The Learning Process
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Developing Skating Skills

Stages of Acquiring Physical and Mental Skills
      Ice skating requires different types of physical and mental skills to be successful. Athletes acquire these skills at different rates depending on their personality, natural abilities and the availability quality coaching with practice sessions exclusively for training in the specific discipline.

      Skaters who are luckily enough to training at a rink where elite skaters are training will be inspired to concentrate on their training and what the level of skating is necessary to be successful in the sport. Such a facility becomes a "Mecca" that attracts elite coaches and skaters with a quality year round training schedule and a fully equipped gym with off-ice exercise/fittness equipment.

      Most skaters can acquire the ability to perform the basic edges, stroking, crossovers, and turns providing they focus on developing these skills rather than spending too much effort on attempting to acquire free skating skills.


Forward Stroking
It is common for skaters at every age to want to advance quickly without investing the time to learn the basics thoroughly. Errors acquired, as a beginning skater, will not magi-cally disappear.

The time, effort, and financial investment to correct basic skating errors suggests that rushing through this learning phase reduces the progress of a skater who is serious about achieving their goal of becoming a hockey or figure skater. Everything you will learn to do as a skater is built on the basic, fundamental skating skills.

Refer to: PDF Forward Stroking

Correct body posture
Developing the correct body posture and balance is essential - your body should be up-right, chin up, with your knees bent - if you lean forward your weight will also shift forward and cause you to catch your toe resulting in an unexpected fall or face plant requiring stitches to repair the injury to your chin.

Developing the correct body posture and balance is essential - your body should be up-right, chin up, with your knees bent - if you lean forward your weight will cause you to lose your balance and fall forward.

Backward Stroking
Skating backwards is very different from skating forward in that:
  • The physics of the back pushes are more difficult than the forward pushes.
  • The transfer of weight from one foot to another can’t be accomplished ina straight line as is possible in forward stroking.
  • It is difficult to watch where you are going while learning to skate backwards.
The objective in backward stroking for beginners is to balance on shallow back inside edges and then transfer this skill to glide on shallow back outside edges.

Both back outside and inside edges require learning a “rat tail” push that is much more difficult to learn than pushing from forward outside and inside edges.

Refer to: PDF Backward Stroking

Each skate blade has an outside and an inside edge. Skaters perform edges in the figure eight circle which are equal in size and shape when evaluated by both a long and short axis curves.

Outside and Inside Figure Eights and smaller segments (arcs/curves) are the basic foundation for skating forward and backwards.

With practice, a skater is able to complete a full circle that returns to the initial starting location by holding their balance. No steering of the foot is necessary. Note the free leg moves from stretching backwards when completing the push, to extending forward over the tracing when completing the half or full circle. Arms are held at waist high.

A skater’s edge control allows them to begin learning basic turns on two feet from forward to backward and backward to forward. As their skating improves they learn more advanced one foot turns (Three Turn) and change of foot turns (Mohawks). 

Turns involve turning from forward to backwards and backwards to forward. The can be performed entirely on one foot or involving a change of foot.

Starting from a deep moving curve, the skater turns backward and holds their free leg off the ice. There should be continuous movement over the ice without any loss of speed or control, wobble or subcurves, while controlling the free leg as they glide back to the center.

The object is to perform the turns with no loss of flow, good upper body control, and no change of edge or scraping of the turn.

Refer to : PDF  Forward Outside 3-Turns

Forward Crossovers:
The body should begin in an aligned position with the feet in a parallel position with the hips and shoulders squared.

The right arm should extend forward at waist height. Your left arm will be extended be behind at the same height over the tracing. Relax and push your shoulders down. The shoulders should be directly over the hips. Skaters commonly mistake leaning forward for increasing their speed. It is a major mistake to lean forward at the waist.

Bend both knees and push off from the entire inside edge of your right blade without pushing from the toe!

It is essential that the skater master the ability to achieve equal power from BOTH feet. The stroking should be an even tempo/rhythm in both clockwise and counter clockwise directions. The skater should lean and look into the center of the circle.

Refer to: PDF Forward Crossovers

Backward Crossovers

Learning to skate fast is not very useful if you are unable to execute a controlled stop at a high speed. After a skater learns to skate forward in a straight line, they must learn how to skate in a circle

Use a hockey circle as a guide, bending your knees. Look into the circle to be sure there’s no one you will run into. Your arms should be waist level with the lead shoulder being slightly lower. The right arm will lead and the left arm will be over the tracing.

Start with the feet parallel feet. Use your left inside edge to perform the first push to start moving backwards on the right outside edge and gliding while the left foot crossover in of the right foot. The right foot extends backwards over the arc to achieve maximum power.

Some skater performs their crossovers by only a crossing behind motion of the right foot, which results in a jerky movement with the right foot providing of the work with the pulling stroke. It is important to bend your knees and lean into the circle with your upper body in alignment.

It is essential that the skater master the ability to achieve equal power from BOTH feet. The stroking should be an even tempo/rhythm in both clockwise and counter clockwise directions. The skater should lean into the center of the circle and look in the direction of travel.

Hockey and figure skaters should be able to perform forward and backward crossovers in both directions in a large figure 8 at full power.

Refer to: PDF Backward Crossovers

Learning to skate fast in the clockwise and counter clockwise directions when going forward or backwards is useful if you are able to execute a controlled stop while traveling at a high speed.

Snowplow Stop - Ice Skating Move Snowplow Stop
The snowplow stop is performed with the toes of the skates pointing forming a pigeon-toed position. The beginner skates slowly in a forward direction. While gliding, bend the knees and lean back- wards slightly while pushing the skates apart as the feet form a pigeon-toed position. The blades will skid and produce the friction necessary to come to a complete stop.

Skaters need to be able to stop in CW and CCW directions when going backward as well as forward.

Hockey Stop:

Even figure skaters should learn how to perform a hockey-stop. This stop allows skaters to abruptly stop, even when skating fast. Hockey players frequently use this stop. Turning both skates in the same direction, parallel to the direction skating, performs the stop. Ice skaters should learn the hockey-stop in both forward and backward, clockwise and counter clockwise directions.

Execution of a hockey-stop begins by skating forward or backward at a moderate speed in a CCW and CW direction. Arms should be at waist level forming a straight line as if holding a hockey stick. The skates should be slightly apart with knees bent. The stop is imitated by simultaneously twisting the shoulders in one direction and the feet in the opposite direction.

Depending on the turning direction of the body, the leading skate will be on an outside or inside edge. The trailing foot will be on the opposite edge. The hips and skates are turned sideways; the head, chest and stomach should be facing the skating direction.

To complete a controlled stop, the head should be looking straight ahead and upper body should be directly inline with the knees and hips, leaning back to counter act falling forward and the body stops abruptly.

Recommended Reading:

Welcome to the Trenton Figure Skating Club  STARSkate offers opportunities to Trenton Figure Skating Club, Box 21003, Pharma Plus, 109 Dundas St, Trenton. ON Canada. Program develops figure skating skills in four different areas.

Basic Skills - Welcome to US Figure Skating  Developed by U.S. Figure Skating and approved by the Professional Skaters Association (PSA), the Basic Skills Program is open to anyone interested. A small fee is required to become a Basic Skills member.

Skating in the Schools - Welcome to US Figure Skating  An exciting, new skating program created by U.S. Figure Skating for use by the educational community, "Skating in the Schools" fosters a link between schools, the fun and fitness of skating and the local rink. A guide relating skating skill development to educational theory.

Basic Skills Parents - Welcome to US Figure Skating  Learning skills and mastering those skills is an important part of child development.

PDF Figure Skating Programs and Development/  Basic Figure Skating Programs and Development/Pipeline of Figure Skating. U.S. Figure SkatingSkills Program. Bridge Program/Junior Club.
  • Fundamental motor skill development   The fundamental skill phase of development begins in early childhood at about te age of two to three years, and individuals have the potential to be fully proficient in most of the skills by about six years.
     Fundamental motor skills (i.e. hopping, jumping, skipping, kicking, throwing, catching etc.) are prerequisites to learning of sport specific skills (basketball, football, gymnastics, tennis, badminton, etc.).  Sport specific skills are comprised of fundamental skills. It is very difficult to obtain proficiency in sport skills unless the prerequisite fundamental skills are present.  A person's gross motor skill development depends on both their muscle tone and strength.
  • Gross Motor Skill Development  Gross motor skills are defined as the movements of the large muscles of the body that involve such essential activities such as walking and sitting upright, plus sports related skills such as kicking, lifting, throwing a ball, etc..
     There are five senses that are commonly discussed: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. One overlooked sense, known as proprioception and kinesthesia, is the sensation of joint motion and acceleration that provides the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. This sense allows the brain to unconsciously keep the body oriented and balanced while sending out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance.

     A great amount of training in motor activities relies on enhancing propreception activities.  Proprioception input comes from sensory receptors or nerves inside the body rather than on the skin's surface.

     Learning any new motor skill involves training our body's proprioceptive sense which involves our ability to move our arms or legs in a precise way without looking at them.  Proprioception is so automatic that our conscious mind barely notices it. Thus it does not receive the attention it deserves in a training program; however, the ability can be trained, as can any other motor activity.

     Gross motor skills include:

  1. balance – the ability to maintain equilibrium
  2. body awareness – for improved posture and control
  3. crossing of the mid-line
  4. laterality – awareness of the left and right sides of the body
  5. major muscle coordination
  6. spatial orientation – awareness of the body position in space and in relation to other objects or people
  • Fine Motor Skill Development   skills are our ability to use our fingers, hands, and arms together to reach, grasp, manipulate small objects such as forks, spoons, crayons and scissors.  Through the process of coordinating Fine Motor Skills integrated with our abilities enable us to learn complex skills such as tying a shoe lace, fastening buttons, eating with a fork & knife, and printing, handwriting, typing, etc.
  • Sensory Integration  deals with how the brain processes multiple sensory modality inputs into usable functional outputs. It is believed that inputs from different sensory organs are processed in different areas in the brain. However, different regions of the brain may not be solely responsible for only one sensory modality, but could use multiple inputs to perceive what the body senses about its environment.


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a
web presence with concerning team and individual sports programs:

Training Considerations

Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Guidelines for Training
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan


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