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Great Expectations by: Annette T. Thomas

Updated: Jul 10


Remember when you were in school and, in certain subjects anyway, you wondered “How on earth does this apply to my life?” or “Why do I have to learn this?” How many teachers told you that learning math would help you balance your checkbook (and then actually show you how that works), or how learning to read music can actually help you understand math? Practical information which has immediate real life application is something almost every student enjoys and excels at more than “theory” - as in what educators think of as “what they’ll need in the future” (…when they’ve forgotten it by that point as it wasn’t of interest).


This is how I view the expectations of some coaches who send their skaters off to various off-ice classes with the expectation that those other teachers will “fix” the deficiency and the skater will immediately know how to apply what they learn to skating, so that the coach can get on with their work. Expectations, especially assumptive ones, can often lead to frustration on the parts of all involved: the coach who assumes things will be taken care of; the skater who believes this other activity will somehow “magically” work; and the parent who is shelling out the funds in hopes of the desired results.


Training isn’t like taking a pill and (as in the Matrix) you are instantly able to integrate and apply the knowledge received – we all know it’s a gradual process…but do we really? Expecting another teacher to teach what you want them to teach, in the same manner you teach it, and expecting the skater to make those (actually giant leaps of) physical, intellectual and intuitive connection is in most cases extremely unrealistic. The ability to immediately apply instruction only comes from making the material viable “in the moment”. We as teachers have to make that connection for them at the most opportune time – connecting the dots as it were through cuing in the moment, connecting physically and verbally between off and on-ice application. otherwise, it becomes just another meaningless activity. One you might even claim “isn’t working”.


Remedies:


· Communicate regularly with the off-ice instructor as to your expectations and attend at least one of their classes to see if their teaching style/methods are what you’re looking for for your student. Neither your skater or their parents can decide this – only you have the expertise to know what you are looking for.

· Check in with your skater on a regular basis as to what they are learning in their off-ice classes and work at least a few minutes each session on the principles they’ve been practicing in that class. This is the ONLY way to make the off to on ice connection! It takes a huge amount of both intelligence and intuition to be able to apply different disciplines to any real effect.

· Create a chart (see below) and/or start a notebook to connect off to on ice exercises and their application so that you, the other teacher and the student continue TOGETHER to improve your skaters’ abilities.

· When you as the coach are actively involved in the ENTIRE training process so will your skaters and their parents – commitment to the entire process begins with the coach and the learning atmosphere they create. Reinforcing immediate application in what they learn off-ice can become part of a “unified method” or process that not only encourages learning but speeds up that process of meeting your expectations.




Skater's Name

Strength training/Plyometrics

Ballet/dance/pilates

On-ice application (technique/element)


Care to share your thoughts and experiences? Please feel free to comment!


Copyright 2022 by Annette T. Thomas Ballet for Figure Skaters and Prime Radiant Press LLC. All rights reserved.

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