Mar 24, 2011

When do you stop learning?

I was accused recently of always "stepping over the line and trying to 'grow'" (yes, with finger quotes).

I'm not really sure what to make of this, as in fact that is exactly what I am trying to do, what I've spent my entire adult life trying to do-- to get better at whatever it is I'm learning, to master things, and yes, to 'grow' (finger quotes). But it was fairly clear that this person was leveling a criticism at me, for trying to be something that I'm not. For quite literally overstepping (he demonstrated this with a giant step over an imaginary line).

You hear a lot about "lifelong learning," which is a euphemism for continuing education, which is itself a euphemism for adult education. And the reason we keep having to run away from these phrases is that there is such a fear, or distaste, or even contempt for the person who admits that they don't know everything.

Unlike other professions, figure skaters reach their skills peak at a very young age, and grow up hearing a lot about how wonderful they are. Sometimes they can't get past it; they don't learn that skill at coaching is not the same as skill at skating, and that coaching is an adult profession that you learn as an adult, not something you pick up from years spent as a student. If that was possible, we'd all be math teachers. (Although, truth be told, most figure skating coaches needs must learn on the job, since until recently there were no courses in this, and even now the education offered by the Professional Skaters Association and Ice Skating Institute are entirely at-will. You don't have to do continuing ed to get a rink to hire you as a coach.)

I never skated at the high level that other coaches have. If I wanted to coach, I had to come at it from another angle. Where other coaches succeed via their skill at skating, I had to succeed via my skill at teaching. There is a fear among some coaches that I will "overstep" right into their expertise-- high level or competitive skaters. Mind you, only one of them has ever asked me why I keep trying to learn about high level skaters, or if I want to move into teaching them. For the record, I don't. It's neither appropriate based on my background, desirable based on my ambitions, or necessary based on the market. I just like to, well, "grow."

What we all do as adults, is take our hobbies and our talents-- music, or writing, or math-- and turn them into professions. We train, and study, and apprentice to achieve the skills we need as teachers, managers, or scientists working in whatever field drew us.

Figure skating was my hobby. I studied and trained and apprenticed so that it could be my profession. I sacrificed a lot to do this, starting with a very high paying job, leaving behind not just the salary, but the reputation I'd built over years in that field.

I want to be good at what I do. If this means that I admit to gaps in my knowledge and ability, this is a strength, not a weakness. But apparently figure skaters don't see that.

Figure skating or hockey?

Just a run down:

Boys v. Girls
No getting around it, hockey is where the boys are, figure skating is where the girls are. I won't make a value judgment on that. If genderizing your kids is important to you (and I say that without sarcasm, as it is important to some), then I wouldn't even fight it. Put your boy in hockey skates and your girl in figure skates.

A lot of boys start in "regular" skates and then switch to hockey skates, but I don't see this happening in the other direction, and I should. Not everyone is cut out for team sports, and a boy who skates well shouldn't feel like he has to quit skating if he doesn't like hockey. Same goes for girls-- not all the little girls are graceful swans. We need to find ways to help kids feel good about switching to a sport they'll excel in, rather than sticking to the stereotype.

Just a caveat-- I'm not one to insist on rigid gender roles, but if you put your very young boy in white figure skates, or your girl in black ones (say under age 8 or 9), please give the coach other solid gender clues, especially if the child's name is "River" or "Tegan." Kids, especially in the 3 to 7 year old range, get really really annoyed when you get it wrong.

Skills v. Rules
Hockey and figure skating both have skills and rules. Hockey lessons tend to start with the rules and bring the skills in gradually, while figure skating starts with the skills and brings in the rulebook later. With hockey, I think it's largely a matter of ice availability-- you can learn figure skating rules at a desk, or not learn them at all if you never do testing or competitions, but hockey rules you have to learn while playing, and if the choice is game vs skills, game is going to win out in limited ice time.

But my observation is, except for the very talented kids, hockey players who took the time to build skating skills like stroking (striding), cross overs and turns before game time do much better at the sport. I am adamant that all skaters should learn basic skating skills before choosing whether to specialize in hockey or figure skating. In fact, I believe that programs should include required cross-discipline workshops so kids can find out whether they might like the other side better or not.

Easy v. Difficult
It is easier to learn to skate in regular skates, especially for very young children and timid adults. Period. The blade is longer and shallower, so you don't get the tipping over forwards and backwards. A beginner may trip on the toe pick, although this is much less common than the tipping over that you observe in a lot of beginners in hockey skates.

Expensive v. Cheap
Hockey is the more expensive skill to start. In fact, hockey clubs are perfectly brilliant. You require the parents to invest a couple/few hundred bucks in skates, padding, and equipment, plus a team fee, plus a uniform, and now you've got them, because they've just laid a bunch of cash on this and by god, that kid's gonna do this. I think figure skating schools should require skates, uniforms and memberships, too. Brilliant.

Seriously, though, the sense is that figure skating is this ridiculously expensive sport that will require a second mortgage, but upfront the cost is minimal. Even if you buy new skates, your costs the first couple of years are going to be way under what you'll sink into beginning hockey. At higher levels, most recreational youth sports will have comparable costs. And a hockey player with serious NHL aspirations, like a figure skater with a serious shot at Nationals, will spend some serious money on equipment, special coaching, traveling, etc.

Solo v. Team
There is team figure skating, called Synchro, but it is an advanced skill. Unlike hockey, you can't start with the team with minimal skating ability. Your little boy who isn't good at team sports at school, or likes to go off and play by himself, or with a couple of friends, or who likes doing his own thing, is not going to like hockey, no matter how much you think that penises confer a desire to play hockey. Conversely, little girls who join everything they can, who excel at soccer and t-ball and field hockey might be better off joining a hockey team than go solo.

I sometimes watch the hockey games, and observe the kids sitting on the bench rather than hanging on the boards, or hanging back on the ice doing artistic things with the sticks, or doing little jumps and spins and wonder, am I the only one seeing this? Put your artist in the artistic side of ice sports. Leave the hockey game to Killer (boy or girl).

Is your kid really into falling, crashing, bumping? Hockey. Figure skaters fall, just not on purpose, because no padding.

I've said it before lots of times. Ice is ice. Hockey skating will not keep your girl from wearing pink (there's a whole industry now of hockey equipment for the Princess in you. If Junior wants it too, you might want to rethink hockey). That said, figure skates will not make your son gay, if he's not getting there on his own anyway.

Mar 18, 2011

Get over it

The ice schedule was passed down from the mountain and is not going to change.

You won't get better if you don't practice.

Pretty much everyone gets the axel eventually. Showing up for lessons and practice might help.

There's this thing called the internet where skating rinks post all kinds of useful information, like that form you claim you never got.

Falling hurts.

She's not going to be competing at the Olympics. Not in figure skating, anyway.

Children will get pissy if you let them. If I don't let them, it's because I'm a good coach, not because I'm a bad person.

Your skater is not more important than my skater.

It's not your imagination. That other kid is better than your kid.

Shut up and pay the bill.

Your coach is fine. If he isn't, don't complain about him to all and sundry, just for god's sake get a new coach. I frankly am not interested in the reason.

If you skip a level it will catch up with you eventually.

Repeating Beta will not affect your child's chance of getting into Harvard.

The specialty figure skate store knows more about skates than your grandfather, unless your grandfather is Don Jackson.

If you got good gossip about Other Mom from Mom Who Knows Everything, you can take it to the bank that Other Mom got some good gossip about you.

You're right: it totally sucks that that other kid got passed and your kid did not, even though your kid is a better skater.

If your child is falling way way more often than the other kids in class, it's not because it's slippery, or that she's trying harder things, or that the coach is not paying attention, it's because she has a possible neurological condition and needs to be evaluated by a medical professional.

In non-qualifying competitions, there is an inverse relationship between the cost of the costume and the talent of the child.

There is no correlation between the cost of your car and the talent of your child.

Mar 16, 2011

Who to talk to when you need to change coaches

I'm going to eat my words here. Pay attention, because I don't do this often. Well, not eat them, but amend them, embellish them, walk around them a little bit.

I've said in the past that if you think you need a coaching change you should research it a bit, and talk to people about who and how. But that advice was too broad, and a recent situation leads me to a more subtle recommendation.

As ever, if you are unhappy with your coach, for whatever reason--tardiness, scheduling issues, skater progress, et cetera-- always talk to the coach first. Remember to not be accusatory, and always to frame statements as they affect you or your skater, and not in terms of faulting anyone. (Lots of resources on the web about active listening and non-confrontational conflict resolution.) Then you need to listen to what the coach says; for instance, if the coach says the skater isn't on the ice enough to achieve his or her goals, this is probably a giant clue as to the source of your skater's lack of progress.

If you can't go to the coach, through either legitimate concerns or cowardice, then there are two people you cannot talk to. Do not go to another member of the coaching staff. First, it puts them in a very sketchy ethical position; they are obligated by the PSA to report to the current coach that they have had this conversation. Second, it damages your coach's reputation, which I'm going to assume you do not want to do.

Do not go to the parent of someone with a different coach. First, this drops you into the gossip mill, and second, it exposes that coach to an ethical violation as well, possibly without the coach even being aware of it. I'm a bit on the fence about whether you should talk to other parents with the current coach; again, this can have the effect of damaging that coach's reputation and livelihood.

So I've just taken away all your resources, haven't I. But there are people you can talk to.

The current coach
Most coaching issues are about communication-- both not talking and not listening. State the problem as succinctly as you can. "I am concerned about the schedule, our lessons don't seem to be a consistent length" (translation: I feel like you're always late, or talking to someone other than my skater during lessons); "I am concerned about my skater's lack of progress" (translation: I have not been following the coach's advice about how much she should be skating.) Then LISTEN to what the coach says. Sometimes just putting a concern in front of the person who can do something about it is all it takes.

The Skating Director
You don't have to have some giant criminal issue with the coach in order to go to the skating school director for advice. I've got a skating director who is notorious for staying behind the scenes, but is absolutely available for parents who want advice, as is every director I've ever worked for. Most facilities bar the skating school director from having private students at their facility, so they are about as neutral a source as you're going to get in your own house. Again, make sure you frame your concerns based on reality. If you ask her to keep it confidential, she will.

USFS Parents Committee/ISI
This is a wonderful resource that is underused by recreational skaters. They pretty much exist for this purpose. Call them up, explain the problem; they will connect you with someone who can help. I don't know if there is a direct counterpart at ISI, but if you call their membership office, I'm betting they will have someone you can talk to. USFS Parents Committee has a Facebook page (of course they do) with emails (under Info) of all committee members.

A former skating parent
Talk to someone who's done with the program. Better yet, someone who's done with a different skating school. Again, your skating director is a good resource for this, and will be able to steer you to someone receptive.
Icemom has an "advisory committee" that she taps for difficult skating problems. Check out "Ask the Icemoms" on her site. The panel consists of people like former champion skaters, current coaches, and skating moms, including one mother of an Olympic skater.

Mar 13, 2011

PSA Code of Ethics

I thought you might be interested in reading the Tenets of Professionalism that Professional Skaters Association members are required to follow. If your coach is testing or has students in USFS competitions, they are required to be members. Group class coaches and coaches who only take students to ISI are not required to be members, but they should be anyway.

Tenets of Professionalism
The purpose of these tenets of professionalism is to provide a framework of conduct above and beyond the minimum standards provided by the Code of Ethics as set forth in the bylaws of the Professional Skaters Association. The Professional Skaters Association is aware that applicable rules of ethics covering professional responsibility generally provide only minimum standards of acceptable conduct. The Professional Skaters Association and its membership aspire to the highest ideals of professionalism and acknowledge that the following tenets of professional conduct should be followed in the performance of professional services provided to those with whom we have contact.

1 .As coaches of skating, we will conduct ourselves in a manner that demonstrates respect for the rules under which our skaters compete and that we will preserve with decorum and integrity of the testing program and competition.
2. Professional Skaters Association recognizes that professional courtesy is consistent with the role of the coach. As members of the Professional Skaters Association, coaches will be civil and courteous to all with whom we come in contact and will endeavor to maintain a collegial relationship with other coaches.
3. As skating coaches, we acknowledge that from time to time the students with whom we work may wish to leave us as the coach and seek coaching elsewhere. We acknowledge that we will cooperate with other coaches when conflicts arise and will be willing to make such changes on behalf of the students as will complement the further performance and progress of that student.
4. When competitions or testing situations arise, we agree to keep our students and the parents of those students well informed and involve them in the decision making that affects their interest while at the same time avoiding emotional attachment to our students and their activities both in skating and out of skating which might impair our ability to render professional service.
5. As professionals, and as members of the Professional Skaters Association, we will honor our promises and our commitments, whether oral or in writing, and strive to build a reputation for dignity, honesty and integrity in the skating profession.
6. As professionals, and members of the Professional Skaters Association, we will not make groundless accusations of impropriety or attribute bad motives to other coaches in bad faith or without good cause.
7. As professionals, and as members of the Professional Skaters Association, we will not engage in any course of conduct designed to harass another coach, skating organization official, another skater or the parent of another skater.
8. As professionals, and as members of the Professional Skaters Association, we will strive to expand our knowledge of skating and to achieve and maintain proficiency in our area of expertise.
9. We will never allow race, gender, religion, age or other suspect classifications of persons to improperly motivate our actions.
10. At all times and in all things when dealing with the skating public, officials and other members of the coaching profession, we will adhere to the proposition that our practices shall be governed by the principals of honesty and integrity.

Mar 12, 2011

Your coach is right and you are not listening

Can't land the axel? Didn't get the better solo? Didn't pass Freestyle 4? Again? Clearly your coach doesn't know what she's doing.

Or maybe you're just not listening. Here's what she's saying:
You need to skate more.

You need to pay attention during lesson and class.

You need to practice what I tell you to practice, and the way I tell you to practice it.

You need to do the drills we learn in lessons.

You need to skate more.

You need to not be afraid to fall.

You need to jump, instead of circling the ice 12 times.

You need to stop worrying about that other skater and, um, skate more.

You need to not freak out every time someone criticizes your technique.

You need to get to lessons on time, and warmed up.

You need to skate more.
We're not saying these things just to warm the air.

Mar 9, 2011

Another post about skipping levels

Why is that child in PreFreestyle when she can't do crossovers? Here's why:

Skater actually did pass the prior test
Frankly, this is the most common reason that kids look like they haven't passed. They actually have, legitimately. But they don't get that you have to do it right all the time, not just when some coach is screaming at you, or when it " counts." I don't know why this would be, except lack of practice. It's not like they forget how to read between school days. Or maybe it is- any classroom teachers here who feel like they teach the same lesson over and over because the kids don't retain it after the test?

Skater passed the prior test last year
Also very common. Skaters will come back in at the last level they passed, even if they haven't skated for a year or more. So they've lost the skill. You hate to bump a kid back, and they have to be pretty bad to justify it; it's not worth the ego hit, frankly. My one exception would be freestyle. I think if you haven't been in a given freestyle program for the past 2 or 3 sessions, you should have to test into your level.

Skater jumped several levels back

And it's catching up with her. It is possible to get jumped past PreAlpha or Alpha or Beta, illegitimately, and then actually pass Gamma and/or Delta, because we are not allowed to retest the "lower level" skills in order to hold a kid back. And frankly there would be no point, because you can't really devote class time to reteaching these skills to individual children. It's not fair to the ones with the legitimate passes. But as we've all observed, it catches up with them, especially at the middle freestyle levels.

Private lesson coach is selling you a bill of goods
The private lesson coach has convinced the parents that the class levels are "a waste of time," or "holding them back" or that the skater is "so talented she doesn't need to take that class." Let's see what else-- "I can teach this better/faster." "Privates are always better." Parents take this as gospel and up the kid goes. There is a prevailing attitude that "your child is talented, so she'll catch up." This is absolutely true if you have a coach, and the money, who will do multiple lessons per week (lots of coaches have semi-private groups working on basic skating). If you're not skating much, don't skip the level, don't short the level. Stand your ground and finish the level.

Parent doesn't get it
Actual quotes:
"I don't understand why you're working on stroking. Isn't that in Alpha? This is Gamma, she's already learned that."
"She taught herself backward crossovers on public last week, so she should jump from PreAlpha 2 to Gamma."
"I was a competitive skater when I was a child, so I want her in Freestyle 1."
"She only wants to work with Coach In-Crowd, and she teaches Delta, so we're going to take that class."
"I can't get her at that time, so we signed up for the class two levels up on Tuesdays, which fits into our schedule"
"She needs to be in class with her friend/brother/cousin. So we signed them both up for Higher Level Class."
Private lesson coach is an idiot
But you didn't hear it from me.

Class coach is an idiot
No comment.

Okay I'll comment. There are coaches who are afraid to hold kids back unless the line is very very clear. They don't want to have to explain to parents why the child isn't passing. They don't know how to respond to comments about all those other kids "who aren't as good as my child, but he passed!" They don't understand the requirement, because they see what you're seeing-- kids without the skills, in the higher levels. They are feeding into a class that a friend is teaching, with an eye toward later telling you that "classes are bullshit." They are afraid to stand their ground on a borderline skill. They don't know how to do group lessons with a wide range of ability-- from beginners to almost passed-- so they bump up the almosts.

Parent lies to program about whether the skater has passed
I've been in programs where we tried to keep track of class tests, or where there were no class tests-- you had to pass on test day in front of a judging panel. Keeping track of tests is very difficult without 100% buy in from the coaching staff, which you're never going to get. And if one coach doesn't cooperate, pretty soon the rest of the coaches are going to say, well she's not doing this extra step, she's getting away with it, so why should I bust my britches. End of system. So you only have the parent's word for it. I've called kids on this and tried to put them back in their proper level, only to have a parent stand there and lie to my face about "the other coach passed him."

Kid lies about test
Yes, there are parents who don't look at the test sheet, so the kid just says that they passed.

Program doesn't monitor the problem
Any business without adequate oversight is going to have problems. In a shop, you'll get "shrinkage"-- disappearing stock-- through neglect or outright theft. Well, this is shrinkage in a skating school. Some stock will always slip through; shrinkage is a fact of life. But if you don't try to minimize, through oversight, policing, monitoring, and communication, the problem will grow until it's systemic and impossible to root out.

A word about ISI Learn to Skate and Basic Skills
It isn't the curriculum, it's the management and the rink culture.

Whatever. That skater is never going to land an axel, but if it's important to your ego to have your kid skip levels, go for it.

Mar 7, 2011

The Specialty Coach

What do you do when you cannot get the jump? Or can't get control of your nerves at competition or testing? Or need to increase the difficulty of your spins?

You call in the specialty coach. (Maybe. We'll get to that.)

A specialty coach is a coach with a strong track record in technique on a single type of element-- you'll most often find specialty coaches working on pairs spins, jumps (or a specific jump, or a specific level of rotations). Off-ice training and choreography are specialty fields. Dance teams in particular might work with a number of coaches because of the complexity of the discipline--pairs and dance spins, lifts, stroking and tracking, expression, compulsory patterns. A specialty coach may also have general students, but then team teaches with the main coach on some kids working on the specialty.

So how do you know you need one? Who decides that, and when? Who are the specialty coaches? How long do you work with them, who takes part in the lesson, how much will it cost (and how do I keep my husband from finding out).

How do I know I need a specialty coach?
If your regular coach suggests it, you need one. However, if you're only working on single axels, it's possible that you don't need a specialty coach, you just need a regular coach who knows how to teach axels. I hate to break it to the newbie parents, but single axel is a low-level (ok ok mid level) jump. Your regular coach really should know how to teach this. If you're having trouble with your axel and the coach suggests a jump coach, you might want to look around and see if your coach's other students are landing axels. (Then, just for good measure, make sure the supposed jump coach has kids who are landing axels, and isn't just the regular coach's buddy.) You might not need a "jump coach" so much as you need a "coach." If you're having trouble with your axel while working with a coach who has a track record, stick with him. The only reason to get a jump coach in such a case is to break down mental barriers that you may have built up with your regular coach.

If you think you might benefit from specialty lessons, it's okay to approach the regular coach with this idea. This is where I might relent a little on the idea of a specialty coach for the axel. If you've been working on the axel for the better part of a year or more, sometimes just hearing even the same technique from someone else really can help.

If your coach suggests a specific specialist ask around and see if this person really is a specialist in this area. You will tend to start to know who the jump wizards are at your facility. (Ask the parents, not the coaches. A coach will not pass judgment on a colleague. We are actually prohibited by our professional association, the PSA, from stating an opinion on another coach's teaching ability.)

What if my coach suggests working with a "guest coach?"
Sometimes a guest coach might be in town and your coach suggests taking a couple lessons with him or her. The guest coach might be a famous person (at least in the figure skating world), so go for it, because what fun! We had former U.S. Ice Dance Medalist Morgan Matthews teaching at our rink last year; her friend that brought her in even had her working in tot class, which was just wonderful.

Higher level skills
You're more likely to need a specialty coach for doubles and triples than for singles because of the greater complexity, and because it frees the regular lessons from overworking the jumps. When you take a specialty lesson, this is additional, not in place of your regular lesson. Including the additional cost. Further, find out if your regular coach expects to be there, because if he does, you're going to be paying two coaches for that lesson. (This is not always clear to parents.) Again, especially with doubles, which are basic skating really, make sure that you need a guest coach because it's the best option, and not because your coach doesn't know how to teach doubles. Again, because of the additional cost involved, check out your coach's other students-- are they landing doubles? If so, then a specialty coach may or may not be called for. (Sometimes a coach might say right up front, look, I don't teach doubles, why don't you work with Coach Special on those, and we'll continue to do everything else in our regular lessons. This is fine, and bully for that ethical coach.)

Special skills
Spin features, expression, stroking technique, and other narrow skill areas are also places where you might find specialty coaching. Your Xanboni says if you are competing only in Basic Skills or non-qualifying events, and call in an expensive specialty coach to work on your Level IV spin, you're either pretentious, indulgent, or delusional. But that's just me.

What will it cost?
Whatever the market will bear. Some coaches will charge their regular rates for specialty coaching. Some coaches will charge more when it's framed as a specialty skill. Some can charge a lot more because they've got a reputation for being good with the specialty. Plus, remember, additional ice time and fee; you're doing this in addition to your regular lesson, not in place of it.

When are we done with the specialist?
Up to you and the regular coach. When you master the skill, or after a set number of lessons. Or you do occasional one-offs. Or when you run out of money (if you think this might be an issue, please tell all parties involved at the outset. Thank you.)

What's the best way to brag about this?
Cool, specialty coach! Well, maybe. If you're working with a specialty coach because it's been 3 years and your kid still doesn't have an axel, I'd keep it on the QT. But if you're working with Famous Coach, or you've started working on triples, or you just really can't keep your pride to yourself (yeah, yeah, I get it I get it), don't say (nose in air) "Owh, that's her jump coach." Say, "Oh, she's just working with Butch on jumps." Please don't start in on "well, Princess' jump coach blah blah blah and Princess' choreographer blah blah blah and Princess' sports psychologist blah blah blah and Princess costume designer blah blah blah" or if you do, don't come crying to me about your slashed tires.

So, specialty coach, yes or no?
Yes. Even if you're not sure about your coach's motivation. Even if you feel a little silly having a "specialty" coach for a nearly recreational skater, as long as you can afford it, it really can't hurt.

And there are those bragging rights.

Have you worked with a specialty coach? Was it a good experience, or do you think you might as well have gone without?

Mar 2, 2011

Preparing for the audition

Auditions for the spring show all done? Disappointed? Here's what to do before the next one.

There was a lot of activity at my home rink in the past two weeks, because qualifying auditions for the spring ice show were coming up. Kids who skate once a week were suddenly there every day, working hard.

The bad news is that it's too late.

The time to start preparing for something like an audition is 6 months ahead of time. Double jumps are not something you can cram for-- it's not like the date of the invasion of Poland, which you can memorize and forget, and then look up when you need it. Muscle memory doesn't work like that-- your muscles won't "remember" the jump unless it was really really solid in the first place. Michelle Kwan can skate once a year and still land an axel. You can't. Once or twice a week skaters seldom achieved that kind of competence. So here's a step by step calendar for preparing for that audition:

At least six months prior
Find out exactly what will be required at the audition--what jumps, whether it's a skills-only, or a program presentation. Make sure your coach knows the requirements and the date. Evaluate those skills with your coach and develop a plan to solidify those skills over the next 3 to 4 months. If you're only skating once or twice a week, look at how you can increase that. My rule of thumb is 30 minutes on the ice for every rotation in your jump repertoire. So if you need an axel, a double, and a double-single combination (5 1/2 rotations) you need to be on the ice about 5 hours a week (including lesson, practice, and class). The time to increase the amount of skating you do is not at the end of the process, but at the beginning. (If anything, you'll drop off a little in the final week.) This is where you'll gain that all-important muscle memory, not in the last 3 days before the audition.

The period from t
hree months to one month prior
Continue perfecting each skill and start to work on conditioning and presentation, especially cardio and nerves. Ask the coach if she can set up critiques with judges or other skaters or coaches to try to emulate the performance (i.e. nerves-inducing) aspects of the audition. Continue working on good technique, and keep skating as much as possible.

The period from one month to one week prior

Confirm the requirements and dates; make sure they haven't changed. Figure out your actual activities at the audition: off-ice warm up, ice entry, on-ice warm up and presentation. You should practice this every time you're at the rink, as well as getting regular lessons to solidify the skills, so that you're not making it up when you get there. Every step once you're inside the building on audition day should be 'choreographed'.

One week prior
Keep practicing as though you're at the audition: do the same off-ice warm up, ice entry, on-ice warm up and presentation. Minor corrections from coach. The skills should be ready. The focus now is on confidence and presentation. Practice smiling while skating (this is harder, and less silly, than it sounds).

Day before audition
No skating. Eat three good meals and get a good night's sleep.

Audition day
If you want, do a brief on-ice practice, just emulating your warm-up and presentation. Your coach can be there, but this is not a lesson. The time for corrections is past.

The Audition
No worries. The jumps and spins are solid, the confidence is high, you're prepared. You've got your nerves under control and all you have to do is smile and skate.

I see a lot of good skaters flubbing auditions because they don't think far enough ahead. For younger skaters, mom and dad need to keep their eye on the prize and work this plan out with the coach. For teens, the coach needs to lower the boom on the skater and get mom and dad on board with the increased skating this far out.

(P.S. The consensus from the judging panel is: work on those spirals. Jeebus, kids, spirals?)