Jun 24, 2010

How does the skater plan for the lesson?

Last week I talked about how coaches lay out a lesson: the planners, the spanners, the fanners, and the xanners.

But can skaters help prepare for lessons as well?

You may well ask. (okay, I'll stop being cute now. Okay, no I won't). Of course they can. Let's call them the taggers, the braggers and the draggers.

Taggers take notes. You'll see them at the boards during lessons and practice writing down what the coach says, keeping charts of what they've worked on, and checking things off to make sure they're done. I've found that you can really motivate any 9 year old girl by getting her a cool blank book to put her skating notes in; you can make it even more special by forbidding her mother to look in it. Coach and skater only! This will have the added benefit of making her mother INSANE with curiosity. Taggers practice well, and come to lessons prepared, but spend a lot of time at the boards taking notes and drawing ponies. In skates.

The braggers "already know how to do that." They'll race through the stuff they're supposed to be preparing so that they can do 47 program run-throughs and attempt axels even though they're only in FS3. Advantages of these kids is that they are fearless, because they want to learn the next thing. The disadvantage is that they will brush off the polish of elements that they "know" because they don't understand how skating skills build on each other; it just seems like a waste of time. But they tend to be consistent, if not particularly effective workers, because they'll just keep making attempts until they get it.

The draggers think everything is hard or boring (imagine 15 year old, eyes rolling, whining) or "I can't do that." When they're not whining they are attempting to engage you in gossip, so that they can hang out at the boards, or having spin contests with their buddies, which at least looks like work, anyway. They prepare for lessons by taking 25 minutes to put their skates on, getting on the ice late, doing one program run through (but no jumps, because "people kept getting in my way"). They mostly want praise and attention, and my philosophy, particularly for a recreational skater, is to give it to them. Up to a point I'll indulge this behavior; kids who make something they love, like skating, into a chore, have other issues that need to be addressed. The skating is secondary, and it's no skin off your nose to let a teenager have a place where she can whine and not be judged or criticized for it. (Draggers are always teenagers. The little kids are still relying on their adorableness for attention.)

So, gear up your rhyming skills. Who have I missed?


  1. Most adults are staggers.

  2. So true, Beth! I'm one of them. If I'm not staggering over my own uncooperative feet, I stagger when other skaters intersect my intended trajectory. I stagger over my equipment on those days that it "just doesn't feel right". I stagger in reaction to the normal waxing and waning of skills I experience (had great spins Tuesday, today they've gone dormant)... and in the consequent wake of my own insecurities. Other days, I stagger between tagger, bragger, and dragger modes. I must give my dear coach the fits! It's reassuring to read, Xan, that coaches such as yourself (the "Xanners") understand all of these states of skater-being and know how to adapt the lesson to each.