Bender / Ankle-Bender = Poor skater who bends at their ankles as they struggle for balance and power. Often looking like this:
Or like this:
Given “bender” is a negative term, all hockey players want to avoid bending their ankles. Yet when looking at great skaters, they are fantastic about bending at their ankles.
Inside of bending inside as the images above show, they have ankle dorsiflexion (a.k.a. “Flexion”) in a forward direction that allows their knee to push forward over their toes. Commonly known as their shin angle. Straight shin angles are poor. Lower degrees are what skaters are after
Let’s talk about your ‘eyelets’
What is an eyelet? Simply, it’s the opening that you thread your skate laces through. Here is a photo of my skate without the top 2 eyelets laced.
Often you’ll see players that are unable to overcome their skate laces holding their ankles in place. This is why you’ll see players, almost unanimously, going down 1 or 2 eyelets. A newer trend is tying up the top lace while skipping the 2nd eyelet.
Over on twitter I posted photos from some of the best players in the world. They are extra large HD photos so you can open them and zoom in to see for yourself.
Be a Bender
Next time you are on the ice we encourage you to become a bender… just in the proper way to give greater ankle flexion and improve your skating. Skip an eyelet or two and have fun with it.
While everyone is after good knee bend for excellent skating, it’s really all in the ankles.
Further reading - The key element to every elite shot… body shape
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