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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 15, 2007

Are Big Feet Better?

QHello, Bill: Is foot size an issue in speed skating? If so, who's better off: the skaters with big or small feet? Kind regards, Christophe from France

Hi, Christophe: Here's the long and short of it: Six-foot-seven Roger Schneider wears a size 15 (US) boot and uses what is probably the longest frame in production.

On the other hand, my daughter, Nicole, wears a size 5 boot and uses the shortest 4x100mm setup available (Bont's 11.92 inch 3-point). Yet both won two World Cup races this year.

That's the beauty of our sport: no one is better off size-wise. We've had just as many champions with big feet (e.g., Chad Hedrick) as small feet (e.g., Argentina's Andrea Gonzalez).

The important thing is selecting the right boot and frame combination. For best results, use a setup that allows about — but no more than — three-quarters of a wheel to protrude from the front and back of your boots. A setup like this fosters good technique, control and speed.

Should I Be Using Protein Supplements?

QHi, Bill: What are your thoughts about the use of whey, casein and egg protein as post-skate supplements? Are they helpful for building lean muscle for long-distance skating or do they tend to bulk up skaters too much? - phwaap! in Denver, CO

Hi, phwaap: Protein supplements used during hard-training cycles can help build muscle strength. But it's possible to over do it. Bulking up too much can slow you down, especially on tough road courses and hills.

But it's an individual matter. Adding muscle helps some skaters, hinders others. My son Wayne, for instance, can't do weight training of any kind. If he does, he quickly adds muscle, which hurts his performance on banked tracks, where he needs quickness for the 500 and 1000 meter events.

The only way to find out if protein supplements work for you is to try them. (Be sure to choose products without harmful additives.) Once you've started using them, monitor your progress. Keep an eye on your weight and the size of your muscles (you can use a tape measure for this.) And test yourself against a clock to make sure your new muscle is speeding you up, not slowing you down.

Cheers, Bill

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