Off-Ice Core Strength Training – Part 1 (Matthew Blair Davis)

Figure skating strength and conditioning expert Matthew Blair Davis beings a discussion about core training for figure skaters. Matthew explains that he wants to train figure skaters to have a stronger core when their body is vertical, because that’s how skaters need to be stronger.  He says, “I’m a huge believer that when you train core on a figure skater you want to be on your feet, because the only time a figure skater on the ice is not on their feet… you’re making mistakes.” He also explains that figure skaters need stability and the ability to stop rotation. He says, “Figure skaters are great at creating rotation, but sometimes they’re not so good at stopping rotation.”

The exercise in this video uses a TRX Rip Trainer. [A rip trainer is available online for about $150. But a poor man’s rip trainer can be built using a baseball bat or a broom and a stretch resistance band.  A “red” stretch resistance band can be purchased for about $11. Note that home-made rip trainers are not as safe as the real thing! Some strength trainers use only resistance bands to perform similar exercises.]

For the exercise, Matthew has the skater get into a split stance with the back heel up. The leg on the side with the rip trainer elastic is the one that is back. The skater brings the stick to the side of the body and there is still tension on the cord throughout. The opposite arm starts fully extended and the other arm is bent. The skater then presses the arms out in front while maintaining core stability. The skater should breathe in while taking the rip trainer back, and out when driving it forward. The movement back is slow and controlled and the movement forward is more aggressive.

Matthew explains that the biggest mistake he sees when skaters perform this exercise is “too much turning of the hips.” The hips should remain square and stationary throughout.  He says, “Nothing happens from the middle of the body down.” This works the muscles in the abdomen and the glutes to make sure there is no extra rotation.

As an important reminder, Matthew notes that a skater should train both sides of the body equally. He doesn’t count repetitions for this exercise, but instead focuses on time. He has the skater repeat the movements for 45 seconds on one side, then 45 seconds on the other.


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