You’ve practiced. You’ve competed. You’ve gotten a score, maybe a medal, and a report card.
Teams often find themselves asking this question after the first competition. There are an infinite number of different strategies a team can use to prepare for the next competition, and a chosen strategy may or may not change after you have a score and report card from two competitions, or three. No official can tell you which approach will lead to guaranteed success, but I do have a few tips to share to help you make the best possible use of your report card.
- DO spend some quality time with your report card, and try to interpret as much of it as you can by referencing the rulebook(s) and summary of calls (Skate Canada AND ISU, for Canadian teams) before approaching officials with questions. You’ll learn more that way, and officials greatly appreciate it when coaches come to us informed. (Check out this post if you need a reminder about which documents to reference.)
- DON’T ask officials for “general feedback” about your team’s performance. In essence, that’s what your report card provides.
- DO ask the event referee if you have specific questions about GOE, PCS, or deductions.
- DO ask the Technical Controller if you have questions about why you didn’t receive a specific call, or what a deduction on a call was for. DO take the time to consult the relevant rules to try to decipher the logic behind the call first. For instance, if you received a D2 on an element, look up all the reasons that deduction may have been given before asking the TC for clarification.
- DON’T ignore GOE and PCS. Teams that focus only on getting the technical calls are missing half the picture. Don’t look at the world with one eye closed–GOE in particular provides excellent feedback about your calls, since there is a direct relationship there. If you attempted a level 4 element and only got level 1, AND your GOEs were sub-zero, that should offer you great insight into how close you were to actually getting the level 4 call you were striving for. If you got the level 4 call, but the majority of your GOEs were negative, how is that affecting the overall value of the element? And do you notice a correlation between low GOE and low PCS? If a team struggles during elements, the PCS will reflect that. If a team executes elements with confidence and ease, whether they’re attempting level 1 or level 4, the PCS will reflect that.
- DO look at the report cards of other teams you saw skate. Notice their strengths and weaknesses, not so you can capitalize on them, but so that you can try to make more correlations between execution and scores, for a program that you’re not familiar with. It can be hard to look beyond the fishbowl that your own program lives in and assess it objectively.
- DO go over the report card with your skaters and educate them about what the numbers mean. Give them opportunities to directly contribute to the calls and scores you’ll receive at the next competition.
Competition season is just as exciting for officials as it is for skaters, and there’s nothing we love more than seeing teams taking feedback to heart, and progressing and improving. Milk that report card for all it’s worth as you prepare to step on the ice at your next event. We look forward to seeing the results of your efforts!