Tag Archives: coaches corner

Axels Advice from some Professional Figure Skating Instructors

In the past we asked some professional ice skating instructors their advice on helping skaters work on and land their axels.  Here is what they shared with the Ice Skating World community concerning this all-important jump.

Subject: AXELS

Submitted by: T.G
“In response to the axel gaining height…. I would have the skater do back-to-back axels. See how many they can do in a row type of game. This will force the skater to develop power when she is entering the jump. By the third or forth axel they will really have to work on the take off . Afterwards, remind them of the muscles they were using and to try to apply that on an axel when being done by itself. This exercise usually takes a few weeks to work, but with patience, power will develop and it will result in more height.”


Submitted by: Valerie
“My advice is to work back spin and walking over to the backspin. The student can work on the jump at home by jumping up and turning back on stair step. Pay close attention to the free leg and have them practice swinging free leg in and up. Good for those with inverted hip lines. Happy axels!”


Submitted by: Katie
“Although I am not a coach, I am a figure skater who figured out how to do a proper axle about a year ago with the help of my coach. Her tips were ‘kick up,’ ‘don’t stop with top pick before takeoff,’ ‘stand straight,’ ‘transfer weight in the air,’ and ‘keep your right arm and whole right side up.’ All these tips can be used for my doubles too. I just thought I’d share the tips I’ve learned. Good luck and happy skating!”


Submitted by: Sylvie Kademian
Rink: Kettering Ice Arena
“Have your student try the jump from a stand still. That way he/she has no forward momentum to help complete the rotation. From a stand still, the only way the student will get the rotation is to jump ‘up’ instead of ‘out.’ Once the student can confidently do it from a stand still, move to an entrance from a forward outside edge. Then do an entrance from crossovers. HOPE THIS HELPS.”


Submitted by: Angela
“[Response to Patti Brown] Hi Patti, I have a student that tends to get more ice coverage on this jump than height. Unfortunately, this jump is so intimidating. I would work on making sure that when the skater is making the transition from the gliding foot to the take off foot they do not fall to an inside edge (outside edge to outside edge), they keep their chest and chin up the whole time (if they look down, that’s where they will stay!), and the free leg and arms work together. And as their weight transfers in the air, an example I use is: it’s like a fireman sliding down the pole. Anyway, I hope this helps.”


Submitted by: Chris Mattern,

Rink:  Starcenter, Dallas
“[Response to Patti Brown]. I had a student with the same problem I found I needed to put a little skid in her take off. That makes her go up instead of out it also initiates the rotation. Not a big skid just about 2-3 inches right at the end of her take off. Also on the back edge have her lean into the circle and make sure she’s not lunging forward when she steps in. I hope this helps and good luck!”


Submitted by: Marta Nilsen, Lexington Ice & Recreation
PSA Ratings: MM, CFS,CG,CCS,CD

“I like to start my students working on waltz jumps into backspins a month or two before I plan to start on the axel. This way they are practicing the actions and gaining muscle memory before we really start working on it. I think this adds to their confidence when they actually attempt the axel for the first few times.”


Subject: AXELS
Submitted by: Patti Brown, Centennial Ice Arena Highland Park
“I am glad that this topic is here because I am having a devil of a time with a student and her axel. My biggest problem with her is that she has no lift in the jump but great ice coverage and she does not get the concept of attacking the jump. We have done waltz-loop, waltz back scratch, double bunny hops. I have had her jump towards the boards so she has to lift in the jump otherwise she hits the boards.”

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Plyometrics: Beneficial for All Disciplines of Skating, Singles, Pairs and Ice Dance

 by Carl M. Poe

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
July / August 1996 – pp. 37 – 38.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

With the emergence of various off-ice training program theories, a handful of ideas or concepts are available for skaters to utilize in their training. The method of Plyometric training should be among the main training components (along with strength, flexibility and endurance conditioning) for complete development of the skater. More specifically, plyometric training is not just for the singles skater who wants increased explosiveness for jumping, or greater eccentric leg development for landing strength. Plyometrics is just as valuable to utilize for pairs and ice dance in order for performance enhancement.

Pair skaters can utilize plyometric training not only for jump performance but to increase upper body dynamic power for their respective skill movements on-ice (lifts, throw jumps, etc). Ice dancers can perform plyometric training drills for Hip/Leg power and speed of movement performing various footwork drills, lateral hops and bounds and other related movements. Also, ice dancers can benefit from upper-body plyometric (arm drills) for enhanced dynamic power to enhance on-ice lifts and arm positioning. The importance of plyometric training specific to these three disciplines, involves speed/strength enhancement of the Hip/Leg, Torso/Abdominal and Arm/Shoulder and Upper Back areas.

Example of Plyometric Drills for Singles, Pairs and Ice Dancers may include the following:

A. Singles-

  • 1. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Jumps in Place
  • 2. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Horizontal and Vertical Bounds
  • 3. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Box Jumps
  • 4. Rotational Jumps (weighted)
  • 5. Medicine Ball Rotational Drills
  • 6. Abdominal Plyometric Sit-Ups

B. Pairs-

  • 1. Same as Above (singles, 1 – 6)
  • 2. Medicine Ball Chest Pass
  • 3. Medicine Ball Throws and Catches
  • 4. Medicine Ball Push-Ups
  • 5. Drop Push-Ups

C. Ice Dance -

  • 1. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Strides
  • 2. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Hops (lateral and horizontal)
  • 3. Alternating Foreward and Backward Bounds
  • 4. Med Ball Rotational Drills
  • 5. Medicine Ball Abdominal Sit-Ups
  • 6. Med Ball Throws and Catches
  • 7. Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Finally, coaches and skaters should understand specific principles (guidelines) of off-ice plyometric training. In order to benefit from the training adaptations of plyometrics, the following guidelines are recommended for safety and proper execution of Plyometric Training:

I. Safety

  1. Training drills need to be appropriate for the age and level of the skater.
  2. A general and specific total-body strength training phase should be implemented 6-8 weeks prior to beginning jump/ Plyometric training.
  3. Proper progression (intensity) of drills from general motor-skill development to sport-specific.
  4. Proper Equipment
    • a. Footwear: skaters should wear shoes with adequate ankle/heel support (i.e. basketball or cross-training shoes).
    • b. Soft Landing Surface: mats, cushioned aerobic floor, sprung wooden floor, or soft grass should be utilized for performing drills.
    • c. Boxes: jump boxes should be durable with an adequate non-skid landing surface – Heights for skaters (Preliminary – Senior level) can range from 8″ to 35″ respectively.

II. Technique (emphasis should be placed on the following)

  1. Explosive takeoff, good knee-bend, arm-swing and appropriate vertical positioning of the trunk, back and head.
  2. Control of landing, absorbing (eccentric) the landing with a good positioning of the upper body (arms) head, back and trunk.
  3. key to success for jump/ plyometric training involves emphasizing the following:
    • a. Maximal effort on jump / drill attempts
    • b. Appropriate use of both upper body (arms) and lower body (hip / legs)
    • c. Correct posture or body positioning.
    • d. Quickness (speed) – When landing and taking-oft for another jump attempt, the skater must ‘Minimize” the amount of time spent on the ground or floor. Must be a quick rebound jump.

Cad M. Poe, M. S., C. S. C. S., served as the office strength and conditioning coach for the Colorado Springs World Arena, Colorado Spdngs, CO. Mr. Poe has been involved with strength/power training and conditioning training ofskaters beginning with his work at the United States Olympic Training Center and currently through the USFSA at the Elite and Regional Training Camp levels. For any questions regarding plyometric training for figure skaters, please contact Mr. Poe via the PSA directory.

Recommended books: Progressive Plyometrics for Kids

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To Be or Not to Be…A Corporation

A feature of Coaches’ Corner for Ice Skating World

by David Shulman (PSA Legal Counsel – 1997 )

Reprinted with premission from : The Professional Skater Magazine May / June 1997 – p. 29. ©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

A number of skating coaches have sought to operate businesses other than the teaching of skating to accumulate property and earn income. During the course of this quest for additional income and a more secure future, business opportunities may arise which suggest the forming of a corporation to operate that business.

The leading reason for incorporating any business is to gain personal protection from the corporate debts. If someone gets hurt on your business premises or perhaps a deal goes badly, you want to make sure that the only assets which are in jeopardy belong to the corporation. You don’t want to have your personal estate being attached for the debts of a business which you operate. If you incorporate your business and properly follow the rules governing corporations, you may avoid personal liability and attachment of your personal assets for the business debts. If you fail to follow the rules, a court can pierce the corporate veil and hold you and other owners personally liable for the debts of the corporation business. It is therefore important that you understand exactly how a corporation is expected to operate and follow all of the rules for such operation.

Until recently, corporations could only operate for a limited duration and have a limited allowable purpose. Most legislatures have now allowed corporations to be formed under a new business structure, the limited liability company (LLC) which offers liability protection as a corporation with fewer restrictions. It is relatively easy to begin the corporate structuring by forming a limited liability company but certain rules should be followed at the outset.

  1. Provide enough capital upon the formation of the business to meet your expected expenses.
  2. Keep business records separate from personal records.
  3. Document all transactions between the business and any of the corporate shareholders – owners.
  4. File all reports required by your particular state’s secretary of state.

Because legislatures allow corporations to shield their owners from liability and thus encourage business development, it is important that the shareholders-owners follow all of the established rules required for the operation in any particular state. When you are forming your corporation, make sure that there are enough assets to operate and pay all creditors at the beginning of the corporate existence. Always keep separate income and expense sheets for personal expenses versus corporation expenses. Hold annual meetings to elect officers and directors, even if they are the same people as the shareholders. Minutes of these meetings must be kept. Nothing is more exciting than to have an audit by a state taxing authority only to discover that five years of corporate records need to be constructed in the lawyer’s office two days before the audit is to take place. Not only is this expensive, it is very dangerous to the corporate existence.

Be sure to file any annual reports with a proper state agency. Failure to file these reports, and pay any filing fee, could result in the corporation being dissolved. Make sure major decisions are made by all of the directors as required under the operational rules of the corporation. One individual making decisions without consulting the board, when it is required to do so, could result in a court ordering the dissolution of a corporation which is a fraud.

Finally, make it clear that the business is operating under a corporate structure. Always have officers sign contracts and purchase orders in the corporation’s name, never in their own name. Failure to properly indicate your corporate capacity could result in personal liability for any business debt to which you have agreed to pay.

Whenever corporate funds are used to pay any of the owner’s personal expenses, it should be authorized by the directors as part of the owner’s compensation package. Always, always treat the corporation as a separate legal entity. Operating under the rules as suggested may be a nuisance but it is the price for protection of your personal estate.

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Obtain a New Professional Position with Help from PSA Coaches Manual

by Shirley Carlson Hughes
(New Age Professional Skater (NAPS) Chairman – 1996)

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
February / March 1996 – pp. 27 – 28.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

What follows is an excerpt from the PSA Coaches Manual which deals with the challenge of finding a new professional position.

JOB SEARCH

Establishing Personal Goals

It is imperative to begin the process of finding the right job by developing a clear understanding of what you want from the job. No two people have exactly the same objectives for the professional aspect of their lives and defining and prioritizing your own goals is a critical first step in a successful job search. There are many ways to approach this process but consider writing down your goals and discussing them with close friends or associates whose opinion you respect. Examples of questions which you may wish to consider while establishing these goals include the following:

What aspect of teaching interests you? Recreational/group lessons or competitive skaters? How much time are you prepared to spend? Do you want a full or pant-time job? Will you work early mornings? Evenings? Weekends? Will you relocate? Do you have long term goals include running a skating program or skating rink? Do you wish to advance to elite coaching? Are you prepared to attend seminars, clinics and explore other career enhancing opportunities? Would you be prepared to team teach?

Once established and prioritized, these personal goals will be an important tool in shaping your résumé, focusing your search for opportunities and in preparing for interviews.

Writing a Resume

The French word résumé means summary and refers to a fact sheet that identifies, describes and lists the qualifications of a person in terms of experience and education. While you will never obtain a position solely on a resume, it may well be the key to obtaining an interview and eventually the job. Your résumé should be well-organized, concise, clearly formatted and comprehensive. There are books available to help you develop a resume, either at most bookstores or in a library. Many computer programs enable you to format a resume. After preparing a résumé, consider asking friends or associates to review and comment on it. There are also résumé services available if you would feel comfortable with professional assistance. Résumés are not normally returned so ensure you keep the original. Take the time to have high quality copies made – remember, first impressions are important.

Arrange your résumé so that your most impressive qualifications appear first. Never overstate your experience or qualifications. List job experience and education in reverse chronological order. You may wish to include a list of references or reference letters with the résumé or, at a minimum, offer references if requested. Your résumé would normally include the following types of information:

  • Name, address, telephone number
  • Ratings (as applicable)
  • Highest tests passed (USFSA, ISI, ISU, other)
  • Competitive experience with highest title first (list only the most important)
  • Amateur training, clinics (including when, where, with whom)
  • Amateur or professional shows and exhibitions
  • Coaching experience (highest level skater you have coached)
  • Coaching education (seminars, coaches clinics, classroom, student-teacher)
  • Other education (college, high school, music, dance)
  • Outside interests
  • Personal (married, children)

When your résumé is prepared you must decide where to send it. Seek the help of friends and associates. Be sure that it reaches the hands of someone who is in a position to offer a job. Some of the sources that you should consider in determining where to

send the résumé include local ice rinks, lists of clubs in the USFSA Rulebook, lists of rinks in ISI Directory, advertisements in Skating, The Professional Skater and other publications. There is also a Job Placement Directory in the PSA Office.

Use a brief cover letter with each résumé. This is your chance to personalize and focus your communication regarding a specific opportunity. Note your most relevant qualifications, and explain your interest in the position.

Remember, the résumé will always be an important tool in furthering your career. Even after you have the job, keep your résumé up to date. Consider revising it every six months. It helps you be prepared for the next opportunity and also gives you a benchmark to ask what you have done to increase your experience and nurture your professional growth.

Interviewing Effectively 

Once you have been contacted and invited to an interview begin by reviewing your résumé and list all the questions which you might be asked. Find out as much as you can about the position and the person(s) who may be interviewing you. Look your best, be on time, be concise, emphasize your best points, relax! Some of the questions which you might expect to be asked include:

How many years have you been skating? Why do you want to teach? What are your schedule restrictions? What level of teaching experience do you have?
Why did you leave your previous job? Will you bring your own students?
What levels will you teach (adults, tots, etc.)? Are you prepared to make a commitment to stay for a specified period? Do you intend to continue your professional education?
Will you participate in community events, advertising, etc.?

It is important that you interact with your interviewer in a proactive manner. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the job being offered. You should prepare a list of questions which you want to ask during the interview. The following list may provide some examples.

  • Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • If employee: What would be the base salary? How often would you be paid? Would taxes be withheld?
  • If contractor: What would be your commission and how would you be paid?
  • Who will be your direct supervisor (rink manager, skating director, club)?
  • What are the payment policies for private lessons, group lessons?
  • What are commissions? How much is paid? How often are they paid? When are they due? On which lessons?
  • Is liability insurance required? Provided? How is it obtained? What kind? What level? What is the cost? (Liability insurance is available through the PSA).
  • Are you required to join the PSA, ISI or both?
  • Will you be expected to be rated by the PSA?
  • What are the policies with regard to setting fees for private lessons?
  • What is the policy with regard to teaching at other rinks? Are there any limitations or restrictions?
  • Are there rink/club policies regarding private lessons? Can you teach anyone who asks?
  • Are there set policies/formats for group lessons? Are there tests at the end of each set? USFSA, ISI or other?
  • Will you be asked to provide administrative support? How much? Are you paid?
  • Will you be expected to cover certain sessions as the pro on duty?
  • Will you be expected to give tests, judge basic skills competitions, ISI competitions?
  • Will you be expected to volunteer time for stroking clinics, or club/rink shows?
  • Is there a pro room? Is there a dress code?

You may be hired at the interview but more likely that you will be told that you will be called. Do not hesitate to call back and reemphasize your interest in the position if you have not had any follow up within a week or so. On the other hand, inform your potential employer in a timely manner if you decide you do not want the job or have accepted another opportunity.

First Impressions

After you get the job you need to make special preparations for the first few days. It really is true that first impressions last a long time and there are things that you can do to ensure that the first impressions you make are good ones:

  • Be on time and look professional. Many people at the rink will see you before they meet you. Present a good image to everyone.
  • Work hard at meeting the many groups at a typical ice rink including the other pros, management, ice maintenance staff, office staff, and skate shop staff. Remember names, write them down if that helps.
  • Familiarize yourself with the entire rink schedule, take a brochure home and study it. Know the sessions and the prices, even for those areas which you do not teach.
  • Learn the rules of the rink; what is permitted on public sessions, who you can instruct and at what level. Determine all the details of group lessons, including levels, prices, group sizes, etc.
  • Identify the clubs at your rink and when their sessions meet. Do you need special permission to teach on these sessions? Who can authorize you?
  • Find out when and if tests are given, and the name and phone number of the test chairman.

You are not expected to know everything when you first arrive. It’s the best time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your situation. Make it an exciting, challenging experience – not a threatening one.

Editor’s Note: Ice Skating World offers a Job Board which lists jobs at ice skating rinks throughout the country. Check it out

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Perceptual Modes or V.A.K Learning Styles

 by Ann-Margreth Frei

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
March / April 1997 – pp. 13- 14.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

Learning styles or perceptual modes of learning represent one of the most effective tools we have for diagnosing how our students learn. They allow us to adjust our delivery and create clear lines of communication that are essential to the learning process. By taking a big chunk out of the trial and error process of teaching, the end result is a greater satisfaction for the teacher and a real sense of accomplishment for the students.

V.A.K. = Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic

Senses play an important part in learning to skate. When we teach, the more we cater to all senses rather than just one or two, the more deeply we will anchor the skill we are trying to teach.

Everyone tends to learn more dominantly in one of the three modes; visually, auditorily or kinesthetically. What is your learning sense? Interestingly enough, if you are dominant visually, y9u may tend to teach primarily to that sense. It is important to remember that our students may be dominant in another learning sense which we will need to cater to in order to be most effective.

Statistics indicate that:

29% of students are visual learners

23% are auditory learners

34% are kinesthetic learners and

14% are mixed learners

The visual learners will see, imitate and be able to mimic instantly. Clear demonstrations or modeling other skaters is helpful to them. They will say “I see what you mean,” or”l don’t get the picture, show me what you want me to do.” The visual learners need a clear image of what they are going to accomplish from both the “big picture” and detailed perspectives. When explaining, create word pictures that help the students visualize the movements. They like to watch, visualize themselves doing the same movement and then try it. Solicit feedback for understanding relative to the student’s clarity of the image you have created.

The auditory learners need explanations and all the data. They are more matter of fact and methodical. They need to think things through so they have a clear and logical understanding of the movement pattern that they are attempting. They might say “that rings a bell,” “yes I hear you,” or “I understand.” Building a detailed framework is essential because it creates a logical, progressive and orderly sequence for developing, combining and applying skills. They are very aware of sound so make them hear the scratching of their stroking or the smoothness of good skating. Checking for understanding on a cognitive (knowledge gained) level needs to be done often to ensure that the students really understand.

The kinesthetic learners need to feel the movements and get their feet wet. They will say things like “that jump felt good,” or “it’s not comfortable, I feel awkward doing this.” Take a single focus and then explore all around it to help the students develop accurate feelings and sensations associated with the correct movement. Have the students verbalize their internal state after performing so they can increase their kinesthetic (feeling) awareness. Use language and explanations that are “feeling” specific (e.g. feel the ball of your foot in the spin).

You may need to help your students become aware of their senses. They might need to learn to feel parts of their bodies, to learn to watch your demonstrations and learn to listen to the sounds of their blades (and you will)!

Practice presenting pieces of your lesson from every angle, then from all the angles.

  1. This is what it looks like. Do a demonstration in segments or completely. (Use another student to demonstrate if you can’t demonstrate.)
  2. Explain the skill technically in details and if suitable mention the sound of it. “Did you hear the scratching on your take off or the skidding?”
  3. Tell or ask your students what it feels like. “Can you feel the tension in your leg as you lock the knee of your free leg?”

Try to guess what people’s dominant sense is. Did one student have the light bulb turn on when they had to feel something or another when you demonstrated clearly or took the time to give a good metaphor? Make a list of metaphors to help draw on your students senses and past experiences. A metaphor “is like.” It looks like a V. It feels like spreading butter on toast. It sounds like a gust of wind.

Statistics show the retention percentage through sensory perceptions:

30% is retained by seeing only

11% is retained by hearing only

50% is retained by seeing and hearing

70% is retained by seeding, hearing and doing

90% is retained by seeing, hearing, verbalizing and doing.

 

Ann-Margreth Frei has published a very popular and wonderful 3-volume set on ice skating instruction. Check it out in the Ice Skating World Pro Shop.

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Centering Spins


by Janet Champion

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
May / June 1996 – p. 12.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

Many skaters come to me for spin lessons and the first thing they usually ask is for me to invent some interesting new positions that are fun to do. Although this should be a goal for skaters, first, all the regular position spins must be controlled and centered. The most important part of a spin is the centering. Even when a skater has the ability to spin fast and in aesthetically pleasing positions all is lost if the centering is not achieved. When a skater is spinning on loops instead of circles even the most beautifully positioned spin will lose balance.

The basic building blocks of centering spins can be learned with the one foot spin and scratch spin. A spin requires the conversion of forward momentum into rotational force. To achieve this the entry edge of a spin must be a curve whose diameter diminishes as it approaches the three turn. Examining the print on the ice can be a major help to clue the teacher in on mistakes and to assist the student in understanding good spin technique. Consider this spin entry print on ice: (See Illustration). The following is a list of some common mistakes which can cause a spin to travel: Skating to a shallow entry edge, skating an entry edge that does not progressively diminish in diameter as it approaches the three turn, allowing the free leg to swing around before the point of the three turn, starting to spin before the entry edge has diminished sufficiently.

Centering Spins

Some entry edge techniques that assist in centering spins are:

With the body weight over the skating side lean into the entry edge circle (this helps to make the edge a diminishing curve). Skating a strong deep entry edge with the free leg stretched and held firmly behind until the point of the three turn. The skating knee should stay bent until at least one full turn of the spin (when the knee straightens to soon or too suddenly balance and centering is disturbed). The skating arm leads into the spin and gradually reaches strongly back at the point of the three turn. In the scratch spin the arms and free leg should reach their forward position simultaneously.

After skating into the scratch spin many things can be done to center a spin: keep the shoulders level and down with the arms rounded slightly forward of the body. The hips should be level and square. The free leg should be at a90 degree angle to the body, not lower. After hooking the spin wait until the arms and free leg have reached their forward position.

Try to feel the skating foot making smooth, even, little circles. Relax and allow centrifugal force to pull out on arms and free leg. Now you are centered and ready to accelerate.

As with jumping, good spins require a careful preparation and entry. Master the fundamentals first and with adequate flexibility many interesting positions can be achieved.

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Common Sense and Fun Approaches to Teaching Basic Skills

by Rebecca Nagle

Snowplow 1, 2 & 3 or learn-to-skaters can be very playful with a creative coaching mind. As we all know, attention spans are very short and the best solution is to keep their feet moving and their minds off how tired they are becoming. Games such as Hokey Pokey incorporating snowplows and two foot hops are terrific exercises.

Group skating lessonsGather your group in a circle and begin singing “you push your right foot in, you push your right foot out…”, and let them shake their foot all about; end the verse with a two foot hop and you’re on to the other side! A full snowplow into the circle and back skating out completes the last verse of the song and you’ve just started developing their balance and snowplows as well as a lasting desire to come again next week.

Four and five year olds love to pretend so introduce silly ideas. Pretending to have animal parades by using forward and backward swizzles along with one foot glides keeps the class moving and imaginative. Koosh balls are a great trick for the extremely timid two, three or four year old skater. Toss the soft waterproof balls out of their reach and your little skaters will have fun trying to bend down and scoop them up. This is a great way to give your beginner students the confidence and falling practice they need.

Kids love stickers. Besides being used as a reward method, they can be used to demonstrate many a point to a basic skills skater. Place a sticker on the inside of their skate (usually the inside toe area) and tell them to squeeze the sticker when trying two foot glides (forward or backward). This works well with scullies also.

Other game suggestions that work well on the ice are Red Light, Green Light for forward or backward snowplows; Simon Says or singing “If you’re happy and you know it do a…” incorporating any basic skills move being learned. Remember, little people want to have fun yet need to learn.

Basic 1-6 levels or the non-jumpers, depending on your program structure, are the levels where skaters learn their basic turns, edges and crossovers-the vitals of skating! How to accomplish such a task and stay interesting requires a technically creative mind over silliness. Permanent markers, skateguards and the boards can be tools used to demonstrate.

Drawing with waterproof markers on the ice gives the children a very descript visual. A rocking horse is challenging to trace. Three or four small circles drawn for a group of ten gives the skaters the spacing they need (2-3 per circle) to practice an outside/inside edge, three turns or Mohawks.

While attempting backward one foot glides hold a skateguard in front of the torso in two hands. Have the skater think of bringing their knee up to the guard from the two foot glide position.

Another exercise that the kids enjoy is balancing a pencil or water bottle on your clipboard. Use this trick for outer swing rolls, forward edges or one foot glides. See who can go the farthest down the ice without spilling!

The boards are a terrific way to teach the bend and stretch feel of pumps. For example, have the group line up with their right side against the boards. Press right hip and ankle against the boards. Stretch right hand back and left in front. Have the Beginner skater bend their right knee over their skate while pressing their hip and ankle against the boards. Extend the left leg out to the side while bending. Repeat several times and then transfer to a circle. This should keep the skaters from doing scullies and produce real pumps instead.

Relay races incorporating two foot turns, hockey stops, t-stops, one foot glides, Mohawks and slaloms are a great way to end a group and develop strong skating.

Low level freestylers ready for spins and jumps can either be over anxious or timid in the beginning. Some commence Moves in the Field at this time and some a basic figure program. There are many creative teaching tricks at this level that can keep skating fun.

Balancing quarters on top of the hands, placing a mitten on top of the head or stickers on the palms of the hands help control those fly away arms or the leaning over of the upper torso.

Stickers again can be used for scratch spins. Place a sticker on the outer heel of the free toot in the spin. When bringing the free foot across on the scratch spin have the skater place the sticker on the outside part of the knee of the spinning leg and slide the sticker down the outside of the leg to the tight crossed position.

Airturns on the ice right from the start of the waltz jump or a half flip jump is a terrific way to get kids to lose their fear of leaving the ice (jumping). Start with simply rising up to the toes and down in conjunction with the proper arm positions. Have the group pair up and face each other while doing this. Then do a few two foot jumps with no turns. As the comfort and ability level increases so should the airturn. Begin to do a 1/2 turn with 8 repetitions and so on. A group of ten can accomplish this exercise easily.

When introducing a sit spin have each skater put a glove/mitten in the hand of the free side of the spin. After entry the skater will take the glove and place it between their knees and have the arms extend to the sides. They need to spin three times around holding the glove with their knees. They will be in a semi-sit position. This exercise is simply to have the skater understand the closing of the inner thighs and to not lean way over with their back in the spin. It is a very challenging exercise but once again great for a group of ten skaters learning sit spins.

Music, as we know, is very much a part of skating. Singing, humming or playing a variety of music can help develop rhythms or flow at this level. Back edges or the waltz eight to waltz music slows the child down and aids in the counting. Split jumps or flips to rap gets them motivated to jump high! Seasonal music once in a while, such as a scary tape at Halloween or holiday music, can uplift the attitude of a group class lesson.

At low level freestyle introduce the stopwatch which will be ever so present in their skating career. Time the skater going into their waltz-toe loop jump and have them beat their time the next skate around.

The advanced groups have fun with an introduction to hydro-blading. Use this to strengthen their muscles for the up and down motion of a sit spin or develop a better understanding of lean into the circle for crossovers, spirals or the tightening of an outer edge into a spin. Have the group challenge each other to see who can hydro blade the longest.

For additional ideas refer to the Creative Teaching Section in the PSA Coaches Manual.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
May / June 1997 – pp. 13 – 14.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

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Obtain a new professional position with help from PSA Coaches Manual

by Shirley Carlson Hughes (New Age Professional Skater (NAPS) Chairman – 1996)

Updating the PSA Coaches Manual has proven to be a formidable, sometimes seemingly impossible task! However, it will be available soon and I believe it will be useful to coaches at all levels. It will have many new features including oft-ice conditioning approaches and tests to evaluate progress. It will have an easy to use description of USFSA required free style tests and moves in the field with diagrams, required elements and teaching tips on one page. Elite professionals have agreed to provide “Masters Tips” in various sections. What follows is an excerpt from the manual which deals with the challenge of finding a new professional position.

JOB SEARCH

Establishing Personal Goals

It is imperative to begin the process of finding the right job by developing a clear understanding of what you want from the job. No two people have exactly the same objectives for the professional aspect of their lives and defining and prioritizing your own goals is a critical first step in a successful job search. There are many ways to approach this process but consider writing down your goals and discussing them with close friends or associates whose opinion you respect. Examples of questions which you may wish to consider while establishing these goals include the following:

What aspect of teaching interests you? Recreational/group lessons or competitive skaters? How much time are you prepared to spend? Do you want a full or pant-time job? Will you work early mornings? Evenings? Weekends? Will you relocate? Do you have long term goals include running a skating program or skating rink? Do you wish to advance to elite coaching? Are you prepared to attend seminars, clinics and explore other career enhancing opportunities? Would you be prepared to team teach?

Once established and prioritized, these personal goals will be an important tool in shaping your résumé, focusing your search for opportunities and in preparing for interviews.

Writing a Resume

The French word résumé means summary and refers to a fact sheet that identifies, describes and lists the qualifications of a person in terms of experience and education. While you will never obtain a position solely on a resume, it may well be the key to obtaining an interview and eventually the job. Your résumé should be well-organized, concise, clearly formatted and comprehensive. There are books available to help you develop a resume, either at most bookstores or in a library. Many computer programs enable you to format a resume. After preparing a résumé, consider asking friends or associates to review and comment on it. There are also résumé services available if you would feel comfortable with professional assistance. Résumés are not normally returned so ensure you keep the original. Take the time to have high quality copies made – remember, first impressions are important.

Arrange your résumé so that your most impressive qualifications appear first. Never overstate your experience or qualifications. List job experience and education in reverse chronological order. You may wish to include a list of references or reference letters with the résumé or, at a minimum, offer references if requested. Your résumé would normally include the following types of information:

  • Name, address, telephone number
  • Ratings (as applicable)
  • Highest tests passed (USFSA, ISI, ISU, other)
  • Competitive experience with highest title first (list only the most important)
  • Amateur training, clinics (including when, where, with whom)
  • Amateur or professional shows and exhibitions
  • Coaching experience (highest level skater you have coached)
  • Coaching education (seminars, coaches clinics, classroom, student-teacher)
  • Other education (college, high school, music, dance)
  • Outside interests
  • Personal (married, children)

When your résumé is prepared you must decide where to send it. Seek the help of friends and associates. Be sure that it reaches the hands of someone who is in a position to offer a job. Some of the sources that you should consider in determining where to

send the résumé include local ice rinks, lists of clubs in the USFSA Rulebook, lists of rinks in ISI Directory, advertisements in Skating, The Professional Skater and other publications. There is also a Job Placement Directory in the PSA Office.

Use a brief cover letter with each résumé. This is your chance to personalize and focus your communication regarding a specific opportunity. Note your most relevant qualifications, and explain your interest in the position.

Remember, the résumé will always be an important tool in furthering your career. Even after you have the job, keep your résumé up to date. Consider revising it every six months. It helps you be prepared for the next opportunity and also gives you a benchmark to ask what you have done to increase your experience and nurture your professional growth.

Interviewing Effectively 

Once you have been contacted and invited to an interview begin by reviewing your résumé and list all the questions which you might be asked. Find out as much as you can about the position and the person(s) who may be interviewing you. Look your best, be on time, be concise, emphasize your best points, relax! Some of the questions which you might expect to be asked include: How many years have you been skating? Why do you want to teach? What are your schedule restrictions? What level of teaching experience do you have?
Why did you leave your previous job? Will you bring your own students?
What levels will you teach (adults, tots, etc.)? Are you prepared to make a commitment to stay for a specified period? Do you intend to continue your professional education?
Will you participate in community events, advertising, etc.?

It is important that you interact with your interviewer in a proactive manner. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the job being offered. You should prepare a list of questions which you want to ask during the interview. The following list may provide some examples.

  • Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • If employee: What would be the base salary? How often would you be paid? Would taxes be withheld?
  • If contractor: What would be your commission and how would you be paid?
  • Who will be your direct supervisor (rink manager, skating director, club)?
  • What are the payment policies for private lessons, group lessons?
  • What are commissions? How much is paid? How often are they paid? When are they due? On which lessons?
  • Is liability insurance required? Provided? How is it obtained? What kind? What level? What is the cost? (Liability insurance is available through the PSA).
  • Are you required to join the PSA, ISI or both?
  • Will you be expected to be rated by the PSA?
  • What are the policies with regard to setting fees for private lessons?
  • What is the policy with regard to teaching at other rinks? Are there any limitations or restrictions?
  • Are there rink/club policies regarding private lessons? Can you teach anyone who asks?
  • Are there set policies/formats for group lessons? Are there tests at the end of each set? USFSA, ISI or other?
  • Will you be asked to provide administrative support? How much? Are you paid?
  • Will you be expected to cover certain sessions as the pro on duty?
  • Will you be expected to give tests, judge basic skills competitions, ISI competitions?
  • Will you be expected to volunteer time for stroking clinics, or club/rink shows?
  • Is there a pro room? Is there a dress code?

You may be hired at the interview but more likely that you will be told that you will be called. Do not hesitate to call back and reemphasize your interest in the position if you have not had any follow up within a week or so. On the other hand, inform your potential employer in a timely manner if you decide you do not want the job or have accepted another opportunity.

First Impressions

After you get the job you need to make special preparations for the first few days. It really is true that first impressions last a long time and there are things that you can do to ensure that the first impressions you make are good ones:

  • Be on time and look professional. Many people at the rink will see you before they meet you. Present a good image to everyone.
  • Work hard at meeting the many groups at a typical ice rink including the other pros, management, ice maintenance staff, office staff, and skate shop staff. Remember names, write them down if that helps.
  • Familiarize yourself with the entire rink schedule, take a brochure home and study it. Know the sessions and the prices, even for those areas which you do not teach.
  • Learn the rules of the rink; what is permitted on public sessions, who you can instruct and at what level. Determine all the details of group lessons, including levels, prices, group sizes, etc.
  • Identify the clubs at your rink and when their sessions meet. Do you need special permission to teach on these sessions? Who can authorize you?
  • Find out when and if tests are given, and the name and phone number of the test chairman.

You are not expected to know everything when you first arrive. It’s the best time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your situation. Make it an exciting, challenging experience – not a threatening one.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
February / March 1996 – pp. 27 – 28.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

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Sports Ethics

by Susan L. Ward

Ethics is a complex philosophical subject because it involves the study of morality and human values. Defining values in terms of sports participation is a difficult task which all coaches must address. What is good? How do we judge what is good? In order to answer these essential questions, we utilize our standards, principles and belief systems. We may not all subscribe to the same values but we can simplify our ethical concerns when we examine issues in terms of minimizing harm and maximizing benefit. When we look at the paradigm of risk management, we can easily understand what “harm” means. Teachers do not cause harm nor do they risk harm to their students. On the positive side of the scale, teachers prevent harm and promote their students’ well being. In his book The Inner Athlete, Dan Millman says, “Second only to parents, teachers of movement can have a profound influence on a student’s self-concept and outlook on life.”

Many coaches teach the way parents learn to be parents: one generation repeating the best and worst of the last generation. It is not enough to know the subject matter and the methodology. It is necessary to have a philosophy, a code. Ask yourself: Why skate? Not everyone can win and we have all seen the importance of winning lead to cheating, soliciting, taking “cheap shots” and other unethical behavior on the part of athletes and coaches. But if winning is not the only thing, what other positive goals you can instill in skaters? If your teaching methods focus on concepts such as character development, sportsmanship, the cultivation of discipline, teamwork, fair play and self-motivation, you know the positive side of the scale: maximizing benefit. Skating is a sport that children cannot pursue without the support of their parents. Parents are legally, financially and morally responsible for their children. They are consumers and they do have rights. Most parents are primarily motivated by what they perceive is best for their child. Parents arrive knowing little if anything about skating but they can certainly be ambitious and competitive for their children. It is unwise to place the parents of your skater in an adversarial role. When a teacher or coach competes with a parent for control of a child, it is a Lose/Lose proposition. Besides, control is never a healthy or realistic goal.

Instead, a coach’s honest ability to communicate with both skater and parent is paramount. Consider the parent as your ally in the development of a well-balanced skater. An educated parent is the best advocate for a young athlete. The principles ‘to keep in mind are not new ones: teach with dignity, equality, privacy, loyalty, commitment, honesty and reliability. Your reputation will grow and the parents of your skaters will respect the work you are doing with their children.

Consider one parent’s perspective on reasonable expectations which parents place on coaches. Ann Masten, an associate professor of Child Psychology at the University of Minnesota and mother of two skaters, wrote the following list, previously published in Focus for parents, the newsletter of the USFSA’s Parents Committee:

What I Expect of My Child’s Coach*

  • - To teach my child this sport to the best of your ability.
  • - To promote the development of my child as a whole person, as well as an athlete.
  • - To respect my child and act in my child’s best interests.
  • - To be aware that you are one of the most important people in my child’s life, and to act accordingly.
  • - To honor the confidences of my child, except when it would endanger my child to do so.
  • - To inform me as soon as possible of any serious problems or concerns about my child or about my parenting as regards my child’s skating.
  • - To clearly communicate your expectations of me in this enterprise.
  • - To keep me informed on a regular basis (such as monthly) of my child’s general progress and to promptly address the questions or concerns that I might raise.
  • - To bill me accurately and with timeliness.

Reprinted with permission of U5F5A’s Focus for parents.

Coaches who deal with parents fairly enhance their own reputation in the arena. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers are all too prone to discuss their problems in the rink. Bad news is often embellished and all rink gossip is damaging. Minimize harm, encourage positive public relations by your own example. Keep the parent-coach-athlete dialogue in confidence.

The primary step in establishing healthy community relations starts with solid credentials. Most people are familiar with state education requirements in their schools. They know what certification signifies. In order to teach one must have learned the subject (skating technique) and how to present knowledge (methodology). Today coaches study physiology and psychology. Be prepared, continue your education and accept your ability as a teacher. Are you a good “kindergarten” teacher? Are you qualified and confident to teach the next grade? Do you realize that at the “end” of the year your child will be promoted? Do you hold back or let go? Are you willing to send the student on the next leg of the journey with your blessing even if you can’t go along?

Most importantly, the best coaches stop to consider their own motivations for coaching and are great motivators of their students. They are consistent in their approach and expectations of their students. They give all skaters a chance to become their personal best and avoid forming snap judgments or permanent opinions of skaters. They know that skaters will mature. No one can truly predict who has the most promise. Coach-motivators know that all people are different and have different styles and rates of learning. The best coaches are never too busy to listen. They keep confidences and promises.

The greatest coaches know that the best motivator is love; love of the sport itself, love of the process and love of teaching. All students benefit from the principles which these coach-motivators impart as part of the process. Everyone who walks into the arena recognizes them, not from their personal accolades, or skating achievements but by the accomplishments and attitudes of their students and the trust which parents place in them. They are real masters who teach with a commitment to excellence.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
January / February 1997 – pp. 16, 29.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

For more articles for skating parents, visit http://www.iceskatingworld.com/parents/letters_articles/index.html

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