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4 Simple Ways to Stay in Shape for Ice Skating During Off-Season

Figure skating seems to be something that its athletes are born with – natural grace, balance, artistic flair and technique come to mind – but only so much of these important traits that lead to the sport’s most successful athletes possess are down to being born with it. The rest simply involves a whole lot of practice, practice, and a lot more practice.

But you don’t have to be Tonya Harding or Kim Yuna to consistently be able to do what you want to do out on the rink – after all, many of us non-athletes skate for the fun of it. But to those of you who are budding enthusiasts, you should know that a lot of preparation goes into being ready anytime you step out there on the rink.

And that’s why we came up with 4 important ways for you to stay fit during off season so that you don’t miss a beat on your axels and turns out there, even if you’re not a professional – check them out.

1. Build And Improve Your Cardio Levels

Good cardiovascular fitness will always be a good thing to anybody practicing any sport. Building your cardio levels for skating will always be of important benefit, especially when you prepare for more explosive and high intensity workouts that will definitely and undoubtedly be the core of your workout plan as an athlete. Get your runs, jump ropes, biking, and resistance training in to build important upper body, lower body and core strength…you’ll thank us later when you do some of the exercises described in this article further.

That’s where high intensity exercise comes in – running in bursts, plyometrics, and other types of jumping.
Some examples: running, jumping rope, biking.

2. Do Compound Exercises

Endurance can be further enhanced by doing compound exercises – which are also forms of functional training. Try combining squat holds with explosive movements involving your legs and your quads to build good balance, improve muscle memory, and build power in the muscles that will be supporting your techniques out on the rink itself for extended periods. Your anaerobic systems will thank you for pushing them to the limit and strengthening themselves in the process…and in doing so, making the cardiovascular system itself work.

3. Practice Resistance Training

Resistance training is a great way to build muscle strength, particularly for the muscles that you will be most often using for ice skating – that is, your upper and lower body as well as your core. Using a machine that helps your arms, legs and your back is great if you have access to one – rowing machines are the absolute best in this regard – or classic dumbbells as the next best thing. Just make sure you perfect your form – lifting heavy means nothing unless you do it properly. Better the one who lifts light weights with perfect form rather than the blowhard who makes an ass of himself trying to impress everybody but having the incorrect form anyway.

4. Try Dryland Training

This is one of the seasoned hockey coach’s most important playbooks for training – dryland training involving high intensity interval workouts and plyometric training for much improved targeted training which will definitely complement the work you will be putting out on the rink, because the principles of proper ice skating remain the same across all ice sports.

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The Importance of Image for the Figure Skater

For a champion figure skater there may be nothing more important than picture-perfect grooming, and that means every little detail from clothing to hairdo and make-up. You’re trying to create an image that will impress the judges and influence their perception of you in a positive way. In a cutthroat and competitive sport like figure skating, every advantage counts. Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind, on and off the ice, to help improve your image for the judges.

Personal Grooming

We’ve already touched upon personal grooming being of huge importance in the figure skating world, but this comes down to more than just a couple of stray nose hairs. Now, the best choice for removing nose hair is a special trimmer, but details like this are just the easy part. It also means making sure your hair is neat and tidy and that it suits your overall appearance – it’s all about the whole package. The right amount and the style of your make-up is also something you have to consider. Remember, you’re being judged on everything as a professional figure skater; not just your ability on the ice. This may seem very subjective and a little unfair, but it is the reality that the figure skating world deals with at every major competition.

Weight and Physical Appearance

Think back to the last figure skating competition you watched on TV. Were there any overweight competitors or ones that seemed to have anything but flawless features? It’s doubtful, for three main reasons. First, the rigors of the sport demand that competitors keep themselves in the best of shape, so it’s rare that they’ll appear anything other than slim and trim. Secondly, when it comes to doubles skating, male skaters are expected to lift their female partners; for this to work well both skaters need to be light enough to pull it off. Last, it comes down to the judges again. Even if you could remain competitive while packing a few extra pounds, it’s doubtful you’d do well with the judges. This may sound a little dubious, but it’s the simple truth of today’s current figure skating reality.

The Costumes

The final thing that’s important to get right, if you want to impress the judges with your impeccable image as a figure skater, is your costume. This should be carefully chosen to match your choreography and your chosen music. You’re trying to impress the judges with your talent as well as your artistic impression. This is probably even more important for anyone competing in pairs skating, where you also have to coordinate your costume with your partner’s. Of course, professional figure skaters get a lot of help from a team behind the scenes, but the most successful skaters have a lot of control over their costume and their image as a whole.

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Living with Adversity as a Champion Figure Skater

If you’re like me, you enjoy all sports, no matter how diverse they are. While this site may be dedicated to figure skating sports, I also happen to be an avid fan of motorcycle racing and I love to ride. I keep my bike in a shared garage so I decided to get a motorcycle stand to work on it in a tight space – it could be either a front or rear wheel stand, it didn’t really matter which.

The reason I bring this up is because I believe that no matter how different one sport is from another, those who enjoy them share one thing in common – the need to be able to perform when dealing in less-than-ideal conditions. That tight space in the garage is where I work on my bike, to get it in the best condition so that I have a better chance in my weekend races. Figure skaters are also used to performing in less-than-ideal conditions, and here are some reasons why.

Poor Ice

For the figure skater just starting out, it can be difficult finding the ice for practicing, let alone ice that qualifies as good ice. Most rinks are used for purposes other than figure skating, such as ice hockey or concert events, and all that traffic can result in slushy ice that makes skating a challenge. If you’re lucky enough to live in a northern environment, you may have access to a relatively private outdoor skating service that allows you to practice to your heart’s content, but this isn’t the typical experience for most figure skaters. The majority have to put up with poor conditions in shared facilities. This shouldn’t be too discouraging, though, as many champions got their start under similar circumstances.

Bad Coaches

Something that may be a little bit more difficult for a promising figure skater to overcome is a bad coach. As is the case in any sport, a coach’s ability will vary. And there may not even be a figure skating coach in your area. Many find it necessary to travel considerable distances to train with a good coach, and that can be quite expensive. Those that can’t afford to travel to further their opportunities have to work through the adversity of turning their promise into something more, even if that means doing it without proper direction. That takes a lot of determination and individual dedication.

Minimal Ice Time

Even if you can find a good coach in your area, that doesn’t mean you’ll have access to an unlimited amount of ice time for practice. As we’ve already mentioned, figure skaters have to compete with a lot of other sports and events for ice time, which can mean spending a lot of time practicing some aspects of your sport on dry land. This isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly makes life a little more challenging if you really want to succeeed.

Outdated Equipment

Perhaps the biggest problem many figure skaters face when starting out is outdated or wrong equipment. By equipment I mean skates, of course, and if you’ve ever skated before you’ll know how difficult it is to skate on dull or thin blades. It’s even more difficult to try figure skating with standard skates, but I’ve seen a lot of people attempt it over the years. Dealing with this type of adversity will make you either quit the sport or double down with determination; which one you decide to do really depends on your personality and commitment.

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