DriBlades For Youth Program

DriBlades™ For Youth was created with the goal of progressing young skaters more efficiently by developing their balance, strength and overall confidence.
There are many benefits achieved through a variety of movements and exercises while training in your DriBlades.
As young skaters (ages 5 – 13 approx) develop physically, the DriBlades Youth Program is a regressed series of exercises to better improve their development into more challenging movements.

DriBlades for Youth - Purpose and Design

One of the best things we can do for young skaters is to help them improve the required strength and confidence in their skates off the ice as they develop into skaters on the ice.
Skating is an extremely challenging movement which is performed on an unstable surface. The body is asked to perform a specific sequence of movements while standing on two edges.
As we learn to skate, we are learning to use muscles in a different pattern than we do when we walk or run. When we are performing a skating stride, there is a multi-directional function greater than running. In our skates is the only time that demand of these muscles is prominent.
DriBlades give youth the opportunity to improve the strength of their muscles needed to deal with the weight of their skates and/or overall demand of the stride BEFORE getting onto the ice, which will impact a young skater’s ability to progress quickly.
Most often, a young skater’s stride breaks down or shows lack of improvement due to being physically incapable of performing the physical movements required, which could also lead to injury
DriBlades for Youth program is the next evolution of hockey training because we understand to be great in your skates on the ice, you need to be confident and strong in your skates off the ice.

Recommended Movements

Movement #1 - Lateral load and leg lift

Standing in a ready position. Legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent
We want to shift our weight to one skate and then slowly lift our other leg laterally, balancing on the one skate.
(young skaters won’t be able to hold their balance very long to start)
Over time, a player will develop the strength to lift their leg and balance without their entire body shaking to stay in control.
Eventually, we are working towards bringing our leg up laterally so that the lifted leg is about one foot off the ground.

Movement #2 - Toe Tap (In a triangle formation)

Standing in a ready position. Legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent
We want to shift our weight to balance on one skate.
With our other skate, we want to tap the floor 6-12 inches in front of us, then tap the floor 6-12 inches away from us (to the side).
Finally, we want to tap the floor 6-12 inches behind where we started.
Each time we move our skate into one of the three positions (front, side, back), we will tap the ground with the tip of our blade before slowly moving our skate to the next position.
Remember, we balance on one skate while using the other to create our triangle. The skate itself is more than enough weight to challenge young and new skaters to remain balanced while moving positions.

Movement #3 - Squat

Standing in a ready position. Legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent
Start with feet shoulder width apart.
Keeping hips and spine neutral, squat down to a 90 degree position.
If possible hold the 90 degree position for 1-2 seconds and return to standing.
Pay attention to spine alignment.
Many youths fold their spine rather than bend their knees.
(The goal is to build up to 3 sets of 10-12 reps, remembering to hold the squat position for a couple of seconds)

Movement #4 - Goblet Squat

Standing in a ready position. Legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent
The goblet squat is a slight variation of the traditional squat movement. Start by having your heels lined up with your shoulders and have your toes pointed outward at a 45-degree angle for goblet squats.
Goblet squats impact how much our hips are required to open up as we get in this position. This movement will help with lower body strength as well as an improved flexibility to allow skaters get lower in their stride.
The main breakdown for this movement will be the collapse of the knees inward.
If parents see their young skaters struggle to keep their legs locked in a position without breaking down at the knees and ankles, encourage them to stay on the outside of their edges with their heels down.

Movement #5 - Crossovers

Lying down on our backs with both legs as straight as possible.
From this position, we open and close our legs crossing one skate over the other.
Be sure to alternate legs at a controlled tempo keeping them straight as possible. Making sure one is going under, and one is going over.
The weight of the skate will be more than enough resistance for young skaters trying to continually cross over their skates for an extended period.
It is important the blades do not clip each other when they are crossing over. If this happens, this would cause a player to catch an edge on the ice.
Young skaters will struggle to hold the weight of the skates in the air while performing this movement. This will help develop the core while highlighting the abductor and adductor muscles.

Movement #6 - Inverted Stride

Lying down on our backs with one leg straight and one leg pulled up so our knee is above our hip and creating a 90-degree angle. (Make sure the knee doesn’t col-lapse towards the stomach area and the heel of the skate remains held high in the air.)
Parents can help by pushing and pulling on the bent leg, ensuring our young skater can hold it up strong at a 90-degree angle.
Even in this starting position, you will notice the body working to hold the weight of the skate in that 90-degree position.
From our bent knee 90-degree position, we extend the leg outwards and upwards on a diagonal angle, like we are completing a skating stride while lying on our back.
Reaching full leg extension at a very controlled tempo, we pause before slowly returning the skate to 90 degrees. Repeat as necessary.
(To start, the straight leg can rest along the ground while extending the other leg. As the young skater progresses, they can raise their straight leg and hold it anywhere from 1 inch to 1 foot off the ground while extending the opposite leg.)
This movement is much more difficult when your straight leg is being held in the air and not resting along the surface.

Movement #7 - Table Top Position Skating Stride

On our hands and knees, with our back in a straight position. (Tabletop position)
When we are on all fours keeping arms slightly bent, we will take our right leg and raise it laterally as high as possible without letting our knee collapse towards the armpit.
Once we have raised our leg laterally, we need to extend that leg replicating the angle of a skating stride. Extend the leg at a comfortable tempo, allowing the core muscles to work hard to keep the leg extended and hold the skate high in the air.
The skate will act as a strong resistance and force young skaters to engage their core.

Safety First

Parents should be confident that the movements and positions recommended are safe and age-appropriate. The positions will help parents identify breakdowns in their children’s form and start correcting those immediately in an environment much more conducive to learning.
Many of the muscles required to skate are actually activated or used only if we are in our skates. This means youth are on the ice trying to learn how to skate, using muscles that have rarely been activated and have never been developed. Young skaters are often asked to perform skating techniques that they are physically incapable of doing.
If someone of any age doesn’t have the balance, coordination, or strength to perform in their skates off the ice, then how can we expect them to perform in them on the ice?

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