Andy & Diane Ness

Forward and backward leg pulls

By Diane Ness


Leg pulls are one of the most complicated edge drills to execute, but at the same time should look simple and effortless when done correctly. A leg pull is a drill in which the skater takes one or two pushes, balances on one skate, and pushes from each edge to keep speed. This skater must go the length of the ice on one foot without touching the other skate to the ice. 

The only way to provide speed and movement is by shifting from inside edge to outside edge while pushing each time. When generating speed from flipping from edge to edge, the skater must be cautious of not “rutting” into the ice which will create friction and cause the skater to slow down or stop completely. It is a combination of power, edge strength and balance that will allow the skater to move down the ice.

To execute a forward leg pull, the skater must push from the middle back part of the blade to provide speed. We use the analogy of having a motor in the back of the boat to provide the power to move forward. 

Each time a skater pushes from edge to edge, he/she should gain enough speed to continue to move on one leg.  For advanced skaters, they should try to use one leg going the length of the ice, then switching feet (without any strides taken) and coming back down the other side on the opposite leg. This will teach the skater where the “sweet spot” is on their blade as well as providing a good leg burn.

Doing a backward leg pull is a little different. A skater needs to remember what part of the blade to be on. If a skater is using the middle back part of the blade moving forward, then he/she should use the middle front part of the blade while moving backwards. 

The skater needs to remember to keep his/her chest and shoulders up while moving backwards. If your chest leans to far forward you will lose all of your speed and momentum while you are trying to move backwards. Backwards is quite a bit more difficult, especially for younger skaters so patience is required when trying to tackle these skills.

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.