Attending Your First Practice

All practices are held at the EASTON Chiller, 3600 Chiler Ln, Columbus, OH 43219.

For your first practice we recommend arriving 30-45 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, not by The Chiller, so please contact us to be sure someone will be at the rink early to help you get set up with skates.

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 MUST wear the following in order to skate with us:

helmet — There are helmets made specifically for speedskating. However, you can wear a bicycle helmet and some skaters even wear one of the helmets available for loan at the Chiller.

eye protection — Occasionally, a person skating ahead of you may kick up some ice chips. We don’t want you to be hit in the eye. Therefore, if you wear glasses, that will be fine. Only clear glasses are permitted.

neck guard — You may be able pick these up in the hockey section at a local store such as Dick’s Sporting Goods. Look for a neckguard that has a “bib” that fits under your shirt. The materials should be cut resistant such as a Kevlar neck guard that uses Velcro. We try to keep a small selection of speedskating neckguards in stock that can be purchased at a club discount price of $20-$25.

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.

long pants or sports tights – these should be comfortable and should not drag too low.

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.

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.

ankle guards — we require our skaters to wear Kevlar ankle guards. Because these are difficult to find commercially, we have them available for $5 per pair.

speed skates – for younger skaters, we recommend renting 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 limited number of skates under oversight by Chris Knapp that have been donated or purchased with rental money over the years, but unfortunately we cannot guarantee that they are perfect. Some rental skates are also available for adults who join us. However, in order to preserve our inventory, we ask the adult skaters to obtain their own skates once they’ve been with us for a few months. We will be happy to provide you with more information about the rental program when we fit you for your skates.

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 enter the rink using the far door and be sure the group is aware that you are entering. 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 elite 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, 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. Buddy & Rachel will observe each skater and determine what specifically he or she needs to work on. They will continue to work with each skater to be sure his or her technique continues to improve. This applies to new skaters and elite skaters alike.

 

 

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