Friday, May 23, 2008

Improve Your Balance To a Better Skate

Do you feel that the people at the skating rink seem to have a much better balance than you? You are a fairly good skater, but you seem to be having some difficulties at staying balanced on the ice. You wonder if it is the boot they are wearing that might create such firm grips into the ice, and you are hoping to find any skates that will keep you better balanced. While if your blades are not well sharpened, you may drift on the ice, but balance in general depends a lot on your center of gravity.

The more you skate the better your balance. In time you will develop strong abs. These muscles are formed by just simply standing on the ice. You might not be aware of it but by just standing on the ice you are using your abs. But I would also recommend that you do yoga and pilates as off ice training for balance. Now you can use the new revolutionized Wii fit balance board; it is awesome. It features four main areas: yoga, strength training, aerobic exercise, balance training. It is not a replacement for off-ice training, however, it can be helpful.

To improve balance you need to work on your leg muscles and your core muscles the most, well any kind of stretches and also balance boards may be helpful; or you can put your back flat to the wall and go into a sitting position and then you make sure your legs are at a 90-degree angle. A weak lower body is equal to little or no balance on the ice. You will need to work on your arms and upper body as well. Find a point of focus. Concentrate on something in front of you; if you look at your feet, you tend to fall easier. When you glide, do not push off your toe pick, try and push off from the side of your skate. You won’t make a scratching sound and it will prevent you from catching your toe pick on the ice and falling. When you glide, you want to bend a lot into your knees and push off the ice hard with your edges.

Try these quick simple tests to establish how balance you are:

Put each sock completely on your foot while standing solely on the other.
If you have to move your grounded foot around or hop around to keep your balance, your balance is probably not up to the basics of a reasonable figure skater. Most figure skaters don’t need to move from the spot while on one leg.

Also, another test is to close your eyes and stand absolutely steady for a half minute; have someone tell you whether you swayed at all or whether you were still able to keep perfect balance. This will be worth knowing if you are a figure skater.

Balance has to do with your center of gravity. The lower your center of gravity is, the easier it is to balance. The shorter you are, the closer you are to the ice. Do you ever marvel at how can fall while skating and get up as if nothing happened and resume skating? The reason most adults are insecure on the ice is usually due to their distance away from the ice, especially if they are very tall. In order to build up muscle strength, it takes exercises and a lot of muscle memory. Bending your knees is the most important thing you will learn as a skater. When you are skating forward, it can help to think of pushing your feet right down into the ice, through the balls of your feet. That way, your weight stays over the right part of the blade constantly and you should feel a little more stable. Remember to keep your knees bent.

Try some off-ice exercises.

When you are at home just practice standing on one leg and bending it.

1. Stand on one foot with your other foot held up but not touching your leg, arms outstretched to the side as you would in skating, head held up. When you can do that for 30 seconds on each leg, repeat it with your eyes closed. If you have no problem with that, buy a wobble board, a half foam roller, a BOSU board, anything that makes balance harder as you practice your way to better balance.

2. Do basic core exercises - crunches for instance. A strong core makes balance easier.

If you choose to use weights, keep it light three or 5lb. weights will be fine if you are new at it. It's better to do more reps (15 - 20) with less weight than fewer reps with more weight. Talk to your coach or someone at the rink who specializes in off-ice training for additional assistance.
Before you go on the ice, it is important that you warm up first just basic jogging on the spot, or jump rope, You must definitely stretch before and after skating to avoid injuries.

Practice the following the following on ice exercises:


Bend both your knees slightly when you skate - even if it's just gliding. Bending your knees will keep your feet/skates right under you. Keep your head up - don't look at the ice. Don't lean too much forward, in other words don't stick out your rear. Keep your arms out in front of you at 10:10 or 2:50 as on a clock, they are your balancing poles. The more you skate, the more balanced you'll get.


Think of your blades as knives. Now when you're moving, the movement is not like trying to cut the ice, it is more like you're trying to scrape with it. You need to bend your knees and push to the side and back, at a slight angle with your blades with your inside edges. That is what propelling you to move forward. Remember to keep your knees bent always. To go faster, bend deeper and create harder, longer pushes for good control. You might get out of control and go faster than you intended. The crucial part of stroking is the push, though. You should push on an inside edge. You don't want to be pushing on your toe-pick.

Slowing down:

If you're really going too fast and you don't know what to do, just glide on 2 feet until you start slowing down keep your knees bent for balance. If you can, skate next to the boards and run your hand along the rails to help slow you down. In any case, keep your knees slightly bent . . . the tendency is to stand up straight when you feel like you are about to fall. This will actually make you fall. Keep those arms in control as in the clock position. Try not to flap your arms when you're about to fall. Learning to stop would be most helpful at this point.

Use your knees and ankles to accelerate. While gliding, have both knees and ankles slightly bent. Turn one foot out to push with the side of your blade and extend that leg -- straighten the leg that you are pushing with. Then bring your feet back together in with the knees and ankles slightly bent again. Then repeat the whole process by pushing with the opposite leg. Remember to use your knees and ankles. You accelerate by bending and extending your joints.

For stopping you are going to again use those knees and ankles to bend, but this time you will apply pressure to your feet as well. Slowly press your heels out so that your toes start to point toward each other. Keep applying pressure to your feet by bending your knees and ankles. This will result in what is called a "snowplow stop" one of the basic stops.

When you accelerate, make sure you bend your knees, and push off your blade. You need to stay really low on your knees and push off on each stroke. Start off slow, as you try to go faster. Speed comes with balance. Balance comes from being comfortable in your skates. Just take it slowly, and you will start feeling more comfortable in no time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your articles are so good because they give a real sense of what physically you are supposed to do with what part of your body when skating - no doubt this comes from being an educator. As a non - educator, I am having difficulty explaining exactly what to do with what part of the body when telling people how to do forward and backward lemons. Could you possibly write an article about that? Christie

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