in the sport,” Goar stated. “Even USA Hockey has information that will really help out a beginner player on the technical side of skating.”
Equipment is one of the starting points for technique. It’s vital for a player to have proper fitting equipment in order to progress in hockey.
After teaching the important of proper fitting attire, Goar focuses on teaching players how to properly glide across the ice and not tire.
“I always tell kids to close their eyes and imagine the bottom of their foot is the blade,” Goar said. “The reality is that if you can’t skate properly, there’s no other skills you can acquire.”
When Goar mentors a new student, he tries to get an understanding of where the student is physically and mentally.
“You want to make sure your child sees eye-to-eye with their skills coach,” Goar stated. “You want your student to be confident and react when they are in front of you – it makes it much easier to teach them.”
He also suggests for his players to try different sports, both individual and team, to be physically diverse.
“Get familiar with your sport, so if it’s hockey, then watch hockey on TV, check out other teams playing, try balance exercises,” Goar said. “Try to familiarize yourself with the game of hockey.”
Goar compares his skating instructions to those of a figure skater, who can take two strides and be across the ice with minimal effort. Players try to skate as fast as they can, or “running” across the ice, but that only tires them out.
“Hockey coaches used to tell us to skate in a squatting position, but always keep your head up, and I teach that to my players now,” Goar said. “If after five minutes you’re exhausted, then you need more work.”
New generations playing hockey also means new expectations from the athletes.
“Many players and families these days want to learn how to win, and win by a lot,” Goar stated. “It’s the struggle with any sport – not everyone wins. Remember that there may be someone better than you on your team, as well as someone who is not as good as you, but you can strive to be as good as the teammate better than you, and also humble yourself by helping your teammate who is struggling.”
Skill development and power skating is something well worth learning to go far in hockey, and Goar has produced successful players from his program. Al Bloomer, the former USA Hockey coach-in-chief, has acknowledged Goar for his work.
“Kurt is one of the best on-ice coaches I have ever seen,” Bloomer said. “His teams are always well-prepared and very disciplined. We need more coaches like Kurt.”
The Union will offer skills sessions beginning in early April with a six-punch card available for purchase. Punch cards and more information can be found at www.arizonahockeyunion.com.
— Katy Wolpoff