coaches

Looking back to plan ahead: tips for effective reflection on your season

Though 20 or so of the globe’s best synchronized skating teams are still gearing up to peak at the World Championships in just a few weeks, the 2012-13 competitive season is winding down for most team skaters. Watching my Facebook and Twitter feeds become flooded with try-out notices, I’m prompted to encourage coaches and skaters not to forget to spend some time reflecting on the past season before being carried away by dreams of what lies ahead. Whether your season was successful, dismal, or something in between, taking a hard look at what did and didn’t work over the past several months can help you make smart decisions about how to approach the coming year. (more…)

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Incorporate your competition report card into your strategy for success

You’ve practiced. You’ve competed. You’ve gotten a score, maybe a medal, and a report card.

Now what?

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. (more…)

It’s GOE time: a look at the new guidelines

Let’s talk quality.

It took a few years after the implementation of the new judging system for many coaches to really start to pay attention to Grade of Execution marks and begin to strategize with them in mind. GOE has always been part of the equation, but the learning curve that came with understanding the newly invented technical requirements was initially so large, and the rules seemed to change so drastically each season, that GOE (and PCS) often took a back seat. The past few seasons, however, judges have been extremely pleased to see a significant increase in the number of coaches who are placing a high value on quality, displaying a more wholistic approach to choreography–teams are seeing greater rewards when levels of difficulty are chosen according to the GOE that’s likely to be awarded based on the skaters’ actual abilities. From my perspective, this is leading to a more enjoyable experience for both skaters and officials, as well as the development of a stronger foundation in basic skills across the sport. (more…)

Haydenettes’ founder Lynn Benson nominated for U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame

The official ballot for the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2012 was announced today, and I’m thrilled to see that Lynn Benson has been included. Lynn formed the Haydenettes in 1979 and remained with the team until the end of the 2004-05 season, when she passed the torch to their current coach, Saga Krantz. In her years with the team, Lynn created a foundation for excellence. The Hayden organization has grown to include teams at multiple levels, and the Haydenettes are now 19-time U.S. Champions and two-time World Bronze Medalists, having represented the U.S. at every World Championship since the first ISU-sanctioned event was heldĀ  in 2000 (as well as at each of the World Challenge Cups, held from 1996-99).

It’s wonderful to see this kind of recognition for synchronized skating at such a high level. Lynn’s inclusion on the 2012 ballot places her in good company–she’s been nominated alongside skating legends such as Michelle Kwan, Rudy Galindo, and Lori Nichol.

The full list of nominees is here. The elected Class of 2012 will be announced on December 15, and the induction ceremony will take place at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.

Congratulation to Lynn and Hayden Synchronized Skating Teams on the nomination!

November is the month for reality checks and finding balance

Ah, November. In all my years of skating, it didn’t matter which team I was on, who was coaching me, or what category I was competing in–November sucked. The anticipation and excitement of the early part of the season, when everyone was fresh and anything was possible, had been replaced by debilitating stress and total panic. A handful of skaters still didn’t know their steps. The intersection that had once been disguised as “challenging” now revealed its true nature: impossible. Elements were over-rotated one day and under-rotated the next. The program didn’t have an ending. There was at least one injury. The dresses either weren’t ready, didn’t fit, or were hideous.

Memories I hold near and dear to my heart.

The intent of this post is not, however, to reminisce. Rather, it’s to speak to a few key points coaches need to keep in mind during this very important month. An optimist might say November builds a team’s character. A pragmatist knows that choices made in November can have a big impact on the trajectory of the rest of the season, and prepares to make adjustments. (more…)