Part 2: Why your flick sucks and how to improve it
Part 2 of the flick series! In this video/article I'm going to go over everything you need to know about the hip and ankle and how they can affect the flick, along with how to train these parts of the body as well.
In part 1 I broke down the flick and how the body moves when we flick, along with some of the common problems people face when flicking. Check that here if you haven't already.
The hip and pelvis
So starting at the hip and pelvis, like I said in part 1 this is where the flick begins, meaning what happens here will affect everything else.
To flick we need to flex the hip, abduct it (move away from the body) and go through external and internal rotation at the hip and pelvis.
One thing I’ve noticed from slow-moing clips of pros and analysing their hips (what a weird sentence...) is a lot of them have pretty mobile hips, which opens them up to a load more movement options to actually do the tricks they’re trying.
Less movement options will increase the chances of compensations going on as your body tries to get movement from a joint elsewhere, which could throw the trick off completely.
Due to being born with shitty hips (one that’s already been operated on) I personally have no internal rotation, meaning the way I flick say a fs flip is different to Reynolds (see pic below). So it is true that structure is going to change how we flick, and you’ll have to work with what you've got although in most cases you will be able to improve mobility to a certain degree.
How much mobility do you need? Enough to move how you want to move.
But just having mobility and more range of motion can actually be a bad thing if you don’t have the strength to control it, which is why just stretching isn’t the answer to sorting the hip piece of the flick equation. Here some mobility exercises and resistance training is the key.
Building the strength, endurance and power for the hips and pelvis to move through the flick is massive not just for helping you flick well once, but to maintain the same technique and flick power throughout a session.
This is because fatigue can cause a loss in mobility which will change how you flick and cause you to move differently, this will also be huge for maintaining the quality of your skating for longer during your sessions, but it will also contribute to reducing some of the hip pain and stiffness skaters often feel after long sessions or a lot of flicking.
So hip exercises should be aimed at:
Increasing function and mobility of the hips and pelvis
Stabilising the core whilst ya legs do their thang
Building strength and power in the muscles involved with flicking
Increasing their fatigue resistance
Foot and ankle
Now next up on the bodily platter are the foot and ankle. Yeh we’re jumping right past the knee because I don’t think many flick related issues are really going to pop up here. When I say ankle I’m referring to the foot and ankle.
The ankle position when you flick is pretty dodge to be honest (check pic below). You’re essentially going into an ankle sprain position sometimes 100s of times per session.
During your normal non-skate life, your body and brain are going to do everything they can to avoid this position, because it’s obviously potentially dangerous, and in my opinion this could be one of the most important pieces regarding training the ankle for the flick.
For most skaters who’ve been skating and flicking for a long time, and rehabbed any sprains they've had well (probably 0.2% of skaters globally), you probably aren’t going to be limited by the ankle as your foot will be used to flicking, just by doing it. Flick technique and the resistance training for the hips should be where you focus most of your time (that you'll find in the flick program).
But for those who haven’t been flicking for a while, are coming back from a sprain or feel like they never regained the function in their ankles after a sprain, you should probably also focus on the flick focused ankle exercises alongside the others (also in the flick program).
So like I said in part 1, if we look at how the ankle works during the flick - it relaxes, pauses and snaps back. It isn’t a normal muscle action, but it’s more of an elastic reflex. This is why slow muscle focused exercises like that classic banded flick exercise aren’t going to do much, it might be useful for certain rehab situations, but the speed, angle and mechanics of the exercise have nothing to do with the flick.
When people are coming back from ankle sprains they can usually ollie again relatively fast, but it often takes so long to get that flick motion back and to feel comfortable doing it, even if they do a load of rehab exercises like the slow banded flick exercise. I think one of the main reasons here is because people aren’t rehabbing the ankle based on how it actually works during the flick - a fast, elastic reflex.
So ankle exercises should be focused at:
Regaining mobility if we need to
Building strength particularly in the end range of the flick
Training the brain to relax into the sprain motion whilst we’re flicking
Building elasticity in the foot and ankle
Skating and gradually exposing yourself to the flick motion
Now it's all good to focus on mobility, strength and endurance for the hip and ankle with specific exercises but it's also essential to do make changes with how you're moving when you're actually skating.
This is why in the free flick program I've not only included a bunch of skate-focused resistance training exercises, but also a bunch of "skate tasks" to increase the carryover of the exercises and the chance of your flick actually getting better.
These are little tasks that take about 10-15 mins and can be chucked onto your session. From working on foot position, to delaying the flick, it's all included.
So click here to check it out, and it's currently free so don't hang around!