When your skating instructor/coach suggests you should train off-ice, it’s not just a good idea, but a really important part of your skating instruction! Do you know why? If not, I’m going to share with you a little of what I know because I have lots of experience.
Skating alone does not train your body to do all the skills necessary to be a figure skater no matter what level you are skating at. The students who have had some ballet training before venturing onto the ice, usually pick up the basic skills quickly because they have already had some training in body alignment. What’s body alignment?
Body Alignment is learning about balance & symmetry. So, what’s symmetry? Ok, it’s simply understanding when you are standing straight, facing forward , you can line up your nose over your belly button then down the middle of your body through both of your feet. You are divided in half…or nearly so because we humans are not perfect.
ie} Figure 1. ( Mary Marie, in figure 1, is the sister of my main character, Wollard B. Warm, AKA “Woolie”, in my next book. She is demonstrating what alignment is. Mary Marie, AKA “Mitten Mouth” is presently puzzled about what that curly thing is on the ice and how did a figure skater do it? But that is for another article. She is pretty well lined up, as you can see.
Now…from sideways, your alignment is… straight with your ears over your shoulders, in line with your hips & ankles. No leaning forwards with your head down. *Fun fact…did you know your head is the heaviest part of your body? So, keep your head up for balance when learning to skate!
ie} Figure 2. Little “Woolie” is showing his alignment.
Once you understand and are able to control your alignment, your balance and skating skills can develop. Of course this is a very simple explanation, but it’s a start to understand your body’s symmetry. Learning to figure skate is not just standing up straight nor is it particularly easy, but for those who enjoy a challenge, it can become lots of fun to learn.