I'm having a "maybe I'm too old for this" day where it seems like I can't do anything right. Or, not even right, but just incrementally better than I did it last time. How do you get through those inevitable lack-of-progress-slumps, especially as an adult skater with no cheery peers to meet up with at the rink?This reader sums up the two biggest roadblocks for adults: a sense of isolation coupled with the feeling that you just never get better.
Then there's that weird look you get when you tell people you're a skater. (Or the snide "oh, when are you going to the Olympics" remarks.)
The sense of isolation, in fact, feeds into the sense that you never get better. If you're skating mostly around kids, who make these brilliant leaps forward, your apparent slogging pace feels even more burdensome.
As an adult skater (as an adult anything), you have to make things happen for yourself. Your mother is not going to make you get up, and your coach is more likely to indulge any reluctance to push through, on the assumption that you have more of a clue than a child what you're capable of/willing to try. Here's what you can do:
Make a community
Don't just focus in on the rink that's closest to you. Hop around for a while and find the rinks, classes, and practice times that have a lot of adults, or just talk to the adults that you see--they will know where that ice is. I think you'll find that the extra 15 or 30 minutes drive (if you can afford it) will be well-worth the camaraderie. My experience of adult skaters is that they're friendly and welcoming, on the whole (there are a few stuck up ones, fuck 'em). Go to public skating regularly, and don't discount the hockey players or the moms in the stands. These are all people who are potentially your training mates, your cheering section, and, frankly, your drinking pals. See if you can get a coach to start a theater on ice program for adults (not through the rink--just through the coach). Find a rink that has an adult number in the ice show (not all of them do) and skate in it. I cannot stress this enough. Ice shows are a freaking blast. Liquor will be involved. You will make friends for life.
You have to know what makes you feel successful. When I started skating, the sum total of my ambition was cross rolls. When I found out how easy they were, and how quickly I got to them I felt incredibly successful-it energized me to see what else I could do.
Have a goal
All endeavors proceed more smoothly with a clear goal, and sometimes even a time line. It can be skill-based, activity based (skate in a competition), schedule based (skate 4 hours a week for a month) and it can change, every few days or every few months or longer. It can even be "hang out with Mary for skating and coffee once a week." Doing something as challenging as skating with no goal in mind at all gets old really fast.
You have to know what you think you are capable of, and how you learn well. If you're not someone who responds to an autocratic coach, then don't hire that person. If you're fine with skimming through a test, rather than passing with flying colors, then don't hire the perfectionist. Remember that you're an adult. Unlike child skaters you really do get to call the shots. This does not mean be unreceptive to suggestions or pressure to improve, it just means you don't have to do what scares or doesn't interest you.
Understand your coach
Work with one who matches your needs. Don't worry about switching, and screw the gag rule. It's not really meant for you. Most coaches kind of expect adults to come and go, so if you want to switch coaches or rinks, be polite and upfront, but don't feel like you owe the coach your lifelong loyalty.
Listen to your coach
If your coach thinks you can do better, he's probably right. Coaches treat adults with the degree of kid-gloveness that seems appropriate to that skater. An experienced adult coach who is pushing you hard sees that level of competence; he's not trying to send you to the nearest hospital.
Don't listen to your coach
He's not your mother, after all. I'll push an adult so far; if they are really resisting I'll back off. All good adults coaches will do this.
Take your time
As you know if you're a regular reader, I believe that the least important piece of the skating equation is ability. Other impediments stop progress way before any skater bumps up against the supposed limits of their ability--time, money, fear, commitment, motivation, age. Sometimes you reach these impediments because you don't have faith in your ability, or your motivation bumps up against something that's truly difficult for you. But even if you're competing, there are so many competition levels for adults (divided by age, test, and experience to create so many events that only an accountant could love them) that you can always compete at the top of your game, or push your competence a tiny smidge higher.
Lower your expectations
A correlary of take your time. You always wanted an axel, but is a loop enough?
Raise your expectations
Your loop is pretty good, you're healthy and brave, go for that axel after all.
Finally, as a coach, I really really don't want to hear that ANYTHING in the Learn To Skate levels (up to waltz jump) is too hard for you. There is no skater who cannot learn a one-foot turn, it simply is not that hard. If you balk at simple basic skating and don't have a rock bound excuse (for instance I have a student with brain damage; I cut her a little slack) your coach will write you off howsoever wonderful they may be. If you're not willing to invest nerve and effort into your skating, no one else will either.