How physical training and edge work help skaters generate power on the ice
This is part of Health and Wellness in Canada, a series in which Corus radio stations nationwide explore the health issues facing Canadians with the help of some of the diet practitioners and of today’s most respected exercise. Read the rest of the series here.
For figure skaters and professional hockey players, the sport is about more than ice practice, competitions and games. A growing number of athletes are also incorporating physical fitness and mental training into their off-ice diets, which helps them perform at their best.
The determining factor behind the drive, however, is generating the greatest amount of power with each push of the blade.
For Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, this kind of on-board training began when he was four years old.
“Edges are the things that keep you out of a lot of trouble and turns against the big guys in the middle of the ice. Here I can gain a lot of speed and I think confuse a lot of players, ”Marner told Global News.
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The 22-year-old Leafs assistant captain – and recently announced NHL star – is known for his cutting edge work, agility and ability to create space on the ice.
“There are a lot of big players in the NHL, especially defensemen… A quick cut can really upset a defenseman,” he said. “It’s something that I always train for, is to try to quickly narrow down and cut someone’s lane and have my time and space and my freedom to make a game and see ice.
Mitch Marner explains how on-board training translates into hockey games
The work of the edges is a crucial element to have balance and control on the ice.
Susan Ritchie, a motor skating instructor near the Toronto area who coaches both figure skaters and hockey players, said her training differs depending on the client.
“The weight on the blade, pressed into the ice at a specific angle, creates propulsion,” Ritchie explained. “With figure skating, you have to worry a lot more about the aesthetics of the posture, whereas with hockey, even if it’s quite similar, it’s functional more than anything else.
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Ritchie said it’s increasingly common for hockey players to incorporate figure skating training into their practice.
“We call them hooks in figure skating and we call them pivot turns in hockey.”
She noted that NHL players like Connor McDavid are known to blur the lines between sports.
“He might never put his foot on the ice and never spin a rocker with one foot like a figure skater would, but he knows what they are and he can do them because that’s the way it is.” that he trained.
“His agility comes through figure skating techniques,” said Ritchie.
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Skaters typically have at least one edgework session per week, but professional athletes focus on it every time they walk on the ice.
Sophia Perugini started figure skating at the age of two and a half in the Greater Toronto Area.
“They teach you how to get that proper outside edge or how to properly use that inside edge… Are you going to push with your foot pick or are you going to use the entire blade and use it fully from the inside out to get that power? “
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At the age of six, Perugini joined a synchronized skating team and has now competed for just over 20 years. His team, Nexxice, won the silver medal at the World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in 2010.
The sport of synchronized skating has up to 16 skaters performing as a team, flowing as a unit in formations of circles, lines, blocks, wheels and intersections, while performing footwork and complicated footsteps.
Higher levels run a short program of about three minutes as well as a long program of about five minutes, which includes lifts.
“I feel like the more time and effort you put into your edges, it just becomes effortless,” Perugini said.
It also helps in improving muscle strength.
“You would be surprised how much training you can get out of it,” Ritchie said of on-board job training. “It strengthens everything from head to toe, but especially from waist to toe, everything will be taxed.”
Physical training will also give skaters an edge over others. Professional and semi-professional athletes are required to maintain intense fitness regimes off the ice, which may include cardio, strength training and interval training, spin classes, and CrossFit workouts. , Pilates, ballet or yoga.
“Figure skating is very repetitive on the ice,” said Kyle Paraggua, a Toronto area-based strength and conditioning coach who has worked with Team Canada world figure skating champions Piper Gilles and Paul. Poirier, as well as with young athletes, fitness enthusiasts and teams. .
“You want to give them variability … put their bodies in a different position so that they get stronger in different ways.”
Paraggua also favors fitness testing when working with athletes.
“The fitness tests are super important. It gives me kind of a map to see where I need to go next, ”he told Global News.
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For athletes, many believe that the off-ice training is just as important as the on-ice component.
“You have to keep your body fit and in peak condition. I would say you have to make sure you’re always trying to be the best person out there, ”Marner said.
Perugini immediately noticed a difference on the ice once she started training off the ice.
“My upper body was stronger. I was able to hold my arms longer. I was able to lift people on my own, ”she said.
“It makes a huge difference.”
Competitive athletes will also spend time training their minds with mental work, such as meditation or visualizing a perfect performance.
“I think the best way to describe it is to get into the zone,” Perugini said. “Put aside any negative thoughts that may come to me or any doubts I have. “
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If it’s not mental visualization, Marner says it could be an educational element like video analysis.
“I think it’s just about trying to learn from your mistakes and trying to see what you can do best in certain games,” he said. “For me, personally, if I think I could have made a better game, usually on the bench we have an iPad, so usually I try to take a look at it and see what I’m doing. could have done better. “
Mitch Marner describes his physical training program
For those who have been skating for years or are just starting to get started, Marner has this advice: “What I always tell people is … have joy in the game and enjoy everything you do. .
“Just try to be your best.”
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