The sport of Figure Skating is very demanding all-around – from the sport’s culture which requires early specialization to the significant physical & mental demands on the skater.
The frequency and duration of practice puts figure skaters at risk for repetitive injuries. Plus skates that aren’t the best at absorbing force during takeoff and landing, puts them more at risk for overuse lower-body injuries. Their upper-body could also take a beating because of the constant bending of their spine in awkward positions.
They also have to endure the repetitive demands of their coaches, schedule, and other disciplines that is in-addition to their on-ice sessions. Which can be very exhausting mentally.
Some skaters may be talented and have natural strength, power, and athleticism to excel at the lower levels of skating, but the majority of skaters will need to improve upon those qualities in order to compete at a higher level.
That’s where the importance of off-ice training comes in.
In my experience dealing with skaters, off-ice training plays a major role in developing those physical athletic qualities which leads to improved self-confidence and mental fortitude.
The frequency of off-ice training will depend on the skater’s level, goals, and schedule. Typically, in the off-season, it’s best to do off-ice training anywhere between 3-4x per week. During the season, 2-3x per week is a good amount of days for off-ice training.
To succeed in the sport of figure skating, here are some of the physical attributes that should be improved during off-ice training:
1. Pillar Strength
To maintain balance, control, and good positioning when rotating and jumping, the skater must have a strong core to be consistent at performing these movements well. The core involves everything from the torso and hips.
2. Strength and power
In order to hold a position, explode up for a jump, or carry and toss a partner, a skater must possess a certain level of strength. A stronger skater will be more resilient throughout the season which will help them stay healthy on the ice.
3. Explosive Power
Skating fast, jumping high, and landing well starts with your ability to generate force quickly. An explosive skater will be able to complete their program efficiently with speed.
Since most (if not all) movements in figure skating are done on one leg, it is important to train the skater to have better sense of where their body is in space. It goes back to point number one. Without proper core strength, it will negatively affect the skater’s ability to balance.
5. Flexibility & Stability
The ability to take your joints through full range of motion and being able to control that range of motion can help a skater perform movements on the ice efficiently and reduce injury potential.