Friday, July 24, 2015

Skating Fridays

Grassroots to Champions Seminar, Part 1


This past weekend, I traveled to Atlanta to participate in an adults-only Grassroots to Champions ("G2C") seminar. It was taught by 3 distinguished coaches, all of whom have directly worked with Olympians and National champions.

This was the second time I have attended G2C, and I was certain that I would get something new out of it this time around. I was right.

I'm going to share the notes I took into a few different posts. Hope you all find these helpful.

The first thing we did was talk about the proper way to learn. Before you even step out on the ice, you need to understand a few things about the sport and how our brains work.

1. Technique, Technology and Training
  • Technique: Learning proper technique is the safest and most efficient way to getting things right
  • Technology: Utilizing technology (Dartfish, Coach's Eye, Videos, etc.) to pinpoint problem areas can be extremely helpful in skating
  • Training: Training your muscles to execute proper technique. "More drills than spills." If you train your muscles correctly, you will be less prone to falling.
2. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You need to commit to making a change if you want to improve. If you know your arms are in the wrong spot on a certain element, don't keep doing it incorrectly. Make the change and drill it into your head to make the new position a new habit.

3.  (Time) x (Rotation rate) x (Axis) + (Desire) = Landed jump
  • Time: There have been several informal studies showing that each jump requires a minimum amount of air time. If a skater cannot achieve the minimum air time, then the jump will be impossible to execute. Trevor Laak wrote about this a few years ago, and this chart is extremely helpful. For example, if your waltz jump is under 0.3 seconds air time (defined as the time you launch off the toe pick and land on the other toe), then you will most likely never land an axel.
  • Rotation rate: How fast do you rotate in the air? The quicker you can get your body into the proper position, the better your chance of landing a multi-rotational jump.
  • Axis: What does your air position look like? Are you correctly tilted in the air?
  • Desire: This is the key. If you truly want to land the jump, you can train the body to do the jump. If you have any ounce of fear or doubt, then you won't land it. The brain is a powerful thing.
4. Get the "er" out of life. Rather than focus on being the strongEST, fastEST, highEST (etc.), focus on the -er instead: I want to become a strongER / fastER skater. I want to jump highER.

5. Brain / Body / Blade
  • Brain: Your brain has a vision of what to execute
  • Body: Your brain tells your body what to do
  • Blade: Your body guides the skating blade
  • Watch out for "paralysis by analysis." One example is snapping your fingers. You can watch videos on how to snap your fingers together - rub thumb and finger in a quick motion to make a sound. And you can analyze this ad infinitum and still not get it. It takes some natural element to do it. Same with skating. You can watch videos and analyze all you want, but that doesn't mean you can do it. Train your brain to visualize the element and have the true desire to want to execute it correctly.

OK, that's it for today. Stay tuned for more next week!

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