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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

- telegraph

I was a rather average basketball guard growing up, practicing about an hour a day or so. One of my problems was that opponents all too frequently stole my passes. Why? Well as my coach explained I needed to stop "telegraphing." It took me a while to comprehend his advice, but basically he was saying that I was thinking too loudly -- I  contemplated my pass a second or two beforehand, and the opponents scanned my thoughts and hence intercepted my pass.

In figure skating nobody is going to jump in and steal your momentum because you are concentrating on your Lutz ahead of time, but something still looks awry. I sometimes wonder if overthinking your jump reflects badly on your professionalism or distracts you from embellishments you could otherwise be performing with your arms, hands, or attitude to infuse more grace.

It seems to me that telegraphing makes the entry into your jump less natural. It's as if you are setting up your muscles to perform ahead of time rather than allowing for your muscle memory to guide you automatically on the exact moment as the time arrives.

Might it be possible to focus more on grace and less on your takeoff, or would doing so adversely affect your jump? How would you know unless you tried?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

- dedication

I suspect the amount of time a parent spends at the rink may be a regional artifact. I sense in other parts of the country it's not unusual to drop your kid off for lessons and then return three hours later after the coaching, ballet, off ice, and freestyle. In the meanwhile you can do some shopping, clean house, or whatever.

Out here though it's not uncommon for the rink to be a solid half hour drive away -- without traffic. That means a drop-off roundtrip adds another full hour of driving. Spending half of every day at the rink then becomes the more logical choice whether you like it or not.

In the Southwest a parent with a serious young skater practically lives at the rink. I have infinite respect for the parents of skaters out here: it takes a lot of dedication to commit that much time to your kid's sport.

Nowadays when I go visit a competition all the parents seem exceedingly stressed. They also express surprise that a guy would go watch a competition without a skater involved. Why would anyone ever want to spend *more* time at the rink after their kid finishes her skating career?

I smile inwardly knowing that one day they may well do the same.