On Ice: Back To Basics
This weekend coaches from around the world have come together in Winnipeg to develop different aspects of their coaching practices at the National Coaches Conference. While reading about this conference, one feature in particular caught my attention - two workshops with a heavy focus on basic skating skills. One is titled “Quality Basics: Essential Foundation” and the other “Taking Foundational Skills To The Next Level”. Both are being led by the one and only, Tracy Wilson.
I was interested in these specific seminars for two reasons: First, lately I’ve been repeatedly coming across various articles and instances about this foundational skating skills theme at different rinks and on social media. Second, over the past year, while coming to the realization that I wanted to be involved in the skating world again I have thought about the impact my training would have had with a greater focus on basic skills. I was late to start in the skating world, at age 12, relying on my gymnastics background to adapt on the ice. I think it may have enhanced my overall skating quite a bit to have spent more time on foundational edge work.
To give you a better idea, I’ve added the description of these workshops from skatecanada.ca here:
Quality Basics: Essential Foundation – Presented by Tracy Wilson Tracy’s workshop will cover a variety of skills, exercises and ideas to empower skaters. She will break skating down to its most basic skills and work through each exercise to gain a clear understanding of how one gets effortless speed, rides an edge without tension and transitions from one lobe to the next with ease. The basic skills are the essential elements of skating and once they are understood, the foundation of good technique can be established.
Taking Foundation Skills to the Next Level – Presented by Tracy Wilson As a follow up to Tracy’s workshop “Quality Basics: Essential Foundation”, the next step is to apply the basics to the next level to suit individual needs of skaters regardless if you are coaching a young hockey player, an adult skater, or the next Yuna Kim – the basics don’t change and they apply to everyone. Exercises will include Pilates on ice with stretch and strength exercises, range of motion and movement skills, turns and linking edge work.
More and more I’m seeing that having a regular basic skills practice, at every level, in a training routine can have a major influence on the control a skater carries in their performance. Just over a year ago I had the immense pleasure of creating an event for young competitive skaters in the Toronto community led by world-champion ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne. Shae-Lynn really emphasized the importance of getting comfortable with deep edge work in her training, not just as an ice-dancer, but also as a skater. She asked the skaters to work on various skills where they could really feel and ride their edges. That specific part of the experience stuck with me and since then I’ve been exploring my edges more every time I’m on the ice.
Currently, I’ve been working a lot on how to teach technique from Crystal, an amazing coach I’ve been learning from and assisting with at the Dubai Ice Rink Skating Academy. What I love is that she also values the element of good control in a skater. And good technique can only come with control –which comes from a good practice of foundational skating skills.
And speaking of going back to basics, on August 29th, figures will be making a comeback at the inaugural 2015 World Figure Skating Championship and Figure Festival in Lake Placid, New York (find out more here:figureskating.about.com). Figures were coming to end when I started skating. I remember it being quite a tedious challenge to trace the pattern carved on the ice with a scribe. For various reasons, the fact that many found it to be boring being one of them, figures didn’t stay in the sport. I do think, however, that there was something to them when it comes to holding long edges, concentration, and posture (where this might be lacking in todays skating will be saved for another blog post). Maybe this current emphasis on foundational skills is the beginning of a new wave in the evolution of figure skating.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please add your comments below.