All Glory to the Hockey Stop

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Mike Tibodeau

Ever since early man first talked his younger brother into rolling down the steep slope next to their cave, man has yearned for speed.  But at that very same moment, as he careened uncontrollably down the hill, the other man yearned for a way to stop.  So why does it seem that even as we hockey newbies strap steel to the bottoms of our feet in the pursuit of streaking down the ice, we neglect learning the skill of the stop?

Is it because we perceive no glory in the stop?  It has no stats column to post to our facebook wall.  Do we like to run headfirst into the boards, bowling over friends and foes alike? Do we… do we think we are too good for the stop?

The three comments I overhear the most about other skaters during a Level 1 JMS session are: 1) “That guy/gal can really skate!”, 2) “That guy/gal has a wicked shot!”, 3) “Watch out for that guy/gal, they don’t know how to stop!”.  That last comment says a lot.  It not only shows that even developing skaters know how important the stop is, but also that they are cautious of those skaters who haven’t bothered to learn the skill.

The hockey stop can take some time to learn, the biggest obstacle usually being breaking through the mental barrier (“You expect me to rush down the ice and then somehow just turn my hips and come to a complete stop in less then a second?!?”).  I remember trying repeatedly several days in a row and falling over every time.  Then, one day, while skating around an outdoor rink, it just happened.  And once I knew I could do it, I wasn’t afraid to try it again, and again, and again, till eventually I mastered it.

To learn the stop, find a friend that already knows how and ask for a little instruction.  If you don’t have that resource, there’s also a lot of useful information on the web, howtohockey has just one example.  Once you’ve got the basic idea of the stop it’s time to try it on the ice.  Find an outdoor rink or attend an open skate and start slow.  Be patient, but also be tenacious.  You will get it!

Once you’ve mastered the stop, you’ll quickly realize you use it all the time.  And in some crazy M. Night Shyamalan like twist, you’ll even find yourself going faster, knowing you can stop!

Yes, there is glory in the ol’ hockey stop.