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Ask Bill Begg!

Skating's top coach answers your questions

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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

Find out more about Bill Begg and his column.

Jan. 29, 2008

Is My Daughter Skating Too Much?

QHi, Bill: I have been criticized about the large amount of skating my pre-teen daughter does. She skates all summer on inlines and has a full winter schedule of short track, long track and marathon ice racing. She loves skating and continues to improve. What I'm wondering is when is enough really enough? Cheers Alex in Canada.

Hi, Alex: One of the most important issues is whether she like skating, and you provided the answer, when you said, "She loves to skate."

I have had a bit of experience when it comes to the "young daughter situation." My daughter, Nicole Begg, has been skating constantly ever since she was two and a half years old. We never had to tell her to skate (we still don't); she always wanted to skate and had a great role model in her mother, former world champion Cheryl Begg.

Of course, you don't want to get stuck in the "ugly parent syndrome." Some parents try to live out their dreams by taking over the life of their children, and that's no good. But being supportive and giving a child every opportunity to succeed is a different kettle of fish. If your daughter is smiling and happy, let her develop into the athlete she is destined to become.

I have not found that early training is bad for a child. Everyone said that Australian Kylie Phillips, who I coached from a young age, would burn out. But she excelled, moving up to the adult (senior) division at the World Championships when she was just 14 and returning to Worlds several years in a row.

My daughter is another example. At 12, she won the under-17 Oceania junior marathon title and at 14, she won six of the Oceania adult road titles and was second in the marathon.

At 19, she won her first world title; at 20 (last year), her second. And she's still loves to skate!

The key with young children is not to overdo interval training and to lay off starts and jumps, which demand strong bones, during adolescent growth spurts.

As for your daughter, Canada needs more like her. The only way it is going to start producing world champions is to have dedicated youngsters with strong family support, tracks to train on and enthusiasm.

Are Rounded Backs Normal?

QHi, Bill: A few of our young skaters have what I can only describe as rounded backs while skating. Is this due to general posture or something else? It just doesn't look right to me. And when they are standing normally, they don't appear to slouch. - Cheers, Cherie, UK

Hi, Cherie: A slightly arched back is nothing to be concerned about, but a prominently rounded back could be.

The proper skating position is knees over toes and hips over ankles with the backside dropped and the torso bent at the waist.

I can't think of a reason why a skater should have a pronounced rounding of the back. However, I have seen rounded backs in cases where skaters dangled their arms in front of their bodies. This arm position is not good because it impedes the high back swing required for sprinting.

You might want to check the body position of your skaters. Make sure they are sitting back correctly and that their shoulders are above the toes of their support skates. That should eliminate any problem with rounding.

Cheers, Bill


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