Julie teaches Off-Ice Conditioning at North Shore Skating Club. The classes are small group training sessions focused highly on functional training specifically for figure skaters. Each class is one hour that consists of a warm up, circuit strength training, cardio, core strengthening and stretching. Classes offer the opportunity to improve endurance and agility, strength and power, balance, core strength and stability, flexibility as well as preventing injury. READ MORE >
Why is Off-Ice Conditioning Important?
The importance of off ice conditioning for skaters has become apparent in recent years as the sport has evolved to include increasingly difficult technical jumps and spins all while effortlessly skating through a four minute program. Consistent strength and conditioning classes lead to a better overall athletic performance. Some skaters have natural balance, flexibility and core strength, but in order to progress towards the higher levels of skating, this natural talent must be improved upon. Off ice classes offer the opportunity to improve endurance and agility, strength and power, balance, core strength and stability, flexibility as well as preventing injury.
Free skating programs get increasingly harder as the skater reaches higher levels. Four minutes may not seem like a long time, but when packed with difficult jumps, spins, and connecting moves alone on the ice in front of judges, it can seem like the longest four minutes of your life. Endurance is more than just cardiovascular training, as it also encompasses the execution of consistent skill technique. Agility is important to skaters because it refers to the ability to move with ease from one
thing to the next and changing the body’s position efficiently. In a program, skaters are required to
change directions; speed and body position all at once without missing a beat. Drills off ice such as
interval training, ladder and cone drills will increase endurance and agility respectfully.
Jumping is the aspect of skating that requires the most strength and power. Muscle strength is
important for every part of the jump; the take-off, rotation, and landing. The skater must be strong
enough to force their bodies into the air with enough height to finish rotation before coming back
down to the ice to land on one foot and hold the position.. Without the physical strength to do this,
a skater will not be able to accomplish landing many of the harder jumps. Strength training helps to
increase the amount and strength of the muscle fibers. With stronger muscles, the body will be able
to have a stronger take off therefore jumping higher and be able to rotate their bodies around the axis
with the ability to control their body position on the landing. In order to increase strength and power
on the ice, resistant training and functional plyometric training (especially of the lower extremities)
will increase the amount of muscle in the skater’s body to create greater strength, muscular endurance
and anaerobic power in the individual’s skating.
Balance is a huge part of skating in general. Once intricate moves are introduced it becomes
increasingly harder to keep balanced on one blade that is 1/4 inch wide. Balance exercises help to be
aware of our body position at all times. Core strength helps to keep the balance and the stability of the
body while executing jumps and spins and even just stroking forward. Core strength is extremely important in checking out of the rotation of jumps and maintaining a tight air position.
Some of the most impressive moves in the sport of figure skating require a great deal of flexibility. Some kids have amazing natural flexibility, but for others this is something that must be worked at off the ice in the form of stretching to lengthen muscles. Stretching also plays a h huge role in injury prevention. Properly warming muscles up before they take the ice can prevent pulled or torn muscles. Skating is physically demanding and skaters can suffer from both traumatic injuries, such as a falls, and overuse injuries due to the repetitive nature of the sport. Injuries such as stress fractures, tendonitis and muscle strains can be prevented by proper off ice strength and conditioning so that the body has developed enough muscle strength to protect itself.
Functional exercises are the most beneficial way of conditioning as these require use of the entire body as does the sport of figure skating. Functional exercise requires the use of many muscles to contract at the same time, which once developed will transfer to the skater’s on ice athletic performance.