San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
Off-Ice Activities for Skaters
Ballet ExercisesRecommended Reading:
Before lacing up your skates, it is highly desirable to perform stretching and warm up exercises. This can prevent muscle strains and tears. The off-ice warm-up saves time that would otherwise be spent in warming up on the ice.
Low impact aerobic exercises are especially important and should become a part of a regular pre skating stretching and and post skating cooling down period.
The most effective way to improve your stretching is to stretch every day before and after on ice practice sessions. You also can stretch after awakening in the morning or before going to bed at night. With stretching, more is better than less, but never stretch to the point of pain, and never stretch an injury unless under the supervision of your supervising physician.
Ballet classes can be very helpful in improving basic posture, developing presentation and musical expression, plus learning how to control the core body by "find your body's center" (shoulders,
hips, and feet in a vertical line).
Using the barre for stretching is especially appropriate to perform static positions such as a sit spin, camel spin, arabesque spiral, split jump. These exercises are very similar to the ice skating activities.
The majority of figure skating activities use all the muscle groups, rather than isolating certain muscles.
When working on highly specific skills such as jumps and spins, the preferred choice to target the major muscle groups but are specific to the performance of the skating skill.
The Plié in ballet is when a dancer bends his or her knees and then straightens them in a smooth continuous movement. This is the same movement in skating that allows the:
Plie's train the body in shape and placement. Plies should be performed in in all of the 5 basic positions of ballet. There are two kinds of plies, demi and grand. In demi plies, the knees are bent halfway. In grand plies, the knees are completely bent.
The five basic positions of ballet are important because every basic move in ballet begins and ends in one of the positions. There is a strong transference of many ballet skills and presentation in skating performances.
The Ballet Combination Book, 4th Edition contains over 250 combinations for the ballet class. This book is designed to help you with a multitude of choices and ideas. You'll find basic technique ideas for young dancers, as well as more difficult combinations for the intermediate dancer.
Stretching and relaxing muscles does not diminish your muscle tone. It
does the opposite. Muscles that retain tension are weaker than muscles
that are relaxed properly with correct stretching.
stretch position should be held or 15-30 seconds and Never Bounce or pulsate. The
foot on the floor should be flat. Going onto the toe does NOT provide
any positive transfer for figure skaters. Stretching movements done
improperly can cause serious injuries.
Ballet requires the same high level of athletic ability to master the dance technique as it does any sports skill. The precision and strength of ballet moves requires the development great muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and total body control. Perfecting form and the techniques require hours of repetitive movement that stresses muscles and joints. It is essential to warm-up gradually before stretching to prevent injury and assisting loosen tight muscles.Always perform stretches after your muscles are warm; a five minute warm-up will suffice in normal room temperatures. In a colder environment, lengthen the warm-up period. There are five types of stretching:
Proprioceptors are specialized sensory receptors on nerve endings found in muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear. These receptors relay information about motion or position and make us aware of our own body position and movement in space. Proprioceptors detect subtle changes in movement, position, tension, and force, within the body. The proprioceptors of the musculoskeletal system are found in the tendons and in the muscle fibers.
Source of illustrations - Dance About. com
training is surrounded by a lot of hype in the world of skating.
Many skaters participate, many coaches highly recommend it, and are
supported by trainers who teach group classes and private lessons.
Off-Ice Training may occur
because ice time
may not be available at a reasonable price and time that is suitable to
the age group of the athlete during the regular winter skating season
or in intervening months after the conclusion of the winter competitive
season and the start of training for the next competitive season.
The typical sales pitches made by pitch men in the late 1800's and early 1900's "medicine shows" and carnivals that traveled throughout the midwest and western USA were deceptively false and misleading to close a sale. Is the off-ice training justifiable according to objective, scientific research that measures increases in athletic performance? Parents should question glowing testimonials that are proffered as factual evidence rather than based on data resulting of scientific research.
Parents really need to know the
details of what
off-ice training involves, what it
realistically will accomplish, and the full costs. A parent may sign up
their child for
off-ice training solely based upon the recommendations of the their
really knowing what the benefits and potential downside of their
Parents should have a better understanding
of the proper forms of
all exercise programs:
Each of the ice skating sports has specific physical, mental, and emotional skill requirements. Each sport - speed skating, hockey, and figure skating put significant strength and flexibility demands on the body. Skaters are among of the strongest and best trained athletes in the world.
Some athletes have sufficient
balance, and core strength that will allow them to quickly move up
through the lower levels
of skating skill development, but the majority of skaters need to
follow a specific training program to acquire those attributes that are
necessary in order to progress to higher levels.
the "naturally talented" skaters reach a level where natural ability
can not take
them further. The core strength and plyometric strength requirements of
the sport are significant, and at some point, a skater needs to
their strength, enhance their coordination, and develop higher
thresholds of endurance/ stamina beyond what he or she is naturally
Completing a professionally
and approved off-ice
training program at a minimum of twice a week, should result in skaters
making steady progress that translates to their
on-ice skills. Ideally this should occur at a much faster pace than
they would otherwise achieve without the off-ice training. The goal is
for the athlete to be able to handle the physical strength
demands associated with advanced jumping and spinning associated with
the need to meet the escalating technical and performance demands of
programs that increase in length with each higher event level.
It is the stability of the core (shoulders to hips) that allow a skater to maintain the control of their entire body to accomplish the specific tasks associated with each skating discipline:
Figure Skaters must achieve the minimum necessary height to perform single and multi-revolution jumps. A skater requires significant plyometric strength throughout the lower extremity, especially the quads and gluteal muscles. This can only be gained with functional and plyometric strengthening off of the ice. Here are some examples of the specific attributes a skater needs to succeed in the sport of figure skating:
Core strength and stability
3) Strength and power
Muscle strength creates power over the ice surface and for propelling the skater into the air, plus provides endurance necessary to improve and become consistent. Through exercise, a muscle's fibers become tighter and stronger, and can withstand more repetition for longer duration when asked to contract. Increases in strength can correlate with higher jumps, more stable landings, increased energy output, and increased ability to maintain a number of the spin variations required in the IJS.
Not all Exercises will
Produce a Positive Benefit!
Functional exercises are designed to train the body to mimic the movement of the specific motions performed in their sport. Sports require developing a much high degree of strength, flexibility, and coordin- ation than otherwise would be required of a non athlete. These abilities need to be nurtured through add- itional training and ice skating is no exception!
What Schedule is Recommended
for Off-ice training exercises?
Depending on the skater's
and goals, a
competitor may do off-ice training five days per week, as opposed to a
recreational skater's program of one day a week. It is recommended to
complete two to four days of off-ice training per week, depending on
your level. Even if you choose to complete an off-ice training routine
per week, you will show gains in strength, flexibility, and on-ice
consistency. You take your training into your own hands, and control
your own progress. You can find sample off-ice training periodization
schedules through www.usfigureskating.org
in the Sk8Strong Off-ice
Training for Figure Skaters Manual.
Downes, MSPT is the owner of Sk8Strong Inc. and is a licensed physical
Starting an off-ice training
To insure that a skater
is using proper
technique a parent must ensure the trainer has a degree in a
health related field, ideally a physical therapy degree. There are also
several respectable strength and conditioning certifications available
from the NSCA and NASM, such as the Certified Strength
Specialist and Performance Enhancement
designations. It is important to work with someone qualified in order
injury to the athlete, and receive the maximum benefit for the funds
The Effects of the 5 Ballet Foot Positions The Effects of the 5 Ballet Foot. Positions on Spinal and Lower. Extremity Posture.
Dance Stretching Exercises
Art of Ballet ~ Stretching Stretching is a vital part of any exercise program and athletics. ... You do not learn the steps in ballet and then execute them perfectly immediately - it takes lots of practice.
How to Do Splits An illustrated, step-by-step tutorial for learning how to do side and center splits.
Straddle Stretch Routine for Splits A step-by-step guide illustrating how to stretch to increase flexibility for doing the splits.
Leg Hold A leg hold is a beautiful step for showing flexibility. Learning how to do a leg hold takes practice, and a lot of stretching.
Jazz Stretch for Hamstrings An illustrated step-by-step guide to stretching your hamstrings and strengthening your back and arms for jazz dancing.
Jazz Hip Stretch An illustrated, step-by-step guide to performing a hip stretch for jazz.
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 information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
All materials are copy protected.
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.