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I went to a open training event last monday and we did that drill where you glide on one skate, and push laterally with the other.  During the drill we were told to push forward.  Finish the push with the pushing skate in front of the glide skate.  In "Speed on Skates" we're told to "Exaggerate the movement, trying to push to the side and forward slightly".  Why should we push forward?

Tags: technique

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Hard to answer the question well in this abstractness. Best answer would probably come from the drill instructor.

 

(I'm not familiar/remembering forward push as standard, except for the finishing of some versions of DP, in which case I think the forward motion should be a byproduct of weight transfer, rather than a conscious push.  But sometimes drills are done for reasons not obvious.)

 

Assume the drill is for straight line? Double push or classic?

 

Also, would help if you give the page # for Speed on Skates, for a context. At the bottom of page 46, I see nothing about forward.

 

(Perhaps better answers; I'm just replying because no-one else did.)

Thanks for the reply.

I don't have any confidence that the drill instructor knows why we push forward, and I'd rather not put him on the defensive by asking a question that he can't answer rationally.  I've already heard answers I didn't find credible.  A lot of instructors have you do a drill a certain way cause someone had them do the drill that way.

Besides, one can do a drill without knowing why and reap benefits that weren't intended anyhow.  Happens to me all the time with people I teach (not skating).  We do an exercise, and I'm often pleasantly surprised by what my students learn from it.

On to your questions:  In this case, we're talking about classic straight line skating.  From Speed on Skates p. 79:

... Exaggerate the movement, trying to push to the side and forward slightly.

However, I see now upon re-reading the whole quote presents this as a remedy for a common difficulty in executing the drill.  Specifically the tendency to "... push the leg back slightly, rather than straight to the side.".  So at least here we have a motivation for the action.

Page 46 is describing the movement on ice, but does make a comparison to asphalt, remarking that (paraphrasing) frictional forces and velocity tend to make the push travel slightly rearward.  I can understand the effect of frictional forces, but not "velocity" in this case.  But that's a different story.

That said, on page 10, he specifically talks about the push direction varying based on velocity and slope, but that in general it should be directed at a right angle to the direction of travel.  I find the remark "...there should occur ... a light external (outward) rotation of the hip joint..." interesting.  If my push is directed forward, I don't think I need to rotate my hip.  On the other hand, it seems like I'm missing out on hip extension.

Another reference I've seen to pushing forward comes Forward Stroking for Greater Efficiency, but it's hard for me to tell if that's a legitimate source.  The bit on terminating your stroke with a forward push makes sense though so, I'll go with it until I have reason to believe otherwise.

If I had to take a guess, I think that it is because people often think that they are pushing to the side when, in reality and in particular for technically less proficient skaters, this is not the case and the push is instead backward. Pushing sideways is much harder and that is also why one derives a stronger propulsion.  But the human body often goes for a "lesser effort" sort of argument. Hence, if you make a commitment to actually push forward, chances are that your push could eventually be correctly to the side.

Another case where many skaters actually think they are doing something right and instead they are not is the way they sit on skates, myself included. We all like to believe we capable of assuming  a low position, but videos often show that we are not even close to a real deep seated position. Many just bend their upper bodies, but their legs tell a totally different story.

Having thought about it a bit, slower skaters probably push backwards because they aren't moving very fast.  The faster one moves the less effective pushing backwards is.  If you are moving forwards fast enough, you can't push backwards fast enough to help you go faster.  So you have to push *more* sideways even though very little of that force helps you go forward.  But this all assumes you have two feet on the ground.  If you only have one foot on the ground, then your push needs to be radially relative to a curve on which your center of gravity (CG) is traveling.  I suppose this radial push could could finish in front of your body assuming you always face in the average direction of travel.  Well, that makes sense.  Somehow I don't think this is the answer the coach on site would have given.  Unless they also have a degree in physics, or mechanical engineering and assume I do too.  I actually did ask a coach "why push forward?".  She said "you don't".  I said "A coach last week said to finish the push forward".  She said "No".  I agreed to disagree.

I think we are mixing up cause and effect: you move forward fast because you push to the side and not backward! No skater I know of moves forward fast without applying a nice strong side push. So, in my mind, first come the push to the side and not backward and then comes the speed!

However, I would agree that nobody finishes the push forward for two reasons:

1) It is very difficult to do, probably impossible even, as while you are pushing your body moves forward and eventually you would be pushing sideways and perhaps even a tad backward; and

2) Strictly speaking a push forward, by the 3rd Law of Physics would result in you going backward! 

The "forward" emphasis, as far as I have been aware of, was always meant in the spirit of overdoing a thing that in reality most skaters do not do enough in the hope that the final result comes out about right. In any case you body knows best: when you are skating fast you will know, without too much coaching required, that if you want to go even faster, you need to go lower and push even harder to the side! Old trial and error thing suffices.

2) Strictly speaking a push forward, by the 3rd Law of Physics would result in you going backward! 

By this logic, a sideways push makes you go sideways and not forward.  You have to assume if only one foot is on the ground that you are moving in curve.  At some point the radius of this curve will point "forward", and pushing at that point will still help  your speed even in this "forward" direction.  I put forward in quotes, since it is only forward relative to your average direction of motion (ie if you average out all the right/left/right swerving).  It's not forward of your instantaneous direction of travel.



Chris Miner said:

2) Strictly speaking a push forward, by the 3rd Law of Physics would result in you going backward! 

By this logic, a sideways push makes you go sideways and not forward...............  

===============

Not exactly, because there is a friction that would prevent the wheels from moving exactly sideways... while a push forward or backward will meet resistance but of a different kind (rolling friction) or maybe a mix of both. And your skates need not be exactly parallel when you perform the push. Hence,  I think that your notion of "curve" is correct.

However, even in this case, a  push forward would end up pushing you back somewhat on that trajectory... (just split the push in its two projections along two different instantaneous axes ... one component would still be aimed in the wrong direction)

It is true that, since no push except perhaps the very first one is static, i.e., the skater is moving forward, if a skater pushes to the side, eventually the push would end up with a  backward component. Using a "reduction ad absurdum" type of argument, to maximize the thrust forward we should push completely backward, behind our butts!  In this way all power by the 3rd law of Physics would be directed in the right direction, but that cannot be done. Even if you could, probably it would be too cumbersome, too slow, and you could not apply the same strength that you do when you push sideways or in any case in a more traditional way.

I stop here for good. I'd rather skate and train then discuss what is probably little more than semantics.  I concentrate on having all my wheels to the ground during the core phase of the push. The direction I do not worry so much: when you are moving fast, you might be doing something right! And if you are slow and you want to become faster, trust me, you will learn on your own to push the right way. 



Chris Miner said:

...................

Another reference I've seen to pushing forward comes Forward Stroking for Greater Efficiency, but it's hard for me to tell if that's a legitimate source.  The bit on terminating your stroke with a forward push makes sense though so, I'll go with it until I have reason to believe otherwise.

=========

Wow.. I completely forgot about the articles by P.J. Baum. The guy knows his physics. I read a lot of them back in the days....  Thx for re-discovering them.. Now I will book that page! 

I stop here for good. I'd rather skate and train then discuss what is probably little more than semantics.


It's not semantics.  It's probably best described as skating theory, which is admittedly not very interesting for everyone.  Personally I like to know the whys and wherefores of what I'm doing or being told to do.  Helps me better filter all the advice out there.  Sometimes the reasons provided don't match my goals, don't make sense, or are based on a misunderstanding.  Then I know I can happily ignore that advice while making progress.  For this reason, I'd encourage everyone to know what exactly they're doing and why.  Avoids wasting time and effort.  Can also be motivating as it builds trust in your training regiment.  Something along the lines of "If I just keep doing X, then eventually one day I'll achieve Y".

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