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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.

Oct 23, 2007

How Can I Help My Daughter Become a Speed Skater?

QHi, Bill: My daughter Giovana is starting to compete on inline speed skates with other 11 year olds. She has Canariam Apolo boots with 84mm wheels. She has been practicing for two hours, three times a week.

What would you suggest we do to give her the best chance for long-term success? Also, do you know if there are any clinics in the United Sates where I could bring her once a year to develop her technique? Thanks for your answers! - Rogério Vivaldi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hi, Rogério, Congratulations to you and Giovana! We need people like you to lift the standard of speed skating in Brazil. Fortunately, you don't have to look far to find a model of excellence: Colombia is currently the world's top speed skating nation.

With children, the most important thing to focus on is the development of proper technique. Long distance training is also good because it builds strong hearts.

Things to be careful about are short interval training — developing children should not do to much of it — and lots of hard starts off the line. Hard starts can put too much strain on young bones and muscles. Remember that during growth spurts, bone growth in children can outpace the development of muscles and tendons by as much as six months.

As far as training programs go, look to Colombia for models of banked track skating and outdoor racing; look to the United States for models of indoor racing. (But keep in mind that indoor racing is not included in international competition, such as the World Championships.)

For skate clinics in the USA, check with the U.S. skate federation (USA Roller Sports). It puts on regular banked track clinics at the USA Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, and elsewhere. Top coaches and skaters attend the clinics. Cheers, Bill.


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