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Muscle Memory and Skating by Erika Kennington

Practice Makes Perfect …….. Or Does It?

The Role of Muscle Memory in Developing the Speed Skating Stride

Erika J. Kennington

What is muscle memory? As a speed skater, muscle memory and skating, and specifically the importance of building muscle memory, is a term often thrown around, yet rarely defined and almost never explained. When pushed for an explanation, many instructors give vague and varied definitions, some of which are extremely misleading. However, most definitions basically say the same thing; that muscle memory is the body’s ability to memorise (or perform automatically) a well rehearsed motion. Some elaborate further saying that muscle memory occurs when a movement, in this case the complex speed skating stride, is transformed from a conscious action to an automatic action requiring no thought.

Muscle memory is not an unusual phenomenon though, it is very much part of our everyday life. It is responsible for so many of our […]

By |June 5th, 2013|Articles|0 Comments

How to get the most benefit from your skating lessons

Inline skating lessons with an instructor aren’t cheap, and although I believe you get what you pay for, I’ve written this page in the hopes of helping you to get more out of your lessons. Of course I’m a little biased being an instructor myself.


It’s really important to practice between lessons if you want to get the most out of your money. Practice will help you improve on the drills and skills worked on in the previous lesson and will help settle your skating muscle memory of those movements. You’ll also spend more time on your skates which equates to more time spent working on your balance. Thus, when you start the next lesson, you’ll be at maximum sponge-like absorbency ready for all the cool new skills we’ll cover.

Muscle memory refers to the body’s ability to memorize, or perform automatically, a well rehearsed motion. Here’s a great article by […]

By |June 5th, 2013|Articles|0 Comments

Wheels and Wheelchairs

Wheels and Wheelchairs are a group of London-based skaters, rollerbladers and wheelchair users who go out together as a group on a regular basis. Their aim is to raise awareness of the difficulties that wheelchair users encounter on a daily basis, and they want to encourage wheelchair users to live more active lives, through their participation in outdoor sports.

The wheelchair users are pushed by the skaters, and together they cover a distance of 5 – 12 miles. They meet twice a month, and their joint trips usually start in one of London’s main parks – either Battersea Park or Victoria Park; and on the last Sunday of the month, they usually go out on the Snail Stroll, which is organised by the London Friday Night Skate.

As a group of able bodied and disabled friends, they go out together to do what neither group would be able to do on […]

By |June 3rd, 2013|Articles, Events|0 Comments

Everybody falls when skating

Yup, including me. Sooner or later, everybody falls when skating.

I’m not that bothered with a little lost skin. I was playing hockey with a bunch of friends and a push from another skater had me over. It wasn’t their fault – hockey is a contact sport after all, even relatively gentle pickup hockey in the park. Years of falling over meant that it was nothing more than a gentle roll. Eddy Matzger taught me years ago that the more you roll, the less skin you lose. That was a tip worth its weight in gold, and it meant that here I lost hardly any skin. Perhaps I’m a bad example by not wearing pads?

I must admit I’d normally want to wear shin and knee guards when playing hockey, but that’s mostly to avoid the pain of taking a stick to your shins. I’d […]

By |June 3rd, 2013|Diary|0 Comments

Skating in Norman Park, Bromley

I taught lessons in Norman Park today, which was rather good fun. Haven’t been here on skates in a while since we moved out of the area. It was a lovely sunny spring day, albeit with fairly cold air at 17 degrees C, hence the base layer.

I taught a couple of teenagers, and was super impressed with their politeness and ability to listen and learn. They were rather co-ordinated, and soaked up skating skills like sponges.

I don’t mind how fast people learn, as I’ll adapt to their pace, but it is nice to cover a lot in a lesson. Of course this means that each skill we do is practiced less by the students, so they won’t get as much muscle memory. On the positive side, they know what to do and how to practice it, as well as having the confidence to go skate on their own.

Oh, funny […]

By |May 27th, 2013|Articles|0 Comments

How to balance on skates

Why learn to balance on skates?

Balance on skates may seem obvious, but many people spend far too little time working on this essential and basic skill.  It’s the key skill to nearly everything you do on skates.

Think of speed – exceptional balance is the key to being able to set down effectively, to control your push and to limit energy wasting re-balancing.  The key to skating fast is to only ever skate with one foot on the ground at a time, which isn’t limited to skating forwards, but also to the double push and crossovers.  What about freestyle – so many moves rely on balance.  This includes many where you have both skates touching the ground – these rely on precise and crisp weight transfer for best style.

In summary, excellent balance is one skill that every good skater in every skating discipline will have developed to an exceptional degree.

There […]

By |May 26th, 2013|Articles|1 Comment

How to bend your knees on skates

Many people skate with legs that are far too straight, simply because it’s the easy option. In the end this will leave you with all kinds of negative effects, such as severely limiting your top speed and reducing your ability to balance. On the other hand, having both proper posture and good knee bend will up the power you’re capable of putting to the ground, it’ll enable you improve your balance, grace, and flow, and it simply looks far better. How to bend your knees on skates is a guide to help you be the best skater you can be.

This article is aimed mostly at those wanting to skate faster, more like speedskaters, though it’s clear that many recreational skaters also need to bend their knees more.

Proper posture

Just in shoes or bare feet, practice skating posture:

  • Whilst standing, raise your toes off the ground and wiggle them. This way […]

Drinking recovery drink, resting on a bench

Rest and recovery

I’m having a little relax on a park bench by the Albert Memorial, having just cycle commuted here. My cycle commute is fairly long, 23 miles, so I’m also drinking a little recovery drink, being a Mars milkshake in a bottle. That’s good recovery food as it has roughly three quarters fast carbohydrate and one quarter protein content.

Recovery food is very important when you’re doing a lot of exercise. It maximises the benefit you get from the training you’ve just done, and it prepares you for the next bout of exercise. Look on this as fuel for tomorrow’s cycling and skating, and for the day after also. If I miss out on recovery drink, I know that I’ll be suffering within days.

I’m about to start a skating lesson here, and will then ride home again afterwards, where I’ll have some more recovery drink, this time probably skimmed […]

By |May 26th, 2013|Diary|0 Comments

How to stop on inline skates using a heel brake

This tutorial covers how to stop on inline skates using a heel brake. It’s one of the easiest stops on rollerblades, but is still technically difficult for newer skaters.

Ready Position

Feet parallel, boots one hand’s breadth apart, wheels leaning outwards slightly.


Draw back the left leg, and ease forwards the right leg (with brake), keeping both the left-right space and the slight lean outwards of each skate constant. How long (forwards-backwards) should the scissor be? Looking from the side, there should be at least no overlap between the heelbrake on the front skate and the toe wheel of the back skate. For taller people this can be slightly longer still to ensure that you get the same leg angles.

Scissor inline skates to brake



Also known as the control phase, the slide is […]