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Effective Coaching

by Marilyn Norcross
(Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programing )

I believe coaches are some of the most important people in the world. They are our leaders and are in a position to touch many people’s lives.

The word teacher has its roots in the Latin word meaning ‘to lead” or to “draw out”. Good teachers draw out the best in every student. Coaches and parents who build their children’s strength find that they grow in responsibility almost daily.

Children become what they think you think of them. It is the attitude of the coaches that can make a difference and it is pleasure and fun in learning that equals improvement.

A coach is a role model who can encourage and support skaters into succeeding by forever saying “You can do it” convincing them there isn’t anything they can’t do! If a child senses a coach doesn’t care then the child doesn’t care. When a coach focuses on what is good and what works, their skater is in a good frame of mind that keeps them receptive to problem solving.

It is important to understand the source of pain or pleasure. Our self-esteem is tied to our ability to feel that we’re in control of the events in our environment. It is imperative that simple and effective rules are established and are communicated to skaters and parents.

One thing all good competitive coaches have in common is that they set high standards for themselves and their skaters and do not settle for less. They are committed to living, and being more, by tapping into their God given power thereby teaching children to do the same and to take responsibility for their own lives.

Effective coaching centers around love: love that doesn’t tolerate disrespect but also love that is powerful enough to allow kids to make mistakes. Don’t ever be afraid of making mistakes. If you can’t make mistakes, you can’t make anything. Learn from them and problem solve. This is a very important issue for enhancing self confidence, rapid learning and high self-esteem.

In order to be more successful in dealing with negative and limiting behavior, you must use your ability to influence other people. How? Successful people create rapport and rapport creates trust. When you use these skills, you begin building bridges to understanding others better.

People like people who are like themselves. We want to commune with people who are like us, who see the world in the same way as we do, who have similar likes and dislikes. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen all the time. This is where rapport is absolutely imperative.

I believe coaches are some of the most important people in the world. They are our leaders and are in a position to touch many people’s lives.

When a person likes you, they tend to want to agree with you. Children have minds of their own and have a right to exert their independence and do their own thinking. If we want to pass our values onto them, we must present these values in a way that our skaters can accept them, by our actions and our words. They won’t accept what we try to drive into their heads with lecturing and yelling.

Rapport Tips:

Before getting angry or getting sucked into their problem, remember it’s their problem. Don’t take it on!

Try the following:

1) Empathy messages. Let them know you care, so they trust you. Listen with understanding, gathering information and identify the child’s feelings.

2) Work out new courses of action: The secret to handling whining, disrespectful and negative behavior is to let children know that negative behavior is unacceptable. They will get no results until their behavior changes. Without anger in your voice, firmly give the child multiple choices. This gives them the ability to problem solve and take responsibility for their actions. Have them talk in terms of what they do want. The more specific they can be, the better. A good question from coach to skater is ,if you don’t want that, what do you want?

Example:

A) When you decide to talk with respect, I will be glad to listen to you. If their behavior changes great, if not:

  • 1) Would you like to go home, go into the other room or take your skates off?
  • 2) Come back when you have a better attitude and make a list of desired qualities in the person you want to be (calm, confident, enthusiastic).

B) When the child changes behavior let them know you care and love them and believe that they’re able to change. Let them know you are on their side and you will correct and disagree with them some of the time because you care so much and don’t want them to settle for less than they can be. Continue to build on this new desired self image of the skater and praise little changes.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
September / October 1996 – pp. 11 – 12.
©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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Filed under Figure Skating Education, Figure Skating Parents, Ice Skating Coaching, IceSkatingWorld.com, Coaches Corner

Change in the Life of a Figure Skater

By Katherine Ruch

No matter how you slice it, switching coaches is really hard. Don’t get me wrong, I know that change is part of life. I’m almost positive that everyone’s parents have always preached that motto since the beginning of time. I’m pretty positive that people were talking about the fact that change is a part of life before ice skating was ever invented.

Over the course of the eight-plus years that I have been skating, I have taken lessons from a slew of coaches. I am actually struggling to count the number in my head as we speak. I believe the number is approaching ten at this point which I know sounds like a lot. The reason I have had so many coaches you may ask? Before you jump to any conclusions, I promise I’m not THAT hard to work with. The real answer in a single word is CHANGE. During the time that I have been skating, I have graduated high school, moved to a different state for college, started coaching students myself, graduated college, moved back to my home state, etc. The list goes on because a lot can happen in eight years! Coaches I have worked with have also moved, gotten married, as well as both moved after getting married.

I know that changing coaches can be a great decision but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It is a decision that can get a skater out of whatever rut they may be in, help them to learn more challenging skills like that ever elusive Axel or simply propel their skating to new heights in all kinds of ways. For me, I’ve never really had to make the decision to make a change. Change it seems has often forced my hand.

As someone who started skating during High School, I have sometimes been fairly close in age to the people I have taken lessons from which has certainly made for an interesting dynamic. In the past I have had a coach who ended up becoming a friend, another was a friend who I ended up taking lessons from later and yet another who was my coach but ultimately became both a friend and a mentor over the course of time. Recently that coach has moved to a different state and I find myself back at the drawing board once more. She was someone who I knew would help me be a better skater, a better coach and ultimately a better person. How do you fill the void of someone who helped to guide you for over five years? I almost feel as if my left arm is missing.

While I wait for the rink to reopen, it’s down to thirteen days but clearly I’m not counting, I have some decisions to make. What is it that I’m looking for in a coach and are my expectations absurdly unrealistic? Have I been looking for the nonexistent “perfect” coach when I should have just been looking for the person who I feel like I can learn the most from? I have often heard the quote “When one door closes, another opens.” It would be futile to remain in the past and spend time focusing on what I have lost when I can instead spend time focusing on the opportunities that are coming. Confucius did say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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Ask the Skating Pro: What is the difference between a Mohawk and a Choctaw?

Q. What is the difference between a Mohawk and a Choctaw?

A. When doing a Mohawk you remain on the same edge after the change of feet and continue to travel on the same circle after the change. When doing a Choctaw you change edge when changing feet. For example, if you go into the turn on the outside edge, you exit on the inside edge, and change lobe or circle when turning.

IceSkatingWorld.com

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Summer and the Closing of an Ice Rink

By Katherine Ruch

I would be the first to admit that I have a love hate relationship with ice skating. It really seems to depend on the time of year. Summer means a bunch of different things to different people. Most associate the summer with the kids being out of school, family vacations and rising temperatures. Lots of people enjoy the slower pace of summer while others are counting down the days till the kids go back to school so that things can go back to life as “usual.” I hate to admit it, but I am one of those people. It’s not that I have anything against summer, it really just says more about the fact that my life pretty much revolves around ice skating.

 

The concept of summer has changed a great deal for me since I was a kid. I used to long for the day when I could have a couple months off without having to worry about school. I could do all the things I dreamed of doing and had what seemed like endless stretches of time to fit it all in. Ever since I became involved with ice skating, I have begun to associate the climbing temperatures with the annual season closing of the rink.

 

Everyone knows that you always want what you can’t have. I find that a great majority of my time during the summer is taken up by skating and yes I know that sounds hypocritical since I just mentioned the fact that the rink is closed. While I’m not spending hours on the ice each day during the summer months, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about skating almost all of the time, even while I’m asleep.

 

While I am working at that pesky part time job, I can also be found figuring out the logistics of what it looks like to keep skating during the summer. The questions that often swirl in my head involve: “where to go skating next and when? Who can I talk into taking a few lessons during the summer? Are there any conferences, seminars and competitions that I want to go to either for my own skating or to help with my coaching endeavors?” The most looming question of all has been “what possessed me to want to enter a competition during the off season and how am I ever going to get in enough practice time?”

 

For those of you whose rinks don’t close during the summer, consider yourself very lucky. It is quite common when the pools open for ice rinks to just close up shop for awhile. Most don’t want to go skating when they can go to the pool. If your rink is open, try to get in as much practice time as you can this summer. If your rink is not open, don’t let that discourage you. If you are a skater, talk to the other skaters or your coach about carpooling somewhere to get some ice time in. If you are a coach, round up those students and take trips to other rinks. As somebody who has skated at lots of other rinks over a number of years, it is not nearly as scary as it may seem to go skate somewhere else for a couple of hours. While each rink has its own set of unwritten rules, one thing holds true and that is that there are people everywhere who love skating. That is something that will hopefully never change!

 

@IceSkatingWorld

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How old should my child be to start ice skating?

by Michelle Wilkin

Age four is best to start. There are some children who are ready at 3 years old. Consider the following criteria:

Attention Span – most group classes will last 30 minutes.

Separation from parent – Separation anxiety is still developmentally appropriate until approximately age four. If your child can be comfortable accepting instructions from another adult, then you should be fine.

Balance – both in skates and in regular shoes.

My recommendation is to start with your child walking in skates on the floor only. If this goes well, then your child is physically ready. Check with your local ice rink for age requirements. Many rinks will not accept children for group classes who are under 4 years of age. If your child is eager and can meet the basic criteria before he is 4 years old, you may consider private lessons.

They are more flexible with the length of lesson and can adapt to the age of the child. To ensure quality instruction, make sure to ask for a Professional Skater’s Association (PSA) rated instructor.

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

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5 Ways to Make Better Progress this Season

by Marta Nilsen, PSA Master-rated coach

Here are five steps for improving your figure skating and making better progress during the upcoming season.

1) Add another day of skating to your week.

Adding another day of skating per week can speed up your progress dramatically. If you can’t add another day, the next best thing would be to add two more hours per week of skating time. Instead of skating one hour per day for two days per week, instead skate two hours per day, two days per week.

2) Take a ballet class at least one day per week.

Ballet increases flexibility, strengthens body alignment and placement, and teaches proper jumping technique. This is a great way to get that super spiral or increase your jump height.

3) Participate in off-ice classes at least one time per week.

Off-ice class is not just another workout. You will be practicing simulating skills that are done on the ice. Practicing off ice allows you to feel, see and understand the basic positions that your body must attain during skating moves. You will also learn exercises and stretches that can do at home.

4) Go to at least three competitions away from your home rink this season.

Competitions push you to increase your skill level faster than any other method of training. Striving to do your best in a competition helps you to reach the goals that you set for your skating.

5) Set goals.

You need a plan for where you are going and a process for how to get there. You decide where you would like to be, which you discuss with your coach, and then he or she makes a plan to help you reach it. All successful people set goals to help them reach their greatest potential.

Best of luck this ice skating season!

www.iceskatingworld.com

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You CAN Learn to Ice Skate

by Jassen Bowman

Having been raised in the era of figure skating superstars like Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, and Todd Eldridge, I have been fascinated by this beautiful display of athletic prowess for nearly two decades. But, like many things in life, there comes a point where the fascination slips into a desire to do something more than just sit on the couch and watch these happenings on the moving picture box.

Being 30 years old and 50 pounds overweight, part of my brain was telling myself I was absolutely, positively nuts to even be thinking about doing this. Even that first time I stepped onto the ice, I was still telling myself that I was about to be involved in a major medical emergency involving multiple broken bones. Three months later, I am not only injury free, but actually making substantial progress.

So, how does one go about learning how to skate? Like anything else, you have to do your homework. It all begins with identifying a facility in your area that even has a sheet of ice. Most major metropolitan areas of the United States, Canada, and Europe have ice facilities of one form or another. Some ice rinks consist only of frozen lakes, while others offer multiple ice rinks within one large building, complete with locker rooms, concession stands, skate rental, and more. Finding a facility near you begins with a simple Google search or a trip through the phone book.

After identifying an appropriate facility, you must then actually contact the ice rink and inquire as to the availability of group classes or private instruction. Most ice rinks offer public skate sessions during which you can obtain one-on-one instruction from a member of the site staff. Many facilities in America also participate in either the U.S. Figure Skating Association or the Ice Skating Institute basic skating skills programs, which provide a structured course of instruction in either a group format or on an individual basis.

Most people will start with group lessons. The advantage of joining a class is that there is an organized curriculum to the entire process of learning how to ice skate, along with being with a group of people of your own skill level. The cost for group lessons is also significantly less than private instruction. It is common for classes to meet twice per week for about four to six weeks. These types of classes vary in cost depending on where you’re geographically located, but in the United States expect to pay between $60 and $100 for such a class. In addition, you will also likely have to rent skates from the facility you are taking lessons at. However, skate rental is generally very inexpensive, at only a few dollars per session.

If you’re looking to test the waters before jumping into a class, or simply desire the undivided attention of an instructor, then private lessons are a worthwhile option to consider. Meeting once or twice with a private instructor is a great way to get started, especially to help you determine whether or not ice skating is something that you will really enjoy and want to stick with as a hobby. Following private instruction with group classes can give you a head start on learning how to ice skate, especially if you take a private lesson on occasion during the course of being in a class. Private instruction is definitely more costly, but pays for itself in terms of the progress that you can make in your skating skills compared to a group environment. Expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $100 per hour for private instruction, with most lessons lasting about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your goals and pace.

Personally, my intention was to meet twice, and only twice, with a private instructor, and then maybe take a class, with the thought that doing that much would get the desire to skate out of my system. My primary interest in learning to skate was to have a wee bit of a clue about what it’s like to be on the ice, since I had already made the decision that the only way I could ever actively participate in the sport of figure skating was to be a judge. However, after those two private lessons, I was hooked on skating itself, and now my weekly lessons are a line item in my personal budget.

Ice skating is an addictive form of recreation. Learning to ice skate will provide you with a great sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Whether your interest is purely recreational in nature, or you have an interest in any of the related disciplines such as hockey, ice dancing, or figure skating, ice skating will provide you with a sense of pure elation, and will always provide you with additional challenges should you wish to explore them.

In my next article, I will offer insight into selecting an instructor for private coaching. This relationship is such an important one that it deserves careful consideration. I consider myself extremely fortunate that the “next available instructor” to whom I was assigned is such a talented coach and a good personality fit. However, one should not rely on blind luck or good fortune alone when picking an instructor, so be looking for that article coming soon.

Jassen Bowman is a tax consultant by profession, helping taxpayers obtain the tax relief to which they are legally entitled. Outside of work, his lifelong interest in the sport of figure skating has recently blossomed into an intense drive to learn to ice skate He can be found practicing three or four times per week at his local ice centre.

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