D Skating: Sam Girard Turn

D Skating: Sam Girard Turn


Am I the only one who is impressed by Sam Girard every time he is on the ice? I have had the pleasure of watching him since 2012-2013 because I was coaching against him, and even back then he was using the “Girard turn” from a young age. “Hybrid turn,” “Escape,” “Girard turn” or what I like to call it, the “Ankle Breaker turn” because so many times we have seen the opponent falling to the ice or turning the wrong way and getting beat easily.

For this blog, I will show you how COL49 has mastered the turn and how he catches the opponent flat footed so easily. With his agility, Girard is one of the quickest defencemen in the league. He can turn on a dime and has an explosive first couple steps to leave the opponent in the dust.



We can get lost with all the terminology that all the coaches are using. Let’s keep the Girard turn for this one. You use this technique when you try to beat the forecheck or on the transition when under pressure. If you practice your agility, you will get better. Better edges, better control. Eyes up and good balance are some of the keys.

When teaching the technique, make sure to emphasis not exposing the puck, underhandling, and the first couple strides after the turn. 


Five key points when teaching this technique are:

  1. Quick feet, blade engagement on Inside Edge 
  2. Deception before turning, shifting weight, shoulder checking.
  3. No-stickhandling and keeping the puck away from the opponent.
  4. Good balance in an athletic stance.
  5. Explosiveness first couple steps after the turn.

Below, I’ve outlined a five-drill progression that you can use to help your players work on the “Girard Turn.” All drills can be found in the CoachThem Marketplace so you can easily add them to your personal playbook.


NEW: Click on video icon in rink for the Drill video!

Below Practice Plan can be found in our Marketplace.


1. Sam Girard Turn - Activation 1

Players are set up in 3 lines on the goalline and work up ice, with partners. The player in front should have a a stick in each hand, and the partner in behind being pulled should be set up the at the other end of those sticks.

Players move with their partner pulling them, and the work one foot, inside edge and outside edge, scrapping the blade along the ice.

Idea of this drill is to understand where are the edge on the blade and how do you feel.

2. Sam Girard Turn - Activation 2

Get players comfortable with the steps to perform a hybrid tight turn, along with including Pucks.

  1. Players move at 50%, transfer weight to one foot, perform outside edge push on the other foot. Switch feet on the way back, base on the group.
  2. Upper/lower dissociation Puck Spot - Players spot a puck from side to side around their body, and back towards their feet, while their feet move in the opposite direction. On the FH Side, players will work to not cross the hands, but pull the top hand in beside the body.
  3. Players now work up to the red line at 75-100%, perform a hybrid turning back to the blueline where they perform a tight turn, up to the far blue line where they perform a hybrid again, and back to the red line performing a regular tight turn.

3. Sam Girard Turn - Escape

By working with the circle, you can add more players into the drills with more reps and with a guideline (circle line)

The player starts on the hashmark and skate 1/4 of the circle. He engages his edge and turns. Importance of the weight transfer.


4. *Sam Girard Turn - Adding a Shot

  • Coach can make the pass or the player.
  • D1 start backwards. He receive the pass from D2 or the coach on his forehand. From here, you can ask your D to use deception (higher level).
  • After, D engage his edge to turn back and escape (sam girard turn).
  • Part B (with a shot)
  • Same as Part A but, after escaping, pass back to the line, open up for a one-timer.

5. Sam Girard Turn - SAQ

  • 2v2 small area game.
  • Goal = 1pts
  • Sam Girard Turn (withing 1 stick length) = 3pts
  • It's a great way to challenge your players in practice to execute something you have worked in practice. Make sure if you are the coach, to be aware. We do not want to see our players doing the Sam Girard turn with no pressure. The Rule, the opponent has to be at 1 stick length max from the puck carrier to receive the 3pts.



Blog by CoachThem Contributor, Mitch Giguere

Mitch Giguere, ChPC, is the father of four children and a passionate hockey coach, currently working for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL). Previously, he worked with the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, was the video coach for the Winnipeg Ice (WHL). Mitch has his High Performance 2 from Hockey Canada and has an Advanced Coaching Diploma (NCCP4) from the Canadian Sports Institute. You can follow his popular video breakdown on Instagram/Twitter @Coach_Mitch85 and Facebook Behind The Bench for more great hockey content.



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