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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.

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May 19, 2010

Will New Boots Cure My Ankle Problems?

QHello, Bill: After a few seasons on skates, I recently switched to a 4-wheel frame with 100mm wheels. But now I'm having problems with my ankles. I can't keep them straight. (See attached photo.) What should I do? Do I need new boots? - Janis Hofmanis, Riga, Latvia


Hi, Janis: It looks like your boots are the problem. They don't appear to fit properly. They are loose around your ankle and probably don't give your feet the proper support. From the look of it, I'd say your boots are costing you about 20 percent of your push.

By comparison, look at the skater in front of you in the photo. His boots are snug around the ankles, his legs and feet form a straight line, and he is able to get on a good outside edge with his shoulder over his foot.

That's the kind of support you need.

Your boots may have fit properly when you bought them. But all boots, even full carbon fiber boots, loosen with age and use.

Most top skaters won't skate in a boot that is more than a season old. They find they can only get full power in a boot that is so stiff that they literally have to force their feet into them.

There are lots of good boots on the market. If you want top-of-the-line, notice what the best skaters use. But don't be fooled by the leather boot covers some skaters wear to please their sponsors.

Find yourself a good stiff boot that fits well and locks your heel into position.

You may prefer the feeling of a soft boot. But don't give in. A soft boot won't provide you with the support you need for speed skating ... at least not for long.

I'm sure that your boots are at least part of the problem. But you may also want to strengthen your ankles. You need strong ankles to keep your legs and feet in a straight line.

One good way to strengthen ankles is with a wobble board. Standing on one leg and doing other exercises on a wobble board will put some steel in your ankles.

Cheers, Bill

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