Strength and Conditioning – Making a Plan, Part 2 (Matthew Blair Davis)

Figure skating strength and conditioning expert Matthew Blair Davis continues his presentation on the fundamentals of creating an off-ice training program for skaters. In Part 1, Matthew shared his background and talked at length about strengthening a skater’s core to improve stability and power. In this video, he discusses balance and strength.

Balance is obviously an important aspect of figure skating, as skaters are on one foot/leg a majority of the time.  In the previous video, Matthew noted he considers core exercises to be the primary focus, and for balance training he likes to combine it with core training when possible. He mentions the use of balance boards and Bosu balls to increase the balance demand, but notes that that “there’s a lot of different ways to increase balance demand without adding an additional (training) product.”  The human body has 25% of it’s bones in the feet. This highlights the importance of foot/ankle/knee/hip strength as a chain, and developing strong feet is critical to skater success. Weak feet can cause unwanted “reactions” in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, potentially causing pain and injury. Matthew then talks in general terms about the kinds of exercises he prefers for balance work, focusing on how such exercises translate to balance on the ice.

The next component of an off-ice program is strength. This includes pushing, pulling, pressing, squatting, and hinging. Matthew points out that upper body strength is often overlooked for skaters, even though it’s important in terms of pulling in for jumps and spins. Next, he notes that strength training is different for kids and adults. Kids generally don’t need to isolate specific muscles or specific body parts or use weights or resistance. Matthew focuses on bodyweight training such as pull ups, push ups, pressing away and overhead, core bracing activities, squats, and lunges. He says, “It’s more about the movements than about the body parts.” Additionally, “play” is a version of strength training for kids, and it should be encouraged with specific play activities such as bear crawls and rolls. Matthew says, “The purpose of strength for figure skaters is to get stronger around the joints for the main purpose that we can progress into power training.”


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