Building strength, balance, power and grace from within
Training Tips for Figure Skaters
Tips to Prevent Injuries, Improve Performance and Prolong Performing Career
Performance athletes require a unique combination of strength, power, endurance, flexibility, balance and grace. A true performer will create a program full of challenging jumps, fast spins and exciting choreography exhibiting agility, grace, and athleticism. In order to perform a dynamic program, sustain yourself through long practice sessions and elongate your performance career, implement the following tips. Make sure you follow these tips with guidance of a licensed health care professional. Physician clearance suggested when beginning a new exercise program.
1. Start with the Right Equipment
Whether you are on or off the ice, you will need the right clothing and equipment.
- Maintain ideal body temperature by dressing appropriately.
- Discuss equipment needs with a professional. Always seek out the dealer with the most knowledge and the best service. It will be worth every dime.
- Use padding, taping etc. to protect yourself from blisters, corns etc.
2. The Environment
Do what you can! While you cannot always control the surface you move on or the air temperature you practice or perform in, you can control what you wear to stay warm. For example: Zamboni resurfacers can emit dangerous fumes. Warm-up outside of the rink area to reduce exposure and report breathing problems to an adult.
3. Warm-Up (Before all practices, performances and competitions-Keep it consistent!)
General-Gradually increase heart rate, body temperature and blood flow to the muscles in your body by performing a series of dynamic exercises for 5 minutes. A dynamic warm up includes jogging, skipping, walking lunges, jumping jacks, jumping rope, cariokes, walking hamstring stretch, butt kicks etc.
Sport Specific-Following a general warm-up, spend another 5 minutes doing exercises that will prepare you for your specific activity. more
4. Cool Down (After all practices, performances and competitions)
Cooling down gradually slows the heart rate after activity to avoid an abrupt drop in blood pressure. Also, the lactic acid, which is produced during vigorous exercise, is reduced with a proper cool down. Lactic acid causes soreness 24-48 hours following exercise. You will recover quicker so that you will be ready for that next session. more
5. Stretch (In the morning, before & after practices & competitions, at night during your favorite TV show)
General Stretches: Gently stretch all of the major muscle groups. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3-4 times, careful not to bounce. If you feel pain, you are stretching too hard. Stretches are important for posture and alignment as well a for improved performance. more
Specific Stretches: Each sport or activity has different requirements. Find out specific stretches that will enhance your performance.
6. Aerobics (Long and steady)
Aerobic exercise is any activity which utilizes oxygen to produce energy. To improve your aerobic conditioning, you will need to select an activity (jogging, biking etc) that you can sustain for 20-30 minutes NONSTOP. You want to be breathing harder than normal but you should be able to carry on a conversation. Skating and dancing don't usually not enough since you tend to start and stop so much. Aerobic activity will improve your lung capacity and make your heart stronger and more efficient which is important for all performance athletes including musicians, dancers, skaters and singers. more
7. Anaerobics (Think…intervals)
Anaerobic exercise is activity which is done at a very intense level for a shorter duration (30s-2 minutes). You will be breathing heavily during anaerobic exercise. Usually you repeat the exercise several times with a short rest in between. For example, sprint 30s then jog to recover then repeat 4-6 times. You can substitute back-to-back program run-throughs as you get closer to your competitive season. Remember, when you are nervous, you require more stamina for your program because your respiration (breathing) increases. more
8. Strength Training
Improving strength can enhance your performance while preventing injuries. Many performance related skills are performed to one side resulting in muscle imbalances. Many injuries can be prevented by maintaining equal strength from left to right and optimum balance of the muscles from front to back. Strengthen your upper body, lower body and core by performing exercises specific for your age, conditioning experience and training level. more
9. Improve Balance and Coordination
Incorporating balance exercises into your conditioning program will improve the stability. Balance exercises help prevent injuries by improving proprioception (a fancy word for body awareness). more
10. Train Sensibly
Gradually increase your training as a sudden increase in training is one of the single most important cause of overuse injuries. Plan ahead for camp situations by getting accustomed to increased training time. Rest when you need it-It is amazing how much visualization helps you retain new information and techniques while allowing your body to rest. more
11. Create a master training calendar (Periodization)
Meet with a strength and conditioning coach and design your training program around key performances. more
12. Listen to your body and seek early treatment for aches and pains
It is not normal for your body to hurt. Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of injuries can minimize time off. Injuries which become chronic (ongoing) take longer to heal and will inevitably decrease performance. more
13. Practice good nutrition
To perform at an optimum level both physically and mentally, it is important to eat healthy foods. The proper nutrients allow our bodies to heal quicker and train harder. In an effort to maintain a lean physique many performance athletes dramatically reduce caloric intake. When cutting calories, it becomes more difficult to meet the RDA of vitamins and minerals. It is even more important to make nutrient dense choices when choosing meals. Avoid white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, red meat and trans fats which can increase inflammation and slow healing of our bodies. more
14. Stay hydrated
Drinking water is the best way to hydrate and detoxify the body without unwanted calories. Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine and carbonation.
15. Technique, Technique, Technique
Technique work is important in laying a good foundation for the future. Your instructor will help you to optimize practice sessions by teaching good solid technique. An credentialed strength and conditioning coach is helpful in teaching you about good body mechanics including proper knee control and posture. Many exercises can be modified by altering your body position to reduce joint stress.
16. Germs…Be Gone!
Hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid spreading and receiving germs. Cover your coughs and stay home if you are sick. If you have wounds, keep covered for your protection and for the protection of others. Lastly, do not share water bottles, lip gloss, hats or other clothing. Link to Center for Disease Control & Prevention
17. Get Plenty of Sleep
No matter what your age, it is imperative that you get plenty of sleep. (8-10 hours). Getting proper rest can equate to decreased injuries, improved memory, improved mental health, greater recovery and growth. more
18. Manage Stress
Stress can increase the chance of developing illness and injury by suppressing your immune system. To reduce stress, decrease you activity load, perform relaxation exercises, manage time wisely and keep things in perspective. Practicing visualization of your program at your next competition can help decrease performance anxiety. more
19. Develop Mental Skills
Successful athletes have mastered the art of developing certain mental skills to improve focus and decrease anxiety. more
20. Posture and Aesthetics
Good posture is the result of proper muscle balance and body awareness. Posture can be improved by stretching and strengthening key muscles and by practicing good technique throughout the day (in your desk, at the computer etc.) more
21. Life Balance and Time Management
Start by writing out a list of who or what you value. Rate them in order of value. Does your current lifestyle allow time for all of the important people in your lives and for your favorite activities? Does it reflect your values? If not, you may want to re-balance your life. more
22. Build a Healthy Spirit
Become your authentic self by believing in yourself and your values. more
23. Travel Smart
Planning ahead for an event can decrease stress and allow for fun and relaxation. more
24. Find the joy again
Remember to have fun! Great performances come from the heart!
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