Figure skating can be an incredibly demanding sport. There are strict choreography requirements, as well as jumps and spins that must be performed perfectly. To help improve their skills, many figure skaters rely on off ice training. This type of training can help to increase muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. In addition, it can improve the skater’s balance and coordination.
Figure skating is a physically demanding sport that requires extensive on-ice training. Skaters must develop strength and agility in order to execute their routines successfully.
An off-ice training program helps athletes maintain their conditioning while avoiding injury. By incorporating off-ice training into their routine, skaters can improve their overall skating skills and prepare for competitions.
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Off Ice Training For Figure Skaters
Although it makes sense to want to know how to practice ice skating at home, another important part of improving your skating is to increase your overall fitness.
Off ice workouts can result in a better jump technique, better on ice strength and more body awareness on the ice.
Most off ice conditioning involves specific exercises to improve the different skills you need for ice skating.
This includes working on:
- Cardio fitness
Skaters of all ages can benefit from taking part in ice training classes and also getting involved in cross training through other sports.
Let’s look at the different demands that skating makes on your body and how you can improve each one:
Why is Balance Important for figure skaters?
When we think about skating on what are essentially thin knives, the reason that balance is important seems obvious.
Balance is key for figure skaters because it allows them to perform the many different types of jumps and spins that are required in the sport.
Good balance helps skaters stay upright and spin quickly and smoothly.
It also enables them to land jumps correctly, with the proper amount of rotation and without wobbling.
In order to maintain their balance, skaters must use all of their body’s muscles, including those in their feet, ankles, legs, hips, and core.
How To Improve Your Balance
There are many things you can do to improve your balance. One way is to improve the strength of your muscles that help with balance, namely your core. Strong abdominal muscles can make big differences in your skating moves from improving your spin positions in things like camel spins to helping you keep a higher spiral for longer.
Stability balls are a great way to improve your core muscles when you do ab exercises.
Using an off-ice spinner or a balance board are also great ways to really work on your balance so that your core learns to hold your body in the correct position.
You can also practice yoga moves such as:
- Tree Pose
- Warrior Pose
- Stick Pose
Improving your core is the number one thing you can do to improve your balance so I highly recommend you try one or more of the following:
- Planks and side planks
- Bird dog
If you are looking to add in another sport to your schedule, the following are the best for improving balance and core strength:
It probably won’t come as a surprise to know that if you want to make it as a figure skater, you need to be flexible. To get that high spiral or awe-inspiring Biellman spin, you need to have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast.
The flexibility demands on your hip flexors and leg muscles for landing those jumps and contorting your body into all kinds of position are intense.
If this is your weakness, the good news is that with a little practice you can improve your flexibility in no time.
Try the following agility exercises:
- Split exercises
- Landing your needle
- Downward facing dog
If you want to really improve your flexibility, I am going to recommend you check out the Anna McNulty YouTube series of videos. These short video classes will take you from beginner to crazy noodle-like flexibility in no time. Plus they are free!
Other sports that can help your flexibility include:
- Martial arts like tai chi and aikido
Do figure skaters need to be strong?
There is a misconception that figure skaters only need to be able to spin and jump. The reality is that they need to be very strong in order to execute the difficult moves with precision and control. On ice power is very important at the higher levels when you want to really do those advanced moves.
In order to achieve the level of strength required, many figure skaters incorporate weightlifting into their training routine.
The stronger your muscles are, the easier time you will have taking off from jumps and fighting muscle fatigue. If you are a male pairs skater or take part in synchronized skating, then you may have to lift other skaters up which of course will require a lot of strength too!
You need to improve your muscle strength in order to increase your explosiveness on the ice. This is what will help you jump higher and get those doubles and triples. Your leg muscles and glutes are some of the most important parts of your body to work on when you want to boost your strength.
Here are the best exercises to work try:
- Wall Squats
- Leg extensions
To increase your strength, consider incorporating the following into your fitness routine:
- Roller Blading
Even the most experienced skaters can improve their artistry, sometimes we spend so much time working on landing a jump or spin that we forget to work on the artistic elements of our programs.
Some people are naturally very graceful and ballerina-like while for others, it can take some work.
There are many ways to improve your skating skills and artistry.
Here are a few tips:
1. Practice your jumps and spins regularly on and off ice.
2. Be aware of your body position and alignment when skating. Make sure you are maintaining good posture and alignment throughout your routine.
3. Pay attention to your footwork. Make sure your steps are smooth and graceful.
4. Be creative and expressive with your movements on the ice. Let your personality shine through in your skating routines.
5. Stay focused and perform with confidence. Believe in yourself and let your skating reflect that confidence!
The best way to improve your artistic skills off ice are with different sports and activities such as:
- Ballroom Dancing
- Belly Dancing
- Rhythmic Gymnastics
Why is Cardio fitness important for figure skaters
Good stamina is important for figure skaters because it allows them to have the endurance to skate for long periods of time without getting tired.
Considering that the long program is over 4 minutes long, you can see why having the cardio skills to keep going at full pelt is essential.
Improving your endurance also helps you to stay agile and have good balance, which are both important for skating.
In addition, cardiovascular fitness can help reduce the risk of injuries while skating.
To increase your stamina for figure skating, try the following exercises:
- Box Jumps
- Stair running
- Elliptical machine
- Jumping Jacks
The following sports are great for increasing your cardio strength:
- Walking then running
- Spin Classes
The Benefits of Cross-training for figure skaters
While you can take specific off-ice figure skating classes to improve your landing positions, spins and jumps, cross-training is also very important. Many people actually believe that taking part in another sport can benefit your skating more than extra time at the rink.
Well-rounded athletes typically have the endurance and mental strength to perform under pressure in any situation. Something that is really important to figure skaters who can succumb to nerves when competition days roll round.
Here are some of the top sports that work great for figure skaters:
- Dance (all kinds – ballet, hip hop, ballroom)
- Cross country skiing
Off Ice Training For Figure Skaters – Final Thoughts
Figure skating is a physically demanding sport that requires immense dedication and hard work in order to become a world-class skater.
The sport of figure skating can be performed on ice or on water, but most professional skaters train extensively off ice.
Off ice training is an essential part of the development process for any figure skater and allows them to improve their overall skating skills while also building strength, endurance, balance and flexibility.