Issues With Returning to the Ice After Pandemic – Part 1 (Matthew Blair Davis)

Figure skating strength and conditioning expert Matthew Blair Davis gives a presentation specifically for iCoachSkating subscribers highlighting issues that skaters and coaches may face after this long period of time off the ice, particularly for those skaters who have been doing significant off-ice training. Skaters (and their bodies) were used to training in certain ways, and the pandemic forced dramatic changes in training habits. As Matthew notes in this presentation, some of those changes are good, but some are concerning and deserve additional discussion.

Matthew explains that most skaters have been focused primarily on jump training, stretching, cardio, and skating technique during their time off the ice. He notes that these (aside from stretching and flexibility work) are typically “fun” for skaters. But during this forced period of time off the ice, skaters have not done enough core training, rotational training, balance training, and “stability” training.

Coaches should be aware of how lack of stability training along with the increase in strength training (jump training) could negatively affect skaters as they return to the ice. In particular, added strength and may translate into bigger on-ice jumps, but skaters who have not trained balance and stability may struggle with controlling their new strength and power. Matthew explains that skaters are likely to experience a period of increased knee and low back pain as they work through these issues. But the good news is Matthew does not expect this to create any lasting effects, either in terms of injuries or overall progress as long as core and stability exercises are reintroduced now.

Another caution that might not seem obvious at first is skaters may be significantly stronger, but may not have the associated stability to actually apply that power, even to jump take-offs. Similarly, conditioning gains and improvements in flexibility may not translate immediately to the ice as skaters struggle to stabilize and balance themselves in order to apply these gains on the ice.

Matthew recommends immediately increasing core training activities to improve stability and balance. He will share specific exercises in Part 2 of this series.


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