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Learning to skate faster

Posted 11/13/13 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The difference between winning and losing a hockey game oftentimes comes down to the players who can skate faster and better.
It is the player who can get to the puck faster than his opponent that makes the difference. Likewise, by using proper skating techniques, hockey players will be able to develop into the type of player that they dream of becoming.
And no one knows that better than Robby Glantz, who served as a coach for the LA Kings from 1993 to 2005 and has brought his knowledge of skating to national teams in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Austria, to name a few.
“I wish that I had learned the proper skating techniques when I was playing hockey,” stated Glantz, who played college club hockey years ago.
Glantz, unfortunately, didn’t learn how to skate better or faster until he was in his late teens and early 20s. It was too late to use what he now knew to help him break into the professional ranks of hockey.
But it wasn’t too late for him to take what he knew and help others become better skaters. Which Glantz has been doing since the 1990s.
“I decided to take the skills that I learned and help others,” states Glantz. “I’m a better teacher than I was a skater.”
And last week, Glantz was in Watford City to teach members of the Watford City Oilers’ hockey teams the same skills that he has used with professional hockey players.
“I use the same drills and techniques for all groups,” stated Glantz. “Skating isn’t that hard. It’s about fundamentals and posture.”
So for three hard, yet fun-filled, afternoons and evenings, Glantz brought his magic formula for learning how to skate better and faster to area youth who dream of winning a state tournament, playing collegiate hockey or who knows, make it as a professional.
From hooking up players to his famous bungie cords to help them learn how fast they can really skate or working with them on starting and stopping quickly, Glantz was a blur on the ice as he shouted words of encouragement to the players.
“Training is all in your head,” stated Glantz. “What I’m helping teach them is that they can move their legs faster than they think they can. And once they’ve experienced that increase in speed and know how to do it, the rest just comes.”
And for Dave Hansen, who along with Arden Berg formed the Watford City hockey program in 1985, bringing someone of Glantz’s caliber to town for one-on-one training with the hockey players, was an absolutely unbelievable achievement.
“He’s coached the best hockey players in the world,” stated Hansen, who has been the head coach of the Oilers’ Junior Gold team for 15 years. “It’s great that we could bring that level of teaching to Watford City.”
And in just three short sessions that Glantz has spent with each of the teams, Hansen says that he is already seeing the difference.
“The players respond better to an outside person,” stated Hansen. “They wouldn’t give me or their coaches the same effort that they have given Robby. They’ve already learned a lot and that makes it all worth it.”
According to Hansen, bringing in a coach of Glantz’s caliber didn’t come cheap.
But thanks to a significant financial donation by Leann Erickson, whose daughter, Krystle, skated in Watford City’s girls hockey program for five years, Hansen was able to bring Glantz to town.
“I believe in the hockey program in Watford City,” stated Erickson on her donation. “And I wanted to make a difference.”
By the time that the hockey players skated off the ice on Wednesday  with burning muscles and sore legs, they knew that they had been through a workout. But in spite of their aches and pains, they left the ice with smiles on their faces, anxiously awaiting the beginning of their hockey season.
Glantz had done his job and now it was up to Hansen and the other Oiler hockey coaches to continue the training.
“If we, as coaches, can continue to teach his skills, we are going to have a better hockey program in the future,” stated Hansen. “When the kids who are in our younger programs now get to the Junior Gold levels, they will be much better hockey players.”
Which is why he left all of the players and coaches with one final message.
“Perfect practice makes perfect,” states Glantz.
It’s the message that Glantz has used to motivate and teach literally hundreds of professional hockey players. And it is the same message that Glantz wanted to impart to the future hockey stars in Watford City.