With the world watching athletes take the ice, we are preparing ourselves for those moments we sit and hold our breath as figure skaters leap through the air. Figure skaters need impeccable coordination to win over audiences and judges with skilled jumps, spins, and choreography. Vision plays a critical role in their success, including strong spatial awareness, depth perception, and eye-hand and body-foot coordination.
We thought we’d break that down a bit more and geek out on the incredible influence the eyes have on the success of these routines.
Professional figure skaters need to be strong both physically and mentally. To seamlessly carry out their routine, they need to be consistently aware of their body’s position and location in the skating rink. As they change levels or speed, it is easy to lose balance without good spatial perception.
In addition to being aware of how their body position and movements affect their spatial awareness, figure skaters also need to know their position in relation to the sides of the ice rink, especially when moving backwards or landing jumps. Those skating in pairs have the added challenge of staying aware of their partner’s movements and location throughout the routine.
Eye-hand and Body-foot Coordination
While there may appear to be less eye-hand coordination needed in comparison to racquet sports or ice hockey, eye-foot and body-foot coordination is a must. To improve on these skills as well as strengthen their core, figure skaters may choose to cross-train off the ice with ballet. Balance and agility are both essential to this sport.
Figure skaters that are competing will be judged based on the International Judging System, which looks at their technical score, skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation. Even the smallest miscalculations and visual miscues can make the difference!
So to all you budding figure skaters out there, take care of those eyes!