Andy & Diane Ness

Inside Mohawks


By Diane Ness


The Mohawk turn is a skill so essential to your game, regardless if you are a forward or a defenseman, because you are continually turning to face the puck during any given play. It is a skill that is so important, it is worth working your practice around.

So what is a Mohawk turn?

It is a somewhat confusing term. It is a very old figure skating term that means the skater goes forward on one foot to backwards on the other foot (edge to edge). This is not to be confused with a heel-to-heel turn in which the skater holds his/her toes out in an arch position. So basically a Mohawk turn is going from edge to edge while moving forward to backward. You can also perform this turn from backwards to forwards, again, going from one foot to the other foot. We will focus on the forward Mohawk for this article.

There are a couple of ways to do this depending on a skater’s skill level. For the younger skaters, we will break it down into three simple steps for the front to back turn. Step 1 is to glide on one foot forward and turn your shoulders in the direction you want to go. Step 2 is to put your other skate down backwards. It’s important to note, if you put your foot down too soon, you will create a skid, thus slowing down the turn. Step 3 is a hockey position while skating backwards. A common mistake on this step is bending forward at the waist which could cause you to loose speed or fall forward.

This turn is a hard concept to grasp for young players, so they may want to try it step by step while holding on to the boards. Slowly glide forward on one foot, switch feet, then glide backwards on the other foot.

Finally, for the more advanced player, using the Mohawk turn means turning in two quick steps, not three. There are a few tricks you can work on where you will actually pick up speed while you are turning.

You will still be turning from one foot forward to the other foot backward, but the trick is to carve a backwards C cut with the pushing foot at the exact same time you set the gliding foot down. Make sure you are gliding straight back. By carving that C cut right out of the turn, you will gain speed as you use that pushing foot correctly. You are also in a good position with the gliding foot to continue your speed. Make sure there is no body-lean forward after you turn backwards as this will slow you down. Instead of just maintaining speed the goal should actually be to pick up speed once the turn is completed.
Diane Ness has been a full-time professional skating coach for over 35 years. She has coached both figure skaters and hockey players alike and is a former U.S. gold medalist in figure skating. She is the Director for the Pro Edge Power hockey camps and the Learn to Skate program at Highland Park Arena. Ness is the skating coach for the New Jersey Devils, the University of Minnesota men’s and women’s hockey teams and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. She has trained players in the NHL, AHL, NCAA, USHL and NAHL.