Strength and Conditioning – Making a Plan, Part 4 (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 Part 2, he discussed balance and strength, and the need for both before working on power. In Part 3, he focused on power and stamina, reminding us that most skaters don’t need power training or stamina training compared to improvements in core, stability, and strength. In this video, he finishes his discussion of stamina training and moves on to recovery and flexibility training.

In the previous video, Matthew noted that only competitive skaters typically need stamina training, and the majority of stamina training should be high intensity interval training (HIIT). In wrapping up his discussion on stamina in this video, Matthew briefly discusses Tabata-style training for skaters. As he notes, only specific equipment and effort levels will provide the desired results using Tabata-style training. This kind of training is brutal and should be reserved only for top skaters.

The next topic is recovery, and it’s way more important than most people acknowledge. Skaters who do not have adequate physical recovery built into their on-ice and off-ice training programs will suffer over-use injuries, and risk more serious injuries over time. Skaters absolutely must tell their coaches and trainers if they are feeling pain, as this is a sign of a potential issue, suggesting additional focus on recovery for some period of time. Matthew explains a typical recovery protocol of icing (15 minutes), muscle rolling (preferably with Hyperice vibrating foam roller for 10 minutes), stretching, and kinesio taping (inhibit muscle). He also suggests taking days off from training when necessary. Another important aspect of recovery is sleep, and Matthew recommends at least 8.5 hours of sleep each day for all competitive athletes. He says, “Sleep is your best recovery. If your child is not getting 8 and a half hours of sleep each night, they are not recovering.” Coaches need to monitor and constantly adjust the ratio between recovery and work because “everything is a stressor.” Skaters that skate multiple hours a day and have off-ice jump classes or strength classes or yoga or pilates have to balance these activities with enough rest and recovery.

Flexibility is another very important topic for skaters. Skaters should do both static stretching (hold positions) and dynamic stretching (movement prep, typically as a warm-up). Matthew makes a point of cautioning against stretching positions, and instead focusing on stretching muscles. Incorrect stretching technique can allow skaters to stretch in certain positions without gaining the benefits of actually stretching the muscles correctly for those positions. Matthew also discusses the idea of “loaded flexibility” training, noting that it combines flexibility and strength training. In terms of tools, he recommends a Vipr for loaded flexibility training, but he also notes it is a valuable tool for all aspects of off-ice training for skaters. Perhaps most importantly, Matthew notes that flexibility training needs to be done EVERY day.  He says, “If a figure skaters is not spending 20 minutes per day just working on stretching, then they’re in big trouble.”


Sorry, this content is for members only.

Click here to get access.


Already a member? Login below

Remember me (for 2 weeks)

Forgot Password

FavoriteLoadingAdd to "My Favorites" (Beta testing)
Member Login

Forgot Password