Nov 20, 2009


Lots of anxiety this week about axels and freestyle 5 at the rink and here online. One of the important things to remember is that everyone gets stuck somewhere. My own daughter, now a triple gold medalist (meaning Senior test in Moves, FS, and Dance) had a legendary stint in Freestyle 5: two and a half years. Nine. Sessions. She zoomed up to Freestyle 4, leaving all her age mates in the dust. And then they all starting passing her. And passing her. And passing her.

Yesterday I asked her, on behalf of a former student and her concerned mother, how she got past her fear of the axel. Her response made me understand how figure skating helped her to grow up. In the past I've attributed her increased maturity around this time to a coaching change which happened a few months after she finally nailed that jump, but reading this I think she probably did it on her own, and the axel helped.
I think getting over the falling thing is more of a maturity thing. There's just a point when you stop worrying about it. And that was even after I started working on my doubles. You just have to get over the fact that yes, you are going to fall and yes it is going to hurt sometimes. Just accept it.
The point is, everyone gets stuck somewhere. My former student "Patti" got stuck, incredibly, at Pre Alpha. This was an extraordinary child who found the maturity to reach inside and get over her fear, on her own, at the unheard of age of 6. Watch for her to be president someday. There are places where we expect kids to get stuck-- Gamma (mohawk turns), Freestyle 4 (sit spin), Freestyle 7 (flying camel, wally), and of course, FS 5.

In my opinion, the lower you get stuck, the better off you are. A kid that is pushed through the basic levels almost always has technical deficiencies relating to upper body control, basic understanding of edges and turns, and weak crossovers and stroking.

What you're working on here, as a skater or a parent or a coach, is enabling the skater to find that place inside where understanding clicks into place. You can't give it to her. But you can take it away, by rewarding the wrong thing, or punishing the effort.

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