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This week's tip:

Winter Skate Training
How to polish your skate technique during the offseason

By Randy Plett
Jan. 2, 2009

Skaters in the Cold

Randy Plett: falling to the left while pushing to the right (see "Perfect your fall" below).
Photo: Darlene Prois


Don't let your skate technique go to slush this winter. Keep your technique sharp and your body fit with these workouts:

Build your core

Winter is a great time to build your core muscle strength. Do at least three workouts a week that include abdominal exercises on a Bosu ball or Wobble board (available at most sporting goods stores). Start with two leg squats (no weight), and when you're comfortable with the apparatus, move to one leg squats.

One leg squats are great for improving balance and stability. To up the ante, rest a dumbbell on each shoulder. Building your core is one of the best things you can do to stabilize your back and hips, which will power-up your skating for the new season.

Use a slide-board

Slide-board training is an excellent way to hone technique in the offseason. Before you start, set up a mirror in front of the board. That way you can clearly see your skating form and can make adjustments so you skate lower and have correct skating posture. One good thing to do on the slide-board is work on your fall (the shift of your body weight onto your pushing leg), using your recovery leg to catch yourself as you slide across the board.

Get on the ice

If you have ice speed skates, you can work on edge control, focusing on driving your foot through on the outer edge of the blade. If you've tried this, you know how much instant feed back you get from skating on ice. If you're not on the outside edge, your blades will let you know!

Try Techni-Cords

Have you heard of them (technicords.com)? They consist of a hip belt and bungee-like cord, and they can help you quickly improve your skate technique. They come with a video tape that shows you how to get in the correct skating position for ice or inline and how to improve the efficiency of your stride. Of course, there are other ways to improve technique. You don't need the Techni-Cord system, but I use it (and even sell it) and have found it helps me maintain my form during the winter months.

Perfect your "fall"

If you live some place where you can skate year round, here's a great drill for maximizing your fall. Do the drill slowly at first, exaggerating the movement so your body can learn how it feels.

1. Skate with your knees bent (in the skating position).

2. After you finish a push with your left foot, shift all your weight to the left side of your body.

3. As you are "falling" to the left:

  • Start your right push by driving your right foot into the ground. (Don't think about pushing your foot out to the side or to the back.)
  • Allow your recovery leg to come under your body (this will happen naturally). Drive your recovery foot straight forward on the outside edges of your wheels. Your foot should be parallel to the foot that is pushing.

Practice this exercise until you can do it perfectly. If you learn to do it properly, you will be able to generate power at any speed. If you find that your pushing foot drifts back at higher speeds, slow down and keep drilling.


Randy PlettRandy Plett is one of the top pro veteran skaters in North America. He started inline skating in 1994 and has been a member of the Bont North America team for five years. Last year, he finished second in the veterans division of the National Roller Cup (NROC). He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and three children. He owns Winnipeg's Red River Speed skate shop and works part-time as an oncology nurse.

Red River Speed
Bont Skates

Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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