Off-Skate - Before or after skating?
The first thing to clear up is the name. Off-skate training is called "off-skate" because it's the training we do when we are not on our skates, a special series of functional movements that simulate skating or activate the skating muscles, be they agonist, antagonist, stabiliser, fixator or neutraliser muscles involved in speedskating. In ice skating it's called "dry-land" training, because they skate on the ice and the surface of the ice is often wet. We skate on the land which is hopefully dry. So calling it "dry-land" training is a little weird in the sport of inline skating. Off-skate is not including biking, running, core training, weight training, simply because those activities already have names. These activities, when used as training for inline skating (as opposed as for their own sports sake) are generically called "cross-training".
Anyway... There's always discussion (and much confusion, gossip, pseudo-science and coach's opinions) about whether "off-skate" should be done immediately before, immediately after or many hours away from training session on skates. So here's the pro's and con's:
Immediately before skating.
The advantages of "off-skate" before a skating session are that you can activate the correct muscles (agonist, antagonist, stabiliser, fixator or neutraliser muscles) in the correct way prior to getting on skates and working hard. However, I see this kind of activation as part of a thorough and well-prepared warm-up routine. If this becomes so intense or so long in duration that it becomes a full-on training session in itself then it can have negative effects. Thus, the need for a personal program, or at least an understanding of the purpose of the session, because YOUR tolerance for "pre-skating-activation" are for sure different than most of the group. This is a common mistake in group training that people follow the top-skaters and do their volume/intensity and have already tired muscles when they start skating.
A secondary advantage of this protocol is that the off-skate (and often 'low-volume-plyometric') exercises are of the highest quality, because the body is well rested. Note: Plyometric exercises should always be done in high quality and low volume format, ensuring a true plyometric and maximal super-compensation.
So overall, the precise protocol you decide to use depends on your priorities/goals for the period of training you are in.
Immediately after skating.
The advantages are obvious for this protocol: You skate on fresh legs, you have a higher quality skating session, skating with better technique and for longer when compared to the "before skating" protocol. You also get the rather "physical "off-skate" session done immediately after, saving time of another warm up etc. And you maximise the amount of recovery time you have between your "off-skate" sessions and your next training session the next day.
A disadvantage is that your off-skate session and the quality of your exercises will be lower, because you are probably tired from skating. So again, it depends on your priorities/goals for the period of training you are in.
Many hours away from training session on skates (or on another day).
The advantages are that you will get full quality during the training and full recovery and super-compensation from this protocol. This is obviously if you are in a period of training which prioritises the off-skate benefits (pure strength/muscular endurance/explosivity etc.) then this would be good protocol, as "on-skate" sessions and "pure speed" would be of a lower priority.
The smart solution is to use different strategies (all of these strategies described above) during different periods of training, depending on the goals of the training block.
One additional point to note is that I can find NOBODY with a sports science background, or with a sports education, or even a respected top world coach that recommends doing "Hard and long off-skate followed by skating hard and fast". This is maybe because it would be highly likely that your skating technique would be poor, and that the quality of your skating session would be low in the start of the session and even lower by the end of the session.
The most important thing is that the coach (or you) understand where and when to use off-skate training and what advantages and disadvantages there are to your decision making process.
'Let's go faster'
You may want to check out our "Off-skate" and "Core training" E-books below: