Warm Up Strategies On Small Rinks
Over the course of my skating career I've spent a lot of time on very small rinks. The first rink where I ever trained was the old San Francisco Ice Arena on 48th Avenue and Kirkham. It was tiny and was the oldest indoor ice rink in the US still standing for many years before it was closed down in late 1989. The first rink where I coached was the Palouse Hills Ice Rink in Moscow, Idaho which sits inside a big U-shaped tent. Then I was the figure skating director at the Lewiston, Idaho ice rink which was longer than Palouse Hills, but much narrower. In Tel Aviv the rink is about the size of a postage stamp, but worse, since it has three poles in the center of the ice holding up the circus tent it's in!
As a result of all that small-rink experience I've noticed that there is a big difference in warm up quality on a small ice surface. No matter how hard you try, it seems you just can't get the same aerobic workout stroking around a small rink that you get on a larger rink. I used to think that this was just psychological, but I've come to believe that it has to do with the way you change your skating to fit on a smaller surface.
Once you learn to stroke properly, you are getting enough power from basic edge control that you really don't have to push very much to get around a small rink. In fact, in some small rinks, you might find yourself holding back so that you won't hit the wall.
So, what can you do to get a good warm up and workout? I recommend working on exercises which are very basic but pack a lot of punch.
Try swizzles, for instance. Good swizzles, held low throughout the stroke with no bouncing up and down at all and strong edge pushing through your heels will really make you sweat. Your quads should scream at you after just a few laps. keep your arms up at shoulder height, too, and you'll notice the difference in no time. Do two foot swizzles on the straight-a-ways and one foot swizzles on the ends of the rink.
Do one foot swizzles in a figure eight pattern four to eight laps each, forwards and backwards. Remember to keep your weight completely over your "inside" foot, with that knee bent at a steady angle, and push only with the outside foot. Don't forget to keep your arms up high, hug your circle, and don't twist your spine when you are going forward. Remember: "Shoulders over hips" to keep your spine aligned.
You can also do change of edge pulls around the rink, staying on one foot throughout an entire lap. Don't put your free foot down at all during the lap. It's a little hard to turn around the corners at first, but once you get the gist, it'll be no big deal. Change feet at the beginning of each new lap.
Another super basic move that you can use to make your stroking warm ups harder on a small rink is the "funky swizzle". This is sort of a hybrid between the one foot swizzle and the two foot swizzle that makes a perfect crossover without picking up your feet at all. (I'll make another post just on the funky swizzle soon!)
You may not be able to safely skate as fast on a small rink as you would on a large rink, but you can still get a good workout and you can certainly get a proper warm up before you start working on your spins and jumps.