The Importance of Footwork
An often-overlooked skill in hockey is footwork. Footwork is an accumulation of techniques including using inside and outside edges, balance, leg strength, quickness, and leg mobility. Proper and quality footwork can be the difference between good and great players. Quality footwork enables confidence in skating, confidence in small spaces, and confidence with the puck that requires small area movements.
How can we improve footwork? There are drills such as inside and outside edge skating drills, both forward and backward, that can teach players to use their entire skate blade. Balance can be worked by using one foot or practicing single-leg movements. Stick handling with one foot or working on one-foot inside-outside edge skating can see a benefit. Leg strength, quickness, and leg mobility are all tied together through anticipation. Jumps, squats, up/downs, one leg work, and pivot skating drills can all help strength and mobility through building athleticism.
Once skills see a progression adding a puck can create opportunities for the brain to develop multitasking, an underrated skill that hockey requires. Simply put, there are so many decisions that are made by the body when playing sports, especially hockey.
Always improve footwork! Great footwork establishes greater confidence in players, and greater confidence is an asset for individual player success.