This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

- specialist

Once you reach a preliminary level of competitive skating you probably have a grasp of twenty different moves. By chance and the luck of your matching physical characteristics some elements come easily and quite naturally to you, yet others will prove to be more challenging. What should you practice then, those things you are good at, or those you are "not so" good at?

You may have to spend an hour every day polishing your layback, your spiral, or your Axel just to stay at a consistent level of competency. Obviously then the moves you are "not so" good at could use the most practice.

Once you are competing prelim you focus most of your effort on your programs. You probably have a technical, a dramatic free, and perhaps even a novelty program, each skating to different music. You need to spend at least half an hour every day on each program in order to keep all the transitions flowing smoothly and cued to the music.

When you assembled the moves to build your programs, what did you choose? Naturally you selected the moves you /were/ good at. When you are practicing your programs you are polishing your best moves therefore, aren't you. In fact when you are spending time adding a rotation or a completely novel element, this growth happens outside of your program (although you might squeeze it in once you get more comfortable with it).

So here's the rub: every day you practice you subtly determine how much of a "specialist" you become by how much time you dedicate to the program elements versus the novelty off-program moves. Do you want to be really excellent at a very specific program? Practice it a lot, but at the peril of very little experimental growth into newer elements and more balanced capabilities.

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