For the past two months I’ve been getting use to my speed skates and even had a competitive half marathon in them. I wanted to try them out myself and discover any issues before having any lessons. Now seemed to be a good time for some professional guidance before I pick up any bad practice with my speed skates.
The obvious person to go to for tuition was Mike Van Erp as it was his complimentary speed skating drill sessions that slowly changed my perceptions and got me interested in speed skating. Also not forgetting he is one of the London Skaters Speed Team coaches and was highly recommended by many of my friends.
The course was held in Hyde Park that consisted of three, two hour lessons; plus a video review. It was suppose to be on consecutive weeks but the English weather got the better of us. A lot of the classes had to postponed but Mike was very accommodating when it overran into unscheduled weeks. One Saturday it was called off but he compensated us with a free additional practise lesson on top of what we’ve paid for, even though it was the weather’s fault. Top man.
The class was for speed skating technique and ironically a lot of the exercises were done at a slow speed. It allowed us to concentrate on the nuances. Quite often the tasks would have made no sense to an outsider looking in, but they helped segregate to just one aspect of the leg movement. Mike made lots of big swooping chalk lines and shapes on the ground to aid us in understanding how he wanted us to skate.
There were exercises that had us remove a skate. It really made you aware of how lazy one leg can be, while the other leg compensates.
My slalom skating gave me a real advantage in some situations as I was already used to balancing in strange and awkward positions. One example is thrusting your front foot to carve left and right whilst your back foot is doing a toe roll.
The video review was good to have. Mike filmed us all separately from three different angles using his GoPro from his recumbent bike. We all received a link to everyone’s video and a very comprehensive set of notes for each of us. Being able to see each other’s fault and plus points helps us be more aware of what exactly is good technique. He pointed tips specific to each of us for improvement too.
While I felt more enriched with the theory of speed technique I’ve not immediately gone up a gear. These things take time.
I said earlier about not picking up bad habits. Mike pointed out that as I have been skating for over twenty years with the typical ‘street,’ style skate it would actually be harder for me in some ways over a newbie to re-program my skating style.
So practice is what I need to do now. Lots and lots. Especially at slower speeds. (So I can go faster!).
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen