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details of each phase

for double-push technique, the "in-push" phases ip0, ip1, ip3, and ipA are described on a separate page. They replace Phase 0 of the normal-push stroking sequence given here.

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This is a detailed analysis of the sequence of moves for Leg-push motions of "normal  push" method of skating.

The additional "in-push" moves and phases for the "double-push" skating technique used by expert inline skaters are on a separate page.

The focus is on the effectiveness of various moves and timing sequences for propulsion, not fun feelings. But of course the main reason I choose to skate is because it feels magical and fun -- we say more about connecting the moves to those goals on other pages.

The immediate concern is for skating with skis on snow, but there are also notes for inline skating and ice skating, how the motions are different for those different kinds of equipment and surfaces.

This sequence of phases is not the "right" way to skate. Rather it offers a reasonable set of options, and analyzes the reasons for choosing (or not) each one. Few skaters do all these moves, and I doubt there is any skater who does all of them all the time. The main purpose of this analysis is to expose skaters and skate instructors to more choices -- more variety and more freedom.

Sources of these moves and timing sequence:

  • analysis of the basic physics and biomechanics.
  • videos of elite racers, analyzed with pause and single-frame-advance.
  • suggestions from other skaters and coaches.
  • my own personal experimentation with different moves.

Summary of phases and key findings

R - Recovery phase

for lots more detail, see separate page.  Here's some key findings:

  • Theme: Prepare to add reactive force to Set-down phase, and perhaps currently add reactive side-force to the other leg's push.

  • The parts of the leg are brought inward further toward the other side (while in the air) than would be necessary to reach the landing position of the set-down. This adds propulsive work in this phase (for double-push stroking), or enables added propulsive work in the next Set-down phase (for normal-push stroking).

  • There may be propulsive work from bringing parts of the leg further backward (while in the air) than would be necessary to reach the landing position of the set-down phase -- but only if there are certain motion patterns in the push phases of the other leg.

[ normal-push: ] If using simple obvious push with a constant aim-angle throughout, there's little need to give attention to forward-backward leg motion in the Recovery and Set-down phases.

[ double-push: ] The "lite" style is better suited for extracting propulsion from forward-backward moves in Recovery and Set-down phases. So if using the "big" style of double-push, less need to give attention to such forward-backward leg motions.

0 - Set-down phase

for lots more detail, see separate page.  Here's some key findings:

  • Theme: Add reactive side-force and perhaps forward-force to the finish of the other leg's push, and land the foot in position and with momentum to extract the most power out of this leg's upcoming push.

  • Set down the next foot before the previous leg-push finishes pushing: (a) to stop the mass of skater's body from falling too low; (b) to support the last part of the push by the other leg; and (c) to minimize any "dead spot" or "low power" gap in the stroke-cycle, by starting this leg's push as early as possible.

  • Go for maximum effective range of motion in the start of the main-push: [ ski: ] Land the ski with the minimum inward tilt needed to transmit force through the inside edge. Set down as close toward underneath the pushing hip and with as little ankle-pronation as possible. [ skate normal-push: ] Land the skate on outside edge further inside than its hip, and with the ankle supinated to reach across the centerline a little further.

  • Pelvis + hips do not face with aim of next ski or skate at set-down (which is different from shoulders). Optimal is to start with pelvis and hips facing somewhat toward the opposite side, so during the leg-push the non-pushing hip moves forward ("forward pelvis rotation" move). Then the pelvis + hips have turned to face with aim of the skate or ski at the end of the leg-push. (Also, the most propulsively effective positions and rotations of the torso + shoulders are often opposite to those of the pelvis + hips).

  • The set-down move can do actual propulsive work in itself -- not just preparation for work in other phases.

1 - Underneath push phase

for lots more detail, see separate page.  Here's some key findings:

  • Theme: Transmit side-weight-shift energy from previous phases into current push-force through the foot. Vertically raise the mass of the hips and upper body, to build "potential" energy which will add to push-force in future phases. Just after Set-down with the foot underneath the hip is the most effective configuration for this lifting.

  • The time just after the foot lands underneath the hip does not have to be "passive glide". The leg can already be doing actual propulsive work using moves describe here (also by starting some Phase 2 moves early, especially transverse-hip-abduction).

  • Maximum transmission of side-weight-shift energy into the foot: No absorption or collapse. One absorption "trap" is to allow the hip to go outward relative to the knee, instead of stabilizing the hip-knee configuration with the lateral-hip-abduction muscles.

  • Key move for raising the upper body is knee-extension. These strong muscles are at a more effective angle in this phase than in Phase 3.

  • Ankle-flexion move is also effective for raising the upper body in this phase, and helps to bring the hips forward.

2 - Central push phase

for lots more detail, see separate page.  Here's some key findings:

  • Theme: Push with moves that do not extend the leg (because the leg-extension moves are most effective when the foot is out further away from the hip). Some of these moves are already effective if started earlier in Phase 1.

  • Here are moves which are effective from close to underneath the hip (and less effective further away):  transverse-hip-abduction, inward-hip-leg-rotation (with bent knee), and ankle-pronation. Also forward-pelvis-rotation is effective either close or far.

  • ?? inward-knee-roll ?? There's another propulsive move available: ankle-flexion -- ?? provided it has been prepared for by an inward-knee-roll move which includes some hip-adduction. The drawback is that the inward-knee-roll is counter-productive for other propulsive work in the phase (especially the hip-abduction move), so it's used mainly by ski-skaters, not much by inline or ice speedskaters.

3Extension push phase

for lots more detail, see separate page.  Here's some key findings:

  • Theme: Push with the leg-extension moves, after the foot has moved far enough away from underneath so that these moves can be effective. Also use the forward-pelvis-rotation move.

  • Engaging the hip-extension muscles requires moving the knee and foot backward, not just out toward the side. Tilting the shoulders to the other side and moving the chest and shoulders upward and toward the other side, simultaneous with the hip-extension move is a possible way to enable the foot to move less backward.

  • Extending the knee joint is critical for effective extension, but often gets overlooked -- perhaps because it requires pushing the foot forward relative to the hip.

  • Actually it is not effective to go to true maximum extension, because some of the muscle moves needed to achieve it are either not propulsive or have bad side-effects.

  • Overlap legs -- Play with setting the next foot down just before starting this final phase of the current foot -- so the early part of Phase 1 of the next leg is simultaneous with the later part of phase 3 of this current leg.

  • Hold back the final toe-push / ankle-extension move: The heel should stay down through the finish of the hip-extension and knee-extension moves, for best transmission of their big push-forces.

  • Ankle-extension can also add a little force to inline skates and non-klap ice skates, if combined with outward-ankle-rotation.

more . . .

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