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technique and drills for skating lower

eebee's picture
Does anybody have any ideas on how to practice skating 'a little lower now'? That is, how does one actually know one is as low as one believes oneself to be, and how does one remember to keep down there, and not get lazy and stand up? Obviously I'm not talking about being in the lead pack, else it'd be pretty clear I'm not as low as the rest of them!! I'd look like a prarie dog. Skating lower not only looks more skaterly, it gives the quads & glutes a much better workout. Who knows, maybe it'll eliminate my ankle problems, too. I remember seeing Barrie Hartman gliding around a parking deck, super-low, super-fast and totally in control. I wanna skate like Barrie!


andrewinnc's picture

Pretend you are going uphill

When Marcia Woodfield was in town she gave me a few suggestions of things I could do to skate better and faster. One of them was to bend my legs more, but she said to do it like I do when I go uphill. I never thought about it, but I started paying attention to my uphill form and I do seem to get lower and bend lower and extend my legs more, longer stroke and more push. 

So I have been concentrating on doing that as I do laps and it has helped my times out dramatically. I stay lower for longer periods of time and notice i have better form. Skating puts our bodies in an unnatural position, so we have to get them used to it. Also a quote from Marcia.

I have also started doing crunches to strenthen my abs. I think this is helping me also to stay lower for longer periods of time.  

timv's picture

No we got nothing in common

Does anybody have any ideas on how to practice skating 'a little lower now'?

If Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian don't do it, I don't know what else to try. :-)

In every sport or other physical activity that I've tried, I've heard the same thing: "Bend your knees more." I think some of that is just in the way that we're put together. The fast-twitch people who can sprint and jump high and all that seem to have an easier time getting down low too. I wonder if there might a difference in muscle attachment points, in lever arm lengths and mechanical advantages. I can leg press a lot of weight with my legs fairly well extended, but I seem to have a sticking point around 90 degrees where it feels like I just don't have much leverage. I really feel that when trying to do one-legged squats. I'll bet that having fairly long legs doesn't help here either.

I recall watching Jesse Flores from NYC skating a lap around Country Park in about 2/3 of my best lap time, so low that he seemed to have both hands and both feet on the ground. So I know what you mean about Barrie.

But kjg's recollection of Eddy's advice sounds like it's on target. I recall hearing something along those lines too, more or less that the longer you can extend your fall and delay touching down that skate, the lower and better off you'll be. Low is definitely a big advantage both for aerodynamics and for getting a longer push stroke. But there's what's low for me and what's low for the young fast hotrods. And it's better not to mix the two, as someone once sang.

It's hard times befallen 
The sole survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old
eebee's picture

knee bend

Yeah I know all about that growing old and going crazy thing.


I like the term "Mechanical Advantage" in conjunction with skating. In my own fuzzy and sporadic observations, it seems like those folk with relatively long knee-to-foot length, relatively short hips-to-knee length, and relatively short torsos have the mechanical advantage, no matter what their height. Their skating looks more effortless and they seem comfortable and stable in their lower position. I think I am the complete opposite of this.


Having said all that, I tried what KJG mentioned with the delayed set-down again today and remembered how that whole momentum thing works! Using gravity sure helps. Skating lower comes a bit more naturally when focusing on the delayed set-down, than just trying to bend your knees more.

kjg's picture

Here's what I was trying tonight...

I remembered something that Eddy had said in the workshop about your fall and just when you are ready to put your foot down lift it up again and modifies it slightly. Every time I finished my recovery and put my foot down before the stroke I bent my knee a little more. I was conscious about stretching my arms down my back so that I wasn't just bending with my back but was actually getting lower and I kept bending with every stroke until I was much closer to the ground and felt like I was flying! Obviously it will take a little getting used to especially it seemed with the stomach muscles but I really felt like I was getting much more power from my push. My GPS is broken so I wasn't able to make a direct speed comparison but maybe that is just as well! This may be old hat but it was quite a revelation to me to translate being told to "get down lower" to making it happen. I was quite pleased. 
eebee's picture

Skating lower

That's a useful-sounding way to go about deepening the knee-bend. Did you notice your heart-rate go up, too? I have found on the odd rare occasion that I am believing myself to be actually skating lower, I end up speeding up without trying to, and my hr goes way up, too.

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