San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
Off-Ice Training for Skaters
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 justifyable 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.
Do parents really know how the details of what
off-ice training involves, and what it
realisticly will accomplish? 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:
Should skaters do exercises
Some athletes have sufficient natural
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 designed
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 core body stability that allow a skater to maintain the control of their body to accomplish the specific tasks associated with each specific 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 ffofr 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 durations 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 benfit!
Functional exercises are designed to train the body to mimic the movement of the specific motions performed in thier sport. Sports require developing a much high degree of strength, flexibility, and coordination than otherwise would be required of a non-athlete. These abilities need to be nutured through additional training and ice skating is no exception!
What Schedule is recommended
for Off-ice training exercises?
Depending on the skater's level, schedule,
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 trainerhas 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 and
Conditioning Specialist' and 'Performance Enhancement Specialist'
designations. It is important to work with someone qualified inorder to
injury to the athlete, and receive the maximum benefit ffor the funds
Principles of Training Athletes:
Developing Course Materials:
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:
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.