Kim Perkins in Long Beach
This week's tip:
No matter where you are in this sport — beginner or advanced, speed skater or freestyler — working on your technique will yield huge dividends. There's no shortage of technical advice out there, but how do you practice all those picky little things without driving yourself insane?
The key is breaking skills into logical progressions of steps, starting with the most basic and adding difficulty one item at a time.
To do that, try doing "technique intervals." For a few minutes, concentrate on one small detail — say, pushing through your heel during the entire length of your stroke — while letting everything else you are "supposed" to be doing fall by the wayside.
If, after a bit of practice, you can't do your chosen item right every time, break it in half (e.g., practice only the part of it that doesn't seem to work). Then relax for a while: Go back to the way you usually skate and don't think about it.
Then pick something else — say, setting your wheels down without pronation (tilting your ankles inward). Do that for a minute. Then go back to just having fun.
Finally, try to do both things at the same time — set down without pronation and push through the heel — before going back to the old way.
As your body adjusts, the new positions will stop feeling forced and become part of the way you skate.
By concentrating on one small thing at a time, you can make huge progress in a few months, all while staying in love with the whirr of your wheels.
Kim Perkins didn't start skating competitively until her mid-thirties. But what she lacked in experience, she made up for with hard work, smarts and a big dose of raw athletic talent. During her brief racing career, she won the Athens to Atlanta Road Skate three times and earned victories in the Cactus Classic (2003), Disney Inline Marathon (2004) and Texas Road Rash (2004), to name a few. Since retiring from competition last year, she has continued to coach privately and teach occasional skate seminars while pursuing an advanced degree at San Francisco State University.
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