For your first practice we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes early to get set up with proper gear.
The techniques we teach are designed for speedskates and will be more difficult in hockey or figure skates. The loaner speedskates are managed by the speedskating club.
You will notice that accomplished speedskaters in competition wear form-fitting spandex clothing called “skins”, with color-coordinated helmets, gloves, and skates. You’ll also notice some of this clothing at our practices. We don’t recommend that you make that investment right away. However, you should wear the following to skate with us:
helmet — There are helmets made specifically for speedskating. However, you can wear a bicycle, hockey, or skateboard helmet. Always required.
long-sleeved jacket or shirt – Layers are highly recommended. The ice is cold. Sometimes we will stand still and listen to instructions, while other times we will be moving and generating heat.
gloves – Should be comfortable and fit well. Baseball batting gloves come in junior sizes and work well, but almost any glove that fits well will do.
long pants or sports tights – These should be comfortable and should not drag too low.
speed skates – For younger skaters, we recommend using loaner skates from us if we have a pair that fits. New skates can be expensive. Before making the investment you may want to be sure the feet have stopped growing. We have a number of skates that have been donated or purchased over the years, but we cannot guarantee that they are perfect. Skates are also available for adults who join us. When the time comes to buy your own skates on line vendors are the usual option. See Links to Vendors, etc.
Additional equipment eventually needed or recommended
neck guard — You may be able pick these up in the hockey section at a local store such as the rinks pro-shop. Look for a neck guard that has a “bib” that fits under your shirt. The materials should be cut resistant such as a Kevlar or nylon. Required at competition.
knee pads — Padded knee guards such as those used in soccer, volleyball or inline are fine. Again, these should be available at any local sporting goods shop. They can be worn over or under the pants. Required at competition and usually build into the suit.
shin guards — These are generally a plastic guard that fits over the shin and is secured behind the calf with an elastic strap. Again, these are similar to what is used in soccer or field hockey. Avoid the style that have a loop running under your foot. They interfere with the fit of the skate. Required at competition and often build into the suit.
ankle guards — We recommend that skaters wear Kevlar ankle guards at competition, but they are not required.
How practices work
Some of our members arrive earlier in order to do some stretching or other warm-up exercises — always a good idea before getting on the ice. If you happen to arrive late, you may still participate, but please be sure the group is aware that you are entering the ice. We spend the first couple of minutes “putting out the pads”, which means lining the walls of the rink with padding. All skaters assist in this operation, as well as in putting the pads away at the end of practice. While the pads are being placed, one of our skaters will place seven small rubber “blocks” at each end of the rink to mark the track. Once the pads are in place and the track is laid out we begin a warm-up at a slow to medium speed. The flow of traffic is ALWAYS counterclockwise.
For safety during warm-ups, slower skaters should skate more towards the inside of the track, and faster skaters will skate outside.
After warm-ups, the coach will assign each skater into one of three groups: (1) younger skaters and new skaters; (2) experienced skaters; and (3) elite skaters. For safety and instruction purposes, usually each group will be on the track by itself, either doing slow or fast laps or a specific drill. Meanwhile, the other two groups will be in the center of the rink, one will be recovering from having been on the track and the other will be preparing to go onto the track.
The key to skating fast and under control is to master speedskating technique. Practices generally include a mixture of exercises involving technique, speed, endurance and starts. The coaches observe each skater and determine what specifically needs to be work on. They will continue to work with each skater to be sure that technique continues to improve. This applies to new skaters and elite skaters alike.
You can contact coach Bob Halden at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact John Watton at email@example.com, 724-325-2814 (call or text).