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The Basics of Speed Skating

An introduction to good speed skating techniques plus tips for practicing and perfecting those techniques. These tips came from a a long-time indoor and outdoor speed skating coach.

  1. Get Low. The lower, the better. Try for a 90 degree knee bend. Over longer distances, you won't be able to maintain this, but bend 'em as much as you can.

  2. Keep your weight centered and off of your toes. Push through the center of the frames. As an exercise, think about pushing through the heels at the end of the stroke. Make your heel-wheel the last wheel to leave the pavement at the end of the stroke.

  3. Push to the side, not to the back. Push as laterally as you can. Your foot will go to the back a little bit, but if you think "push straight to the side" you'll end up with a more efficient push.

  4. Transfer your weight completely to the new support skate. Don't just toddle back and forth from skate to skate; instead really fall onto the support leg. Make a total commitment of your body weight as you fall and push simultaneously. You should be able to fall on that support leg and then glide on one skate for a while. If you immediately tip back on to the other skate, then you weren't committed. You hedged your bets and didn't get as much push as you could have.

  5. It's also good to have a nice, relaxed recovery stroke. For this, imagine the McDonald's golden arches behind you on the pavement. Push to the side, then trace an arch behind you with your toe wheel. Your frames should be almost vertical with respect to the ground as you recover. Then, at the end, drive your recovering knee forward so your recoveraing skate is slightly ahead of your pushing skate. Don't just set it down. Instead sweep it to the side and fall on to it as in 4) above. This gives you a good, hard conventional power push.

  6. Cross-overs are pretty important. Try to push as radially (laterally) as you can with the foot on the inside of the turn. Lean in to the turn.

  7. Next you can learn the double push! Eddy Matzger does great camps on this!

  8. Another great resource is Barry Publow's book, Speed on Skates.

  9. The classic is ice speedskater Dianne Holum's out of print and hard (but not impossible) to find book, The Complete Handbook of Speed Skating.
Join the Discussion:
Do you have any additional tips for beginning speedskaters? Post a note in our Speed Skating Forum



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