Ankle Mobility for Hockey Players

There have been volumes written about hip mobility for hockey players – whether you are a skater or a goalie, we can all agree that hip mobility is key.

But let’s look down the chain to the joint that is the closest interface to the playing surface – – your ANKLE, which is the interface between your foot and lower leg.

When I do an initial assessment with athletes, it seems that almost all of them have limited ankle mobility – except the figure skaters – most of them are pretty good, some are excellent. It is probably not a coincidence that they are the very best technical skaters who can carve with those deep edges and make it look effortless.

You may think that your skate boot limits your ankle mobility, but it doesn’t there is still plenty of flexibility in the boot for dorsiflexion and admittedly less for inversion and eversion.

How many of you tend to stand up in the legs a bit when you skate. Many of you do it because you get tired when you skate in a lower position, so you make it easy on yourself by standing up, but some of you do it because you lack dorsiflexion, which let’s you get low in your hips.

There are other biomechanical reasons this could occur as well, but lacking dorsiflexion is a biggie.

So if you don’t have dorsiflexion (the ability to ‘close’ the angle between the top of your foot and your shin), you cannot bring your knee forward as you squat, which means the only way to get down is by moving your hips back, which is fine to a point. Eventually you will either tip over backwards or you will be forced to bend forward at the hips bringing your torso closer to parallel with the ice.

My friend Rick Kaselj – you know him, he is the guy – and I had a little talk about dorsiflexion at the last Mastermind Meeting. Rick had a great point about how those of you who wear your skates really tight may be contributing to risk of injury in your off-ice training.

As usual Rick is thinking outside the box and I captured it all on grainy video …

If you cannot see the video above, just click here

HERE’S How To Test It…
Stand in front of a wall in your bare feet.

Find the furthest distance you can get your toes away from the wall, while still being able to bring your kneecap (in line with your second toe) forward to touch the wall WITHOUT your heel lifting off the floor.

Do you see how this brings you into ankle dorsiflexion?

Measure the distance from your big toe to the wall; your goal is five inches and I bet not many of you can do that so…

HERE’S How To Improve It…

If you cannot see the video above, just click here

Do 15 repetitions of this exercise 1-2 times per day for two weeks and it should be much improved. If it is not improved after that OR if you get a pinching or a blocked feeling in the front of your ankle, then you should get in to see a physio who can likely mobilize that to get rid of the jam and get you moving again.

This impingement or block can be the result of an old ankle sprain or even just jamming your ankle at some point where it was sore for a day or two, but then you went on with life and never thought anything of it again until now.

Happy training!


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