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Master Your Moves: Tips for Practicing Skating at Any Level

Here at Thrill of the Edge, we say: Practice like it’s a science. Perform like it’s an art. The ability to separate emotion from your practice sessions is one of the hardest things to do in any endeavor. However, if you approach your practice systematically, you will set yourself up for future success. Here are a few quick tips for practicing skating to make your practice sessions more effective:

Have a plan: What are you going to practice for your freestyle session today? How do you start your session? Ballet dancers start with barre in every class before moving to the center. I recommend adopting a similar approach and start your session in this fashion:

  • Swizzles (forward and backward)

  • Stroking (forward and backward)

  • Cross rolls (forward and backward)

  • Edges

  • C-steps (formerly known as mohawks)

  • Three turns

  • S-steps (formerly known as choctaws)

  • Rockers

  • Counters

If this list is beyond your current skating skills, do not worry. Simply start with your easiest and progressively work your way through your skating skills. Try to do one full lap of each skill on each side. If you have more skills to do, you can do a half-lap for each side.

Break your practice up into sections: We get bogged down on certain things. Split your practice sessions into segments so that you can address all of your needed skills. Here is an example of how to split up a one-hour practice session:

  • 20 minutes: Skating Skills

  • 10 minutes: Jumps

  • 10 minutes: Spins

  • 10 minutes: Practice your current skating test/choreography/or major project you are currently working on

  • 8 minutes: Address any that didn’t go to plan in your run-through

  • 2 minutes: Do a couple of cool-down laps to let your body recover

Smaller sections are better: It can be tempting to just run through things over and over. Although you do need to run through your program/test for stamina purposes, that is not the best way to perfect skills. If you cannot get a step quite right, break it down as much as you can. First, practice the first step to the second step. Repeat this until you cannot miss it (Aim to do it right 10 times in a row)! Next, add a step. Then practice these three steps together and repeat the process. It may seem like practicing this way will take forever. However, you are systematically layering in such a way that your progress will almost be guaranteed!

Step away from the ice: Doing off-ice exercises is crucial to your improvement on the ice. Some mobility exercises before you get on the ice and stretching when you get off the ice can greatly enhance the progress of your on-ice skills. As you get more advanced, you will want to include a cardio and strength program of sorts (many skaters enjoy pilates) to further increase your skating abilities.

What’s the goal?: Do better. Be better. These are all common goals I hear people say. However, this is too vague to make real progress. When it comes to creating goals, you must first troubleshoot what is not going right in the skill. For example, “I would like to turn in my three-turn more smoothly” is a more targeted goal that can be addressed in your practice session. Next, you and your coach can come up with exercises to focus on this particular issue. At your next practice session, oscillate between doing the three-turn and then one of the exercises. So, when it comes to goals, here is the breakdown:

  • What problem would I like to address on a skill?

  • How can I target this problem?

  • Do I have at least 2 or 3 different exercises to address this problem?

  • Practice each exercise five times

  • Do the skill. Did it improve?

  • Now, go between the skill and one of the exercises (repeat 5 times). Repeat with each exercise

  • Do the skill. Did it improve?

  • If not, keep targeting what is still not improving on the skill

  • Communicate with your coach if you need more assistance or if things are not progressing.

Of course, there are a myriad of ways to practice. However, if you plan your practice session out and approach your session with definite goals, your practice session will ultimately be more effective. Practicing anything is one of the most frustrating parts of the creation process. Treat your skating practice like a science and have patience. Eventually, you will begin to see the improvement you desire!

Practice like it’s a science and, as always: glide with a purpose!

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