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Author Topic: Flailing around between coaching sessions  (Read 759 times)

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Offline The Sacred Voice

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Flailing around between coaching sessions
« on: October 24, 2017, 05:31:52 AM »
Hey all, long time lurker, first time poster and all that.

I've been a free skater for about a year now and lately I've been skating three times a week to really improve my skills, but I'm struggling with motivation between coaching sessions sometimes, particularly if my coach or I have to miss a week. When I'm having a lesson then I'm really focused and I execute jumps and things much better, but as soon as I'm at the rink by myself just to practise then I do run through all the stuff I'm meant to be working on, but by the end of the session I'm kinda like "well, I gave that a go, but I don't see the point in giving it another go as I really need some feedback now that I've practised it, in order to know what to do better."

At that point I get kinda demotivated and am left sort of standing around not knowing what to do, which is a total waste of ice time. I find I lose a lot of energy around this point as well (maybe just need to eat something?) This feeling gets kinda worse the more sessions I go without a coach, so if my coach has to miss a week then I still go to practise but just barely do anything in the time I'm there - often end up just skating round casually a lot and chatting to my friends - I'm probably being a bit unfair to myself, I'm sure I do do some practice in those times but it just never feels as focused and productive as time with my coach.

I'm not saying my skills are flawless after a session or so of practise but I'm just not sure how to improve what I'm working on from a technical standpoint without having my coach tell me (even small things like proper arm positioning for entries to make things easier or etc.)

Any suggestions for motivation or a way I can structure myself to be a bit more productive?

Offline lutefisk

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2017, 08:40:06 AM »
I've found myself at the 30 minute mark of a two hour public feeling like there's a lot of time left and it will be a chore to skate the entire session.  At that point I switch away from working on hard for me to do stuff and start doing "feel good" skating elements like alternating forward swing rolls.  The sweep and graceful movement of feel good elements tend to remind me of why I like skating in the first place.  After a few laps of this type of perimeter skating I feel energized enough to get back to meaningful practice.  A little "recess" mixed in to a work session helps, at least it does for me.

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2017, 04:26:08 PM »
Sounds like you need to get more specific feedback from your coach on what you're doing wrong and how to fix the errors.  For example, let's say your coach has pointed out that your toepicks are scraping too much on your back crossovers.  So you now have the ability to identify the problem ("I hear scraping, so I'm doing something wrong.")  But have you also been given ways to correct the problem?  For example, your coach could then tell you that you need to focus on deep knee and ankle bend, keeping your weight farther back on the blades, and making sure your arms are over your circle (i.e., pull your leading arm and shoulder way back--that's your left if you're doing right-over-left clockwise back crossovers and your right if you're doing them the other way). 
In order to have effective practices on your own, you need to know how to identify issues and also what fixes to apply for each one.  If you need another set of eyes to identify an issue, try propping your phone up on the boards and take a video of your efforts to see what you're actually doing.  Sometimes I feel like my shoulders are level and boy, does that video evidence immediately prove me wrong!

Offline Jf12

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2017, 04:53:44 PM »
Some good suggestions here already, but have you tried taking shorter lessons more frequently than once a week?  Or, taking more lessons as semi privates with similar level students of your coach, which would make possible a short lesson as part of every time you practice?

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 04:22:30 AM »
It sounds like you do know what to practice, but you get bored with it after a while.  Suggestions:

Sign up for tests/competitions to put some pressure on yourself.

Take the skills you are practising and link them up in sequence.

Practice each skill focusing on each body part in sequence.  Include fingers.  It will take a while.

Learn new skills so you have more skills to practice. 

I think that it is necessary to be self-critical and a perfectionist to become a good skater.

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2017, 08:56:06 AM »
Sk8Dreams once posted a "Rule of 10" practice approach.  She suggested practicing whatever non-essential move or skill you wanted to acquire ten times at the end of every skating session.  It worked for me - I can do a decent Tango (aka: Show) stop as a result of diligent practicing.  Ditto for spreadeagles.

I tell my students that, when they don't know what to practice, they should do everything they know how to do 5 times.  So, 5 of each three-turn, 5 mohawks, 5 Waltz jumps, 5 Toe Loops, 5 Waltz-Toe combinations, etc.  I suggest they "mix it up" by doing a spin 5 times then switching to a jump for 5 attempts.  That way, they don't get too dizzy.  It's important to emphasize careful practicing or they'll just fling themselves into everything without checking to speed-practice.

For turns and edges, they combine different skills together.  Ex: In Pre-Freeskate, they have to do a Forward Inside Mohawk and a Back Outside Mohawk, so I suggest stringing them together with the BXO-Landing edge in between.  It just makes it more interesting to practice.

At the end of each lesson, I give my skaters 3-4 things to practice before the next lesson, which they write down in their books.  When we work on programs, I usually give them a stock practice sheet that lists all the things I want them to work on.  Once show/test/competition programs come into play, we tend to focus on the choreography and program skills during lessons.  Any free time is devoted to Moves patterns, so the freestyle skills are often forgotten.  The practice sheet gives the skater direction.
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Offline Meli

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 07:12:10 AM »
I have to skate on public often, so I have to alternate activities based on the craziness.  If I’m “filling the gaps” where I can’t jump or do bigger things, I’ll work on things that make me stronger, or prep for skills yet to come.  Right now it’s power pulls, dips, attempts at shoot the ducks, etc.  If I have more space, I experiment with sequences of elements (current faves are some footwork into a spread eagle into a spin, and spiral to spread eagle to back spiral—but that’s only for Freeskate sessions).

Offline mamabear

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2017, 02:11:03 PM »
My coach has been willing to have me record her doing what we've been learning.  Then I can watch that as I practice later.  Usually just watching it makes me think, "Oh that's right-I was supposed to make sure I was checking my shoulder, etc."  I haven't done this but I supposed I could also record myself and then see where I'm off based on watching her perform the skill.  But, really for me-just seeing it done correctly usually gives me something to work on.

We have another adult skater at the rink who video tapes herself every session.  She then watches that so she can see where her impressions are different from what's actually happening. 

Sometimes I can see that in the hockey glass as well.  I feel like my rear is about to touch the ice.  I look like I have managed to bend my knee an inch.

Offline Nate

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 10:43:04 AM »
I improvise choreo to music.  Try out new turn clusters.  Try new spin positions (my back is not forgiving me for those haircutters I did yesterday - #Retired from those, now).  I'll have skating friends record me trying my harder jumps when they take a quick minute at the boards (this tends to force me to try them).

If I really don't feel like doing stuff on the ice, then I get off.  I used to meander on the freestyle sessions, but I've pretty much squashed that.

I think that it is necessary to be self-critical and a perfectionist to become a good skater.
I agree with self-critical.  It's the only way to train outside of a lesson and actually make progress.  You have to be able to recognize your own flaws in performance... 

I whole-heartedly disagree that it's necessary to be a perfectionist.  I don't think that's really much of an asset, and there is a difference between striving for perfection (normal, and a motivating factor for maintaining high work ethic - the possibility of progress) and being a perfectionist.  The latter is [too] often not a good trait.

Coaches spend a lot of time telling skaters not to expect perfection, because often elements with glaring errors actually are elements with great improvements.  It's easier to maintain high work ethic and confidence by recognizing those improvements (a positive, self-critical thing to do) as progress, than by being "perfectionist" and mulling over the flaws as mistakes (a negative, self-critical thing to do).

Online Sibelius

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2017, 01:05:17 PM »
Thanks all, printing this out and sticking it in my little skater's notebook!

Offline Query

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2017, 11:53:32 AM »
Take the skills you are practicing and link them up in sequence.

ICA. Structure and self-discipline are very good for athletes in general. Think like the serious musicians who continue to warm-up on scales and arpeggios throughout their careers.

Most of the good athletes I have known do something along these lines. They create a regular sequence of all the major skills they have previously mastered, and use it as a preliminary warm-up every day they practice. Such a sequence might eventually build up to 15 - 30 minutes. Not only does it re-practice previously learned skills, which is required to keep them good, but it gets your heart and breath rates up, lubricates your joints, and makes you more alert and able to concentrate on new skills afterwards. As your joints become more flexible due to warm-up, deepen your knee bends and edges. After the warm-up sequence, THEN you work on the new skills for this week. (When they are mastered, after a few weeks or months, you append the new skills onto the regular practice routine, without dropping the old ones.) And at the end of your practice, when you are tired, do a regular sequence of stretches - though if your rink is too cold, and you never completely warm up, you may need to stretch off-ice.

Maybe you could ask your coach to help you create a warm-up practice sequence.

I took lessons from a Russian coach, and from his students, who were big on emphasizing certain extended practice sequences of basic edges, progressives, crossovers, and turns in a disciplined fashion, every day. I had a really great whitewater kayak instructor who much did the same thing, with basic stroke and maneuvering sequences, building up in difficulty, but never dropping the basic skills. (You can maybe drop the march and glide type of thing - because you will never use them again. But even basic stroking needs to stay good) I think these things helped their students a lot. For anything approaching mastery (which most of us never achieve, and I certainly won't - but to do as well as we can), it is just as important to practice old skills as new ones. In contrast, when you see someone who manages to get each skill working, then stops working on it, things tend to fall apart after a while.

If that makes any sense to you.

BTW, one odd thing is that when people see me practice those regular, disciplined sequences, they often think I must be a professional coach, and ask about lessons, though I am a long way from being a good figure skater. Maybe because if you practice something a lot, day in and day out, you do get reasonably good at those skills. Maybe because discipline and repetition are so obviously a hallmark of serious athletes.

My personal suggestion would also be that if you do get hungry mid-session, you might be better off eating about 30 minutes before the session, because chewing on and digesting things during the sessions takes away from the energy and attention needed to do other things. But do stay hydrated (drink) throughout the session. Such things vary from person to person, so don't necessarily take my feelings on these matters as optimal for you.

Talking casually to your friends might be better done during end-of-session stretches, or afterwards altogether, because it too steals attention from skills.


Offline Nate

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Re: Flailing around between coaching sessions
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2017, 05:36:59 AM »
Maybe you could ask your coach to help you create a warm-up practice sequence.
I did this with my first coach.  Still have it and use it sometimes.  I'm terrible at planning my own practices, unless I have something specific coming up (test session, etc.).