Thursday, March 22, 2012

Deliberate Practice and the Weak Side

The other night at edge group Coach Cruella asked the two of us who had shown up for class: "What do you want to start on tonight?"

"My three turns suck." I did one. They don't actually suck. I have a nice turn with a pretty point but because of my short exit edge they quickly turn into drop threes.

The other student's eyes popped open. "What's that?"

I have to cut her some slack; She was in hockey skates and apparently is still in learn to play. So, I thought quick about something she and I both do. "What about back crossovers?"

"Okay," Coach Cruella said, "What's your weak side?"

CCW for both of us. "So start there." She said.

 So, upholding the banner of deliberate practice, I did weak side first. And I did it again today at practice. I'm getting more comfortable on the weak side, I can hold the body and arm position Coach Cruella wants, but I can't crossover on the weak side (yet). The good side? The back crosses are adequate. God knows what Dance Coach will say. He keeps saying  "You're not ready for back crosses." He still has me doing back step overs because of my weak back edge. I guess I'll find out Saturday what he thinks!

Is deliberate practice working? Well, too early to tell. But I was able to practice all my backwards stuff first (weak side first) before I got to my fun stuff. Slowly conquering my skating phobias. What's next? Back 3s?


  1. I wish more coaches would require weak side practice in group class.

    We do crossovers every time we have one substitute coach. Maybe 7 minutes on the easy side, while he critiques position and explains exactly what he wants. Then about 2 minutes on the bad side.

    Well no wonder it stays the bad side.

    1. One major benefit of learning to jump and spin is that you regularly use your back crossovers in BOTH directions - for a CCW spinner/jumper you use CW back crossovers to enter your spin, and CCW crossovers to enter many jumps (especially the waltz jump or axel). I remember that I once had a definite weak side for backward crossovers, but for the life of me, I can't remember which side it was. (Now my front crossovers are another matter - I have recently been forcing myself to work on the dreaded weak side some every session, and it is slowly improving.)

      Once you get moderately good at back crossovers (meaning you can do the cross and you are not scritching all the time with your picks), I think it's great fun to practice back crossovers in a figure eight pattern (provided the ice isn't too crowded to make this unsafe). I love the feeling of transitioning from one circle to the other - two foot glide, transition the arms, shoulders and head from one circle to the other and feel the skates transfer edges too. When I've hit some very uncrowded daytime public sessions (e.g. start of 9:30-11:30 weekday session), I've had a blast doing a whole series of back crossover linked half circles the whole length the middle section of the ice and back again - wheee, it feels like flying!

    2. I think my back crossovers are equally good in both directions, but my forward crossovers are weak CW. This is BAD because I'm a CW skater. They are the ones that always show up in my program (when turning forward from landing edges).

      I also think back crossovers are easier to practice than forward crossovers. It seems counter intuitive that back would be easier to do in a crowd, but there is less risk of falling (for me). I'm tenative on my bad forward crossovers, and I don't want to be tenative in a crowd. I'm confident going backwards. In fact- skating backwards I can keep up with almost all of the kids who kick my butt in speed going forward.

  2. So Babbette, you're pushing me outside my comfort zone more than my coach these days! I've been doing "deliberate practice" for a while now, although I didn't realize it had a name. I created a series of different practice agendas based on different themes, mostly to make sure I was maximizing the little bit of skating time I get. I NEVER would've tried doing the hard stuff first. I always start with the easy stuff to get comfortable and build my confidence before moving onto the tough stuff. Based on your ideas, today I started with the hard stuff. Well look at that! It was still hard, but just as do-able as if I'd started with the easy stuff. Added bonus, I ended up practicing the hard stuff longer. This could be the start of some real improvement. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Hooray! Another convert!

      I can feel myself improving on my weak areas, too.