General Thoughts on Off-Ice Training (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh talks about the various aspects of off-ice training, sharing her insights and preferences. Michelle begins by noting, “First of all, I think it’s very, very important that you start off-ice training at a very young age.” It is important that it’s fun, so skaters learn to love exercises that will help them become better athletes. Already when skaters are learning single jumps, Michelle wants to see skaters participating in a figure skating-oriented off-ice program “where you’re actually doing all of the jumps off the ice.” She continues, “It’s important when skaters are young to learn to rotate.” So a good initial 0ff-ice program can be focused on jumping, skipping, rotating, and general strengthening (inner legs, core, etc).

Michelle notes that off-ice training schedules and intensity should be designed with on-ice training goals in mind. It is not wise to physically overtrain any athlete, and skaters in particular are susceptible to reduced progress in on-ice skill development if they are continuously tired or sore. Michelle recommends clear and regular communication between off-ice coaches and the primary coach. She also encourages using off-ice trainers who have a figure skating background, in order to tailor the athletic development to the sport.

In terms of cardio training, Michelle prefers program run-throughs on the ice. The idea is simple. A program run-through is the only thing that accurately simulates running a program! Michelle suggests using light weights (hand weights, ankle weights) for developing awareness of positions and movements. She also recommends ballet training and other dance classes for body awareness. For more advanced skaters, plyometric training is also important, but should probably be done with the help of a specialist.


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