Body position and bodyweight use in skating technique
An efficient skater uses his bodyweight to gain speed. This is ‘free’ mass and can work in your favour, if you use it right. This happens in the fall-move, the moment on which a skater glides, hangs and changes from one leg to another and shifts the bodyweight. In fact, it is quite a simple lesson in physics. By using gravity, you can increase speed. If you do this effectively, you will go faster.
This is why it is very important to use the bodyweight when pushing sideways into the ice. The basic position of the body is leading in this. The most important thing for any level skater is to learn and recognize that when you push, the upper body also moves along when the leg returns through the air. Basically, you take your upper body along with your leg (the leg that just finished the push). The upper body may not cross in the opposite direction compared to the free leg which moves through the air.
Figure 1a and 1b: at the moment of pushing, the upper body has to be pointing straight forward (or as in 1a, even a little bit towards the pushing leg).
Why is this so important? When you have mass (body weight) on the pushing leg, you have the right circumstances to push. This way you get to keep pressure on the pushing leg. If your upper body hangs between both legs, you don’t have the right circumstances (body position). It is quite simple: At the moment when you can’t push, you will not go fast. First you need to ensure to create a position from which you can push, because if you don’t have that, speed is very hard to gain.
In the corner, this concept works just the same. To keep pressure on the legs which are pushing sideways (not backwards) towards the right, the upper body has to stay still, straight and horizontal in the forwards direction. The hardest part of this is to keep the hips leading, the left hip leans into the corner and the upper body doesn’t turn into the corner but stays straight.
Figure 2a and 2b: in the corner, the upper body is pointing straight forward and the hip is leaning into the corner.
The first thing I look at as a skating coach is body position. If the position is off, the push won’t follow. Is the position okay? Then we work on the direction of the push. Fully sideways, and at the moment of pushing the blade should point in the direction of skating, aligned with the upper body. The free, returning leg is also quite important. It creates the pendulum and balance for the skating movement, and when the toes are pointed down correctly and the knee angle is about 90 degrees, the muscles get a moment to rest and recover.
Figure 3: the skating position with the free leg in recovery.
Carolien Hunneman on liikunnanopettaja, pikaluisteluvalmentaja, entinen ammattimaratonluistelija ja multiskate –intoilija Hollannista. Hänellä on SkateXperience-luistelupalvelu ja toimii valmentajana Helsingin Luisteluakatemiassa. Katso myös www.skatexperience.com.