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Ask Bill Begg!

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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.

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May 28, 2009

Six Steps to Speed

QHi, Bill: You recently mentioned the six basic building blocks of proper inline skating technique. Would you please list and explain them for us? - Robert (the Inline Planet guy)

Hi, Robert: The six building blocks are techniques and postures that you must master to develop a powerful speed skating technique. They are keys to the development of speed and advanced techniques, such as double push. It's best to work on them one at a time, starting at the top of the list.

1) Seated position

I know you've heard about this one before. But it's importance can't be over stated.

While skating, maintain a low position with your knees bent and your butt low as though you are about to sit in a chair. In this position, your knees should be over your toes and your hips should be over your ankles.

2) Push to the side

Since your goal in speed skating is to move forward, it may seem natural to push back when you stride. But this is wrong. The proper push is directly to the side with all your wheels in contact with the ground. Push out until your leg is almost fully extended. Then lift all your wheels off the ground together.

3) Weight transfer

As you skate, keep your weight over your support leg (the one that isn't pushing). This looks a little different for men and women. Women should keep their nose above the toes of their support leg. For men, this can be a little more exaggerated with their nose over their toes at minimum. Double pushers should have their outside shoulder above their underpush. (This transfer of body weight should be apparent, from a frontal view)

4) Arm swing

While cruising at moderate speed, a skater's arms should essentially float. But at high speeds, you need a high back arm swing (of about 45 degrees).

On the return swing, your arm bends as it moves past the hip and continues until your hand comes up to your face, just past the far side of the nose.

If your hand goes much further, you may suffer unintended consequences. Swinging your hand past your shoulders can cause your shoulders to twist. Bringing your hand up over your head can induce bobbing. Both can cost you a heart beat or two just when you are already heading into oxygen debt.

5) The "D" recovery

The top of the D is your push to the side. Then, as you roll forward, your foot reaches the tip of the tongue of the D. At that point, you lift your foot, close your hips and loop your leg around behind your body (describing the bottom half of the D's arch). As you do this, be sure to point your toe toward the heel of the support skate.

At one point during your recovery loop, your foot should be directly behind the support leg. At that moment, your back foot would be invisible to someone watching from the front.

6) Sprinting, high back leg lift & knee drive

When sprinting full out, lift your foot and bring it back after its push until the lower leg, at least, is parallel to the ground. (This creates a big gap between your knees.)

Then, as you land the returning skate, use your hip muscles to drive your knee through to the front to a point at least even with the knee of the support leg. This knee drive continues for 0.15 to 0.20 seconds each cycle. (Both Belloni & Sanfrantello had big drive-throughs that gave them great power.)

Cheers, Bill

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