Oct 29, 2009

Specialty classes-- beyond Freestyle 5

For recreational skaters, figure skating can be much more than a singles skater plowing from jump to jump. Starting with synchronized skating, which pretty much everyone in the sport knows about by now, there are all sorts of team, group, and specialty skills that skaters can learn. Here's a few:

Team skating
The Ice Skating Institute (ISI) has a competition category in Team Skating, namely, groups of 3 to 9 skaters doing freestyle skills as a team, with both group skating and spotlighted skills with everyone on the ice at once.

Rhythmic Skating
Another ISI innovation, Rhythmic Skating is essentially skating with props drawn from Rhythmic Gymnastics-- hoops, ribbons, balls.

Jump and Spin classes
These can be either specific jumps/spins (Axel Workshop, doubles, flying spins) or general classes for skaters with any jumps/spins from the simplest to the most complex. A good general jump class will help the skaters learn how to create jump combinations and sequences (and what the difference is), will work on improving speed and flow into jumps, how to do footwork into a jump and other special skills that utilize the jumps that they have already mastered. Spin class could work on adding features to existing spins (arm and leg positions, reverse rotation, etc.)

Ice Dance class
Best ice dance ad I ever saw: "Hey! You in the hockey skates! Wouldn't you rather skate with a woman?" A great specialty class for adults.

Couples Class
Not pairs-- no throws or high lifts, boys a plus but not required. There are all sorts of skills that kids can learn for skating with a partner, same gender or different-- stroking holds, couples spins, simple lifts, drapes. AND, more kudos to ISI, there's a competition category.

Junior Coaching Class
Why not? Get your tweens and young teens out there with experienced coaches and have them teach how to teach. Right now, the profession more or less assumes that if you're a high test or competitive skater, you can teach skating. Not true. Like any teaching, you need to learn how to do it-- how to manage a class, how to deal with injury, how to make it interesting to teach a swizzle, let alone keep a skater (and their parents) engaged their 9th time through Freestyle 5.

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