Strength and Conditioning – Making a Plan, Part 1 (Matthew Blair Davis)

Figure skating strength and conditioning expert Matthew Blair Davis begins a presentation on the fundamentals of creating an off-ice training program for skaters. Much of the strength training done by skaters lacks skating-specific training concepts. Matthew has not only worked with skaters for a very long time, he’s had tremendous success with skaters by finding out what works and what doesn’t in terms of focus areas and actual training methods. This video is part of a longer presentation, and Matthew starts with a discussion of his experience and training. His experience is impressive and it would be unwise to ignore his advice. The different aspects of off-ice training for skaters (not skill-specific) to be covered in this multi-part presentation are: core, balance, strength, power, stamina, recovery, and flexibility.

The first aspect is core training, and as Matthew explains, this is perhaps the most important part of off-ice training for figure skaters and it should be the primary focus. Core stability is crucial for control as well as maximum power generation. He explains that skaters with a weak or untrained core typically suffer from “power leakages” as well as a host of potential injuries or discomforts. Matthew says, “What I look at as core training is staying solid through your center so you can transfer force. All the forces you create transfer through the body’s center.” The primary core exercises he recommends are anti-rotation exercises and multi-planar trunk stability exercises (anti-extension and anti-flexion). Counter intuitively for most, Matthew notes that how high you jump on the ice is often governed by how strong your core is, not just how strong your legs are.

Matthew spends some time explaining that nearly all skaters suffer from “anterior pelvic tilt” which is an undesirable forward tilting of the hips (a result of our high-heeled skates!). He says, “Anterior pelvic tilt will decrease your ability to use your core.” So the goal for off-ice training should be focusing on creating a posterior pelvic tilt, especially since this is a major part of an optimal air position. Quickly getting from anterior to posterior pelvic tilt is absolutely critical to being a good jumper, so that needs to be an important part of the off-ice training program.


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