20 January 2012

Notes on transitions/pivots in hockey

Forward to backward
  1. Glide forward on both skates.
  2. Shift your weight to the front of your skates.
  3. Turn your upper body and hips approximately 90 degrees.
  4. Shift your weight to the back of your skates.
  5. (advanced) Do a backwards crossover.
  6. Skate backwards. 
Can be done on a curve or on a straight line.

Keep your body low and your feet wide. Keep your head up! That will ensure that your body is square.

The key is the part where you turn your upper body and hips. This does most of the work. Don't try to turn your feet. Turn your upper body and hips first, and your feet will follow. As your turn your body, keep your body square -- your shoulders should be level, your body weight centered over your skates. You shouldn't be leaning backwards or forwards or dropping one shoulder.

Concentrate on shifting/transfering your momentum from forward to backward without losing speed. The pivot is similar to the pivot in the hockey stop, but you don't want to do the stopping part! Ideally, you want to accelerate out of the transition.

Backward to forward
  1. Glide backwards on the back inside edge of one skate, on an arc. Keep gliding until your body faces 90 degrees to your original direction of travel.
  2. Open up your hips and hold the other skate in front of you and off the ice.
  3. Now turn your upper body and hips towards the skate that is off the ice. Your body should be an open, V-shaped position.
  4. Shift your weight to the other skate. Put that skate down on its back inside edge.
  5. Skate forward. 
Can be done on a curve or on a straight line.

Keep your body low and your feet wide. When you are gliding on the back inside edge, keep your feet close together so you can really put your weight on the back inside edge.

Remember to keep your head up!

Imagine that your feet are skating on an arc. When you do the backward to forward transition, your skates need to be on a deep inside edge.

Don't change feet too early. Keep gliding (for what seems like a long time) until your body faces 90 degrees to the original direction of travel. Then rotate your upper body and hips, not before.


In game situations, transitions are used so that you always face the puck and never turn your back on the play.

Forwards might use transitions when going down low on the breakout. This way they don't turn their back on the puck when making themselves available for the defenseman to pass to.

Defensemen probably use transitions the most.
  1. They might be skating forward with the puck. They can't see a good play to make, so they buy some time by transitioning to backwards.
  2. Your team is attacking and you skate forward into the offensive zone to help out. But then your team loses possession of the puck and you need to switch back to defense. So then you do a transition and skate backwards to cover the defensive zone.
  3. You are skating backwards playing defense against a forward. Then you use the backward to forward transition to cut off the attack and push the forward towards the boards.
  1. Do transitions around a pair of cones.
  2. Do transitions around your own stick.
  3. Do transitions on a slalom style course. 
  4. Have the defenseman skate forward towards an attacker, then transition from forward to backward and play defense against the attacker.
  5. Have the defenseman skate backwards while an attacker skates forwards. When the attacker gets close, the defenseman cuts off the attacker using the backward to forward transition and pushes the attacker towards the boards

Robby Glantz Secrets of Hockey Speed, Vol 1 - "Change of direction", 0:00
Laura Stamm - "Quick turns and transitions", 1:26

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