Hockey pivots

How to pivot in Ice Hockey

Pivots and transitions are very frequent elements in every hockey game. Hockey has changed a lot in last 20 years. Players are faster, unpredictable and they are strong. Game situations are changing quickly in very short time frames from attack to defense and back, therefore hockey players must be able execute various movements with laser accuracy in fraction of second. Pivots use players in attack and defense as well. In attack are they used mostly by player who needs to get opened, to be able receive pass. Player must keep eye contact with his teammates and that gives him possibility variable react on every single situation on ice. Puck carriers uses pivots if he needs cover puck or when he is maneuvering in the attacking zone.

Pivots are widely used when doing transitions and also in defense as well. In defense are pivots used when covering zone, gap control,  body positioning and angling. For doing pivots in full speed, player must have dynamic balance and stability skills at high level.


  • Mohawk
  • Two legs pivot
  • Two legs pivot decelerated

Pivot technique and biomechanics

Forward to Backward Mohawk

Mohawk can be used when transitioning from skating forward to skating backward (see clip on right hand side)

where player is positioning to be ready shoot one-timer. Mohawk is used in ice hockey very often and it is popular typ of pivoting. When well executed, players are almost not loosing any speed. When doing mohawk to right continues left foot gliding straight forward. Gradually player must transfer all his weight to left foot while right foot flex hip and laterally rotates. At this point are both heels facing each other followed by weight transfer to right foot. Left foot flexes hip and medially rotates. At the end are both skates in gliding backwards. Transition forward is executed by reversed actions. Common errors are upper body vertical movement, insufficient dorsiflexion, knee and hip flexion. Poor lateral and medial lower limb rotation. Difficult to predict root cause, however it can be poor knowledges or poor technique. In other cases that can postural abnormalities like shortened medial or lateral rotators of lower limb, or shortened extensors of lower limb. Shortened medial rotators prevents
from facing heels against each other. Shortened lateral rotators of lower limb have the same negative effect on skaters front foot.

In clip on left side represents player Kevin Fiala how to use transition forward and backward when attacking. Key point is keep level, that has been achieved by dorsiflexion and knee and hip flexion. Flexed joints help produce movement range and also better acceleration. He start accelerating immediately when transition backward is done by outside edge left foot push of. Here I must refer to sharp angle between his left foot and surface.  All mentioned elements are in close coexistence with flexion of right hip, knee and dorsiflexion.

Two legs pivot

Two legs pivots are very often in hockey game and it’s beloved by many players. The major reason is that two leg pivot can be used when attacking and defending as well. Another advantage is that player might not loos eye contact with teammates or opponent players. They can quickly react on situation change and adjust their tactics and activities.

Two legs pivot to right. Player is skating straight, instantly before pivoting is player gliding at two foot glide, level is low. 

Top players in hockey game can reduce time frame of this activity to fraction of seconds. Follows lower limbs extension with hip rotation to right side and weight transfer on front half of the skates. Both skates are parallel and in this point skater starts moving backward. Edges work is essential, both edges – outside and inside edge are in use while moving in arc.


Aidelbaum, B. Barb Aidelbaum Skating Schools. Training tips and articles.

Stamm, L. 2001. Laura Stamm’s Power Skating. Third edition. Human Kinetics.