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.

Monday, June 18, 2012

- factors

Does it really take a specific coach to create a skater of national quality? When I evaluate all of the growth factors that I attribute to a skater, a coach, a ballet teacher and the skater's parents, I'm somewhat unsure that the coach contributes as large an impact as we all think. If I were to graph it piechart-wise I'd say Primary Coach: 20%; Specialty coaches (combined total from 4 of them): 25%; Involved parent: 15%.

Gee that only adds up to sixty. And the remainder? Yeah a full 40% is solely due to the natural abilities, the developed skills, the dedication, the body build, and the injury avoidance of the skater herself.

What's the difference then on the actual development of a skater overall between the best possible and the typical average coach? Well if the worst coach is zero and the best is 20%, then from average to best works out to half of that, or around ten percent. Heck yeah at the elite level this is tremendous, but at the local competitive level guess what? It's mostly irrelevant as it becomes overwhelmed by the other factors.

Now mind you I'm not saying that you can get by with a coach that is a competent lout. You should strive to find a primary coach that your daughter finds *inspiring*; this is the key trait to discover, and it involves having that right "chemistry" between your skater and her coach.

Make sure your skater is comfortable with her everyday coach, but as long as the coach is competent and inspiring don't fret if she's not the best at the rink.


Bonus: check out this retrograde duck: pretty much impossible on the ice, but on wheels....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

- median

One quickly recognizes what makes figure skating unique among human activities. A hint: it's rather like pole vaulting, but it's distinctively not. Another clue: it's analogous to the ballet, but it's notably not. Pole vault ballet? Yeah sure that's it.

But no, rather seriously, figure skating is the only human activity that lands precisely at the middle of physics-dominated sport and soul-dominated art. Well, it did at some point anyways. Back sixty years ago or so it was primarily about cutting figures in the ice (hence the name figure skating); at that point it was much more like ballet.

In the 1980's and 90's though -- when I did most of my watching -- it was exactly at the median, smack dab at the center, exactly between art and a sport. It's the only enterprise that was. Nowadays one could argue it is leaning a bit more toward being like pole vaulting.

So as art addresses the soul, so too skating. Yet as a sport dominated by physics, a skater concentrates on arcane physical postural timings.

Inside a competitor the view spirals into this essential conundrum: how to blend the demands of slippery ice physics with the touching grace of art to the soul? It's the clash between choreography and skills coaching. And only the skater glides across this schism.