What Is A Bender In Hockey? (Explained for Beginners)


Hockey players use a lot of slang when they are talking about the game. One of the common slang words they use is “bender”, which is a word used to describe a player who bends their ankles when they skate. While this word may seem harmless, it’s used in a derogatory fashion to describe an ankle bender.

When you observe how different hockey players move on the ice, you may notice each one has a different technique. Even players notice how their competitors skate and will often use slang words to have a laugh when they notice something is odd. In this article, we’re going to go over what a bender is in hockey and what you should know about it.

What Is A Bender In Hockey Slang?

When other hockey players notice a player bending their ankles when they skate, they will refer to them as a bender. This is not to be confused with the other type of bender, which involves someone partying for many days in a row. Many strong players will view a bender as a weak skater. 

A bender is often new to skating and hasn’t developed the skills to keep their ankles straight. When they are on the ice, they often have trouble balancing and they may even have wobbly ankles. Most players don’t want a bender on their team because they have very little skating ability and haven’t yet learned the skills to be a valuable hockey player.

Why Do Some Hockey Players Bend Their Ankles?

It’s not just new players that are ankle benders. Some experienced players started bending when they first began playing and found the habit difficult to break. Many people notice they feel less stable on the ice, and bending their ankles gives them a feeling as though they are in control. Players who have balance issues are likely to pick up this habit. 

However, if a player is a frequent bender they may be able to get out of this habit. Once they are more comfortable on the ice, a bender may request that someone take photos of how they are skating. This is because seeing it as an observation may give them a better perspective of what they look like on the ice.

From there, they will need to work on training their leg muscles to pick up better habits on the ice. 

Do Hockey Skates Play A Role In Bending?

While hockey states aren’t the reason why a bender bends their ankles, how they wear their skates can help them improve on this habit. A hockey player needs to keep their ankles straight on the ice, however, their skates should also allow their ankles flexibility.

How a player ties their skates is very important, especially when a bender is trying to correct bad habits. For the best skating performance, a player should always make sure they are lacing their skates up correctly. The lacing should be firm enough to keep the ankles straight, but also flexible enough so they don’t keep the ankles restricted. 

Avoid Doing This When Lacing Skates

One mistake that many benders make when trying to correct the habit is tying up their laces too tight. This is a bad idea because it restricts the foot’s mobility which could lead to poor skating performance. Tight laces can also be very uncomfortable for players and may even lead to a lace burn on their skin. 

Another reason why tying laces too tightly is a bad idea is that it can cut off the circulation in the player’s foot. This may lead to numbness and foot cramps, which will affect how they play.

How To Properly Lace Skates To Correct Ankle Bending

When tying the laces to your skates, it’s important that the toes area and the section above the ankles are tied up snugly, but on the looser side. If the skates are new and on the stiff side, players should avoid tying up the top eyelets.

The area that needs the most support is above the ball of your foot back to a point right above your ankle bone, which is where the lace should be the tightest. This will ensure that your skates are tight enough to support your ankles if you may be prone to bending, but they will also be loose enough to allow flexibility.

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What To Consider If You Are A Bender

If you are a bender, it is a habit that you can adjust when you put the work into it. While lacing up your skates properly is essential for correcting the problem, you should also focus on improving your balance. Once you have better balance on the ice, you will not feel the need to bend your ankles to stay balanced.

Many new players focus on doing exercises that improve their balance, such as squats, standing heel raises, or soleus presses. When a player focuses on improving their balance and strengthening their leg and ankle muscles, they will likely see a big improvement on how they move on the ice. When players have more strength in their legs, they will have more control in skates. 

Final Thoughts

Many hockey players have a dictionary full of slang words they use that are dedicated to the game. One of these slang words you may have heard is “Bender”. A bender is a player who bends their ankles as they skate. This is a bad habit that many new players pick up because it feels as though they have better balance on the ice.

However, those watching may think they are inexperienced. Many experienced players view ankle benders as weak skaters and don’t see them as a threat on the ice. If you are an ankle bender, then you should be focused on improving the strength in your ankles as well as your legs. With practice, every bender can break this habit and have more control during the game. 

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