WORKOUT // Overcoming hesitation
When I work with skaters on developing an off-ice plan, I ask the question “what do you think is the biggest obstacle in the way of you achieving your goal(s)?” One of the most common answers I get is, “my head”.
There are endless workouts to be found if your goals are to boost endurance, increase flexibility, or develop muscle strength. Ask about the mental work needed to improve your skill as a figure skater and things like yoga and meditation are usually recommended. Now, I myself am a yoga teacher so I have plenty of love for the practice and use it often in my coaching both on and off the ice. But improving your mind-body connection should be a part of every single workout. And beyond “building mental strength”, what we most often need to learn is how to relax our mental muscles and allow the rest of our body to do the work.
To be honest, there isn’t anything special about making this shift. Using just stairs, I share a simple warm up and three techniques that will, of course, involve physical work. But instead of focusing only on endurance, the purpose of these exercises is to learn to trust your body and decrease hesitation (video of examples at the end).
Run up and down the stairs
Focus: Maintain posture. Keep your eyes and your head up. Breathe.
“How many times” you ask? Until your muscles are warm.
ONE | Two-foot box jumps
Focus: Stick to just the second stair (or a bench) Reminder: this isn’t about jump height/strength. Maintain proper position (knees over ankles, eyes up, maintain posture) and rebound as quickly as you can. Remember to breathe.
TWO | One-foot up-and-downs
Focus: Stick to just the first stair and rebound as quickly as you can. Keep your hips square, posture tall, your eyes up, and rebound as quickly as you can.
**do not sacrifice form for speed & make sure to do both sides**
THREE | One-foot staircase
Focus: This one is a little bit different. Set up your alignment and posture at the beginning and keep your eyes pointed at the top of the stairs. On one foot, hop one step at a time. To begin, hop as quickly as you can just a few steps then check in on your alignment. Are your hips staying even? Are your shoulders staying square? Re-set + begin again. **make sure to do both sides**
Goal: Complete the staircase on one foot while maintaining beginning to end alignment without pauses between hops.
You’ll notice I didn’t list anything for how many times you should run through these exercises. To start, without working with you in person, it would be difficult to recommend a healthy number. But more importantly, counting—while it does allow us to measure and keep data—tends to keep us in our heads and out of our bodies. My recommendation is always: respond appropriately to your body. If you have the strength and energy to continue working safely, keep going. If you feel that you’ve reached a point where continuing will put you at a risk of injury, stop (seriously skaters, I know how you are).
See below for demonstrations of each technique: