Figure Skating
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Off-Ice Conditioning
Improves Performance

     Ice skating sports are very physically demanding and demands stamina to perform consistently at a high level. Skaters must be in good health, able to skate their best for short periods of time (anaerobic conditioning), and yet develop the ability to recover quickly from peak periods of physical activity (aerobic conditioning). In addition, skater must also possess strength, quickness and agility. Players must learn to develop their physical abilities in all areas rather than concentrating on one or two tasks.

     It is not uncommon for skaters to feel tired during or after a practice session. Feeling tired is normal a part of participating in physical activities. Athletes can need to focus their mind on the task and with practice be able to ignore the fatigue. Warning, every athlete that is experiencing feeling pain should immediately talk to their coach or parents about it. Some individuals will attempt to practice through the pain, but this can cause minor injuries to quickly become a major problem without consulting a physician.

     All young people can benefit from participating in formal (school) programs (gym classes and sports) and/or private sports and recreational activities. It is important that every child be exposed to physical development to experience a range of fundamental movement skills that improves co-ordination, locomotion, control, balance, and manipulation. In addition to physical development, individual and team recreational sports provide children with increased confidence and self-esteem, plus provides the benefits of being healthy and active through their adult years.

     Pre-school age children need to develop control of their bodies associated with co-ordination and manipulation of their limbs, and a spatial awareness. Nurturing fundamental movement skills are important for a child to develop the skills necessary for long-term health and well-being.

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills
    The purpose of this resource is to provide teachers and assistants with support in planning, teaching and assessing Physical Development in the Foundation Stage.  Source Northern Ireland Curriculum

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Teacher's Guide PDF, 1MB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Balance PDF, 1.1MB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Catch PDF, 883KB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Hop PDF, 1.6MB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Jump (Distance) PDF, 933KB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Jump (Height) PDF, 1MB

Developing Fundamental Movement Skills: Sprint PDF, 1.4MB

Building All-Star Kids

What the Book Covers
     Parents play a critical role in the success of their child in youth sports. Unfortunately, most parents get it wrong and over 70% of all kids playing organized sports quit by age 13. Building All-Star Kids' help parents address this problem by providing insights into how parents can help shape their child's youth sports experiences so that kids continue playing longer and better. With information covering a wide variety topics, Building All-Star Kids educates parents on how to balance a child's need to have fun with the need for learning life-lessons and skills.

Building All-Star Kids is now available free for download,  click here to download, or
click here to read it online.

"I enjoyed the book. I thought it was well done, succinct, and hit on many important
topics. On our website we suggest resources for athletes, coaches, and parents and
we will recommend your book. Keep up the good work."

Larry Lauer, Ph.D.
Director of Coaching Education and Development
The Institute for theStudy of Youth Sports
Michigan State University

Do Parents Know the Right Answers?

    Improving an athlete's performance requires a training program based on the principles:

  • Specificity - applies to the Range of Movement (ROM)Athletes need to pocess the ability to have a full range of a particular notion/action associated with their sport. Exercises should be designed to target that specifically joint action required in the sporting activity. The range of movement for particular joint actions to determine the present range and future improvement.
    Body movement is mistakenly often not taught. Parents, teachers, and coaches think that children automatically learn how to run, jump, and skip. A sighted child learns through a visual (observation)
process of watching other children run and they acquire the skills through a process of trial and error.   Associated motor skills and body movements such as running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, rolling, leaping, balance, turning, and posture generally require formal instruction to maximize the desired results.     Click here for Body Movement Exercises.

Body movement is defined by reference to a plane and/or axis.  Click here for HYPERMUSCLE: MUSCLES IN ACTION.

The Three Planes of Movement -

  • Sagittal Plane - a vertical plane which passes from front to rear dividing the body into right and left sections
  • Frontal or lateral Plane - which passes from side to side at right angles to the sagittal plane which divide the body into a front and back section
  • Transverse or horizontal Plane - a horizontal plane which divides the body into an upper and lower section
The Three Axis of Movement -
  • Frontal Axis - passes from side to side at right angles to the sagittal plane
  • Sagittal or Transverse Axis - passes horizontally from front to rear lying at right angles to the frontal plane
  • Longitudinal or Vertical Axis - passes from head to foot at right angles to the transverse plane
  • Overload - athlete performs a mobility exercise, he/she should stretch to the end of his/her range of movement. In active mobility, the end of the range of movement is known as the active end position. Improvements in mobility can only be achieved by working at or beyond the active end position.
Passive Exercises involve passing the active end position, as the external force is able to move the limbs further than the active contracting of the protagonist muscles

Dynamic (Kinetic) Exercises use the momentum of the movement to bounce past the active end position.

A muscle will only strengthen when forced to operate beyond its customary intensity. The load must be progressively increased in order to further adaptive responses as training develops, and the training stimulus is gradually raised. Overload can be progressed by:

  1. increasing the resistance e.g. adding weights to the barbell
  2. increasing the number of repetitions with a particular weight
  3. increasing the number of sets of the exercise (work)
  4. increasing the intensity- more work in the same time, i.e. reducing the recovery periods
  • Recovery, Rest is required in order for the body to recover from the training and to allow adaptation to take place.
  • Adaptation, the body will react to the training loads imposed by increasing its ability to cope with those loads. Adaptation occurs during the recovery period after the training session is completed.
  • Reversibility. improved ranges of movement can be achieved and maintained by regular use of mobility exercises. If an athlete ceases mobility training, his/her ranges of movement will decline over time to those maintained by his/her other physical activities.

    When training ceases the training effect gradually is reduced at approximately one third of the rate of acquisition and much of the benefits lost/reversed after an eight-week lay-off. Athletes must continue strength training throughout their competitive period to miantain the effect. However, the training can occur at a much reduced volume, to prevent the loss of the acquired strength.

Aerobic Conditioning
    A foundation in aerobic conditioning base is necessary in a comprehensive training program to develop all of the body's core areas.

   Each layer builds the necessary physical abilities to improve performance at the next level.

   Skills such as skating and stickhandling are dependent on the body’s ability to do the work. Good physical conditioning is a foundation for everything else and becomes more important as a player gets older. Playing ability improves as players upgrade their physical shape. Skating cannot be improved with just on-ice exercises.

                                  Source University of British Columbia, Department of Zoology

How to identify body movements -
Flexion / Extension
Abduction / Adduction
Protraction / Retraction
Elevation / Depression
Pronation / Supination
Inversion / Eversion
Dorsiflexion / Plantarflexion
Opposition / Reposition

  • The table above shows you its content at a glance. If you do not know anything about this subject, go through the entire lab and test yourself by doing the exercises as you go along.
  • This outline can also be used as a short cut to access information quickly by clicking the hot keys on this table.
Defining Terms:

Aerobic Conditioning

Aerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to convert oxygen into energy. As muscles work, they get energy from two sources: food and oxygen. The better a body can use oxygen, the quicker it recovers from hard work.

   Performed for at least 20 minutes and three times a week, the following activities improve aerobic conditioning: jogging, brisk walking, swimming, biking, ice skating and roller skating.

Anaerobic Conditioning

    Anaerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to work very hard for short periods of time. A single shift on the ice should be played at full speed and tests a player’s anaerobic conditioning. For example, when players skate as fast as they can down the ice, the longer the time before they feel tired, the better anaerobic shape they are in.

   It is tougher to develop good anaerobic abilities because the only way to do so is by exercising harder and longer with high intensity and high-speed exercises. The following exercises improve anaerobic conditioning: sprinting, foot racing and skating full speed down the length of the ice.

Strength Training, Quickness and Agility
    Most doctors agree that children under the age of 10 should not weight train. Nonetheless, exercise that builds stamina such as running and resistance training provide a good way to exercise muscles without risking injury.

    Resistance training is using the body like a weight set. Common resistance type exercises that help build strength are: pushups. chin-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts and squats.

   To build quickness, look at exercises that involve rapid feet movement. Good ways to build quickness include jumping, bounding, hopping and skipping rope.

   Agility is the ability to start, stop and change direction quickly. Agility is built by moving the feet quickly in a variety of movements such as quick turns and cuts. Agility can be increased by obstacle courses, zig-zag running, side shuffles and playing tag.

Welle Fast: Programs Preconditioning-Instructional, Body Movement, Aerobic Conditioning, Speed Dynamics and Muscle Memory, Agility Dynamics and. Muscle Memory, Power ...

    The most efficient way to train for any sport is to participate in practices of the sport. The problem is that too much practicing the sport can result in injury and overuse problems. Therefore, simulating the moveme movements without playing actually participating in th sport would be an excellent way to supplement workouts. For example: The following workout simulates the movements in a racquetball match and takes about 20 minutes.  Click here for a Racquetball Off-court Exercise Workout Session.

Other Sports

     In addition to dedicated exercising, playing other sports is a good way to work on all aspects of physical development.  Sports to consider include:
  • Baseball – builds hand eye coordination and quickness

  • Basketball – builds stamina, passing and team skills

  • Golf – builds hand/eye coordination

  • Lacrosse – builds stamina and quickness

  • Roller hockey – uses most of the same skills as ice hockey

  • Soccer – builds stamina, team skills, footwork, position play

  • Tennis – builds feet quickness and hand/eye coordination

Key Points for Parents

  • Kids are exposed to a great deal of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning during normal play and sports activities.  One of the best ways to build on their physical abilities is to let them play other sports along with hockey.  Cross training is essential for body and mind.
  • Exercise at early ages should be fun and parents can encourage their children by joining in and exercising with them.
  • Rest before a game is important.  Parents should monitor their child’s activities before the game and adjust as required.
  • Young players sometimes complain about fatigue because, for them, getting that tired by working is a new experience.  Their tolerance improves as they experience fatigue more and get used to the feeling.

Key Points for Players

  • If you are working hard and getting tired during your shift, you are building your anaerobic conditioning.
  • If you are very tired at the end of a period or after a game, you are building your aerobic conditioning.
  • If you have trouble getting to the puck, you need to work on your quickness and agility.
  • Consistent exercise is the best way to stay in shape.

Interesting perspective into this discussion can be found at Sports Esteem.


Training Considerations

Developing A Training Plan

Physical and Mental Training Considerations


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:
Off-Ice Training
PDF  Cool Down Exercises
PDF  Warm Up Exercises
PDF  Off-Ice Training For Figure Skaters
PDF  USFS Training Program

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.

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