This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

- men

At the highest level the men's side of the sport is considerably more "dense" than at the local levels. Locally it is quite rare to have more than one or two capable gentlemen competing. At the top level of course you have full representation.

In stark contrast to the women's side of the sport, the top men skaters are obviously a severe counter-example to what most of the world culturally expects for a man in his mid-twenties.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily, just that the particular contrast imposes very tight strictures on both the execution and the presentation of the male side of the sport.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

- audience rehearsal

While watching the skaters practice I realize that their efforts have aspects of a musician in a band or of a dancer rehearsing. At some point in the future they will be performing these exact moves in front of an audience, but the motion and the music are a front for something else: the spiritual work of entertaining the audience and diverting them from their pain and sorrows.

I suppose we tend to forget -- once we get caught up in the adult rat race for money -- that children are spiritual beings who are highly sensitive to feelings and matters of the soul. The good skaters, like artists, retain this childlike sensitivity. After watching the practice for a while you will see (amongst the artistic skaters) considerably more than just physical practice.

The rehearsal is the link to the on-stage performance: emotions flow back through time from the audience through the performance and then back into the practice. The skaters shatter the ether as they spin and fall to relieve the suffering future.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

- thighs

I mentioned in another post the importance of weight resistance work for building up your shoulders and back, and situps for your stomach. But this post is mostly speculative; I rather sense that weight training for the thighs makes such a large impact on your skating that I am worried the change might throw you for too large of an adjustment.

Naturally your thighs have more to do with your jumps than any other part of your body. But due to the relative percentage of their mass to your total body weight, and the movable action of your hips, a change in the mass of your thighs can have a radical impact to your spins and axels.

Heavier more muscular thighs increase the height of your jumps, and they also lower your center of gravity, which reduces precession when you spin (hence helping you land your jumps). Heavier thighs however also decrease your torque, slowing your rate of rotation.

Adjusting to such a dynamic and varied change is a significant chore. I suppose my general recommendation then would be yes, include thigh presses and curls in your weight training routine, but definitely check to get your coach's opinion first, and definitely proceed in a very measured and consistent routine so as not to overwhelm your ability to adjust your physics.