By Chris Weaver (Sports Development Coordinator)
Speedskating is fun! That’s why you do it, but it isn’t always going to be easy. Many sports are much easier than speedskating but no sport is more rewarding. When you work hard, you will be rewarded every time you step on the ice if you do it with a smile. I’ve listed ten ways for you to become a faster speedskater.
- Think Positive–In speedskating, technique is everything. No matter how tired, sore or out of breath you are, your technique is what will get you to the finish line first. It doesn’t matter how strong or fit you are, if you don’t skate with good technique you will go slow. Skating without good technique is like walking up to the plate in baseball without a bat. Observe faster skaters and emulate what they do. Skate behind them and mirror their pushes. Watch video, look at photographs, listen to the sound their skates are making–anything to get a sense of what it is that makes them go fast. No element of speedskating technique is too small, no detail should be overlooked. While a skater should never judge their performance based on other skaters, it’s always good to have a rabbit. Someone you can chase. Someone whose technique you can observe and learn from.
- Get Low–Everything you do in this sport will get easier if you bend your knees more. Balance becomes more natural, alignments fall into place, and of course you go faster! The more you bend your knees, the bigger your push will be and the faster you will go!
- Skate Under Control–A speedskater should always know where their skates are and where they’re going on the ice. This means not only watching where you’re going, but also controlling where those blades are at all times. You can steer, carve, push, glide, and fly on those blades, but not without command and confidence in your ability to control them.
- Think Weight Transfer–The basic idea behind the speedskating push is a simple transfer of weight from one leg to the other. Remember, this can’t be achieved if you have your body weight over both legs at the same time. Every last ounce of your weight needs to be over one leg in that moment right before you push, transferring every ounce of oomph onto your other leg.
- Look Up–Your feet will still be there when practice is over. I promise. There is no need to look at them. Focusing your eyes out ahead of you will not only make you a safer skater, but it will also make you a much more efficient skater and a better racer.
- Take Pride In Your Skates–Your skates are your ride to where you want to go in speedskating. They are a speedskater’s most valuable possession. If the fire alarm goes off, they are the first thing you grab on your way out the door! Even if you are new to the sport and using rental skates, take good care of them. Make sure you dry them off immediately after practice. Avoid contact with dirt or cement and learn how to sharpen them.
- Don’t Be Scared To Fall–Getting better means continually pushing yourself further–even when you don’t feel comfortable. You will never find out what you are capable of if you don’t try to go faster than you’ve ever gone before. That’s how you improve, and falling is a big part of it. Get back up and don’t stop going after it with everything you’ve got. Pretty soon you will get more comfortable at the higher speed and you will be pushing the envelope even farther.
- Warm Up/Cool Down–Regardless of what level speedskater you are, it’s always good to warm up before you get on the ice. Ice time is at a premium and you want to be at your best as soon as you step on the ice. Remember, time you spend on the ice at the beginning of practice warming up could have been spent warming up off the ice.Doing a good cool down is essential and your muscles need to recover in order to get stronger. Go for a jog or spin on a bike and do some stretching for a few minutes after a hard workout to help you recover.
- Relax–Take a deep breath. Shake out your arms and legs. Smile. These things will help you go faster. Just relax. Tension in your body slows you down. The more relaxed you are, the more your muscles will be able to perform at their highest level and the easier it will be for you to execute good speedskating technique at maximum effort.
- Don’t Forget It’s A Race, And Racing Is Fun!–Even though so much of speedskating involves a focus on technical elements, it’s important to remember you’re out there to go as fast as you possibly can. Try to improve your times. Every day you go faster than you’ve gone before is a great day, regardless of how fast other skaters are going.
There is nothing wrong with being competitive. Speedskaters love to race. Embrace it, thrive on it, use it as your motivation, but don’t let other skaters influence your perception of you as a speedskater.