Cross-training, what is it, how is it beneficial, and what activities should you be focusing on? All such great questions! Cross-training as a skater means participating in athletic activities, exercise, or sports, other than skating. By using other modes of training outside your main sport, you can develop other skills that can help you in skating, and enjoy many other benefits too!
Cross-training can mean going for a jog to improve your cardiovascular fitness, instead of skating countless laps on expensive ice-time. It can mean doing off-ice strength training to improve your strength and power for the ice. It can also mean playing a game of soccer to improve your agility, or a match of tennis to improve your coordination, or even swimming lengths to exercise while giving your joints a break from impact. These are all examples of cross-training that can benefit skaters physically. In addition, cross-training can be beneficial on your social life and mental health, by giving you an opportunity to build skills outside of synchro and cultivate a more diverse lifestyle.
We asked our community for feedback on ways to build your skating skill without stepping on the ice. These are just some options for developing related skills for on the ice. We do not recommend trying them all at once! See what interests you, and start with a single drop-in class to try it out, or even a free YouTube class. Here’s what our community had to share:
- Cross-training gives you an opportunity to build physical and mental strength by learning other sports and experiencing how other coaches teach skills and disciplines to their athletes.
- Ballet is an amazing activity for learning better posture, body awareness, and alignment that will help with all areas of skating, but especially turns and twizzles. It also helps teach grace and control, which are great skills to have for skating.
- Training in different forms of dance improves your “movement vocabulary.” It teaches you how to move your body in space, while helping you develop musicality and timing. This will help you to interpret music and portray different styles of music better on the ice.
- Various forms of gymnastics can help to develop your flexibility and strength in flexible positions, allowing you to enhance your skating through extension and improve the quality of your field moves.
- Practicing Yoga can help you to relax and manage your stress though calming motions and breathing. You may find you perform better and get injured less when you relieve your stress through things like Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.
- Weightlifting and activities such as CrossFit can teach you proper lifting techniques while developing the strength and control needed to perform difficult skills like group lifts, vaults, and death spirals in synchro.
- Playing other sports like soccer or tennis can help develop skills that can benefit your skating, like aerobic endurance, agility, co-ordination, and general athleticism. These sports can also introduce some “fun play” into your lifestyle, and allow you to interact with people outside of your synchro team – plus, if it’s outdoors, the fresh air and Vitamin D is a nice bonus! Especially if you don’t enjoy jogging, playing sports can be a great way to get cardio training without the monotony of a treadmill.
- Martial arts are a great way to develop skills beneficial to your physical health like balance, control and strength along with skills like discipline and breathing that can also be beneficial.
- Cross-training helps to prevent over-use injuries, especially in young skaters. Skating involves fairly repetitive motions, and develops particular muscles which can lead to muscle imbalances. By engaging in other sports and activities, you can develop other muscles that may not get used in skating, but are required for whole-body health.
Cross-training is particularly important in young athletes, who are especially at risk of over-use injuries and burnout. Whatever type of cross-training you choose, try to find something you enjoy, because the benefits of training are limited by how much you enjoy the activity. Venture outside of your comfort zone as you look for activities that can benefit what you do on the ice this season, and above all, listen to your body and be safe J Happy training!