Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Invisible Partnership

I have fallen into a perfect partnership between my ice dance coach and my edge coach. And yet they've never met. If they were to meet and form an instructional team, they could probably write their own tickets with adult ice dancers. Yes, together they're that good, and I'm that lucky.

I'm perfectly satisfied with the way Dance Coach teaches me. He focuses on the dance skills, and works to get my basic skating skills, particularly power, up to par. I chose to go this route because fixing my basic skating skills was getting dead boring. I had so many things wrong; I needed something more than just relearning stuff. I needed a motivation.

So I told Dance Coach I wanted to test. Since then he's focused on building my skills around the dance tests. As I wrote about in an earlier post, learning to ice dance is a good introduction to skating.

So Dance Coach is my Macro coach. He's teaching me dance skills and how they fit into a pattern dance. Rather than learn going around in a circle, I'm learning by going the length of the rink, developing my skating skills and my stamina and power at the same time. The lessons are not boring. They are full of variety. It keeps up my interest in skating.

But with Coach Cruella I get a Micro Coach. She is quite willing to work me on a single element for 20 minutes.  Her lessons are focused, exacting, detailed,  and fun. If this was all I was doing, it might be boring. Instead, because her skill building is improving my ice dance, I'm immediately able to translate her coaching lessons directly into my ice dance.
So, Dance Coach is directing me into the skills that have me sweeping across the ice, changing elements with every stroke, building into skills that have me covering the ice with power and fluidity. Coach Cruella is taking elements and breaking them down to the atomic level so that I develop ever precise control over every edge, rocker position, and posture element.

Over the last two months since this invisible partnership formed, my ice dance has leaped forward. Dance Coach hasn't been this happy about my skating since the Big Warmup. My edges are nice and even the scary left inside swingroll has become a deep and powerful curve. My posture is now natural and erect. My power has improved. There's still things to be fixed. There's no perfection in figure skating; but I can see a future where I can get the outside mohawk and the choctaw--and the rocker too!
Rocker Foxtrot

What can I say? I fell luckily into a great partnership with two coaches who don't know each other and never met each other. Right now I feel like the luckiest skater in the world.


  1. Hmm... I'm coming to DC soon. How can I arrange a pair of lessons with your perfect coaching team? I'm only half kidding.

  2. This is FANTASTIC! I have been thinking lately that I need to tell my coach that I need a piece of footwork or some kind of choreography to work on since the individual elements by themselves makes me feel like something is missing. I am inspired by you. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome. I hope it works out for you. Let us know your progress!

  3. Testing through Moves In The Field is a functional way to learn the fundamentals. The test structure is designed just for that--to develop basic skills with emphasis on continous flow and strength, edge quality and extension, and power and speed. MIF also helps you develop a feel for movement patterns--placement of turns and changes of edge, the size and curvature of the lobes you are skating, lining up the axes of your circles, etc. I personally find MIF challenging, engaging, and fun and have a deep appreciation for how spending time on them continually improves my skating skills, posture, and overall confidence on the ice.

    1. Yes, that's true. But I have issues with MITF. I started out with the intention of passing moves, but when they added the spiral into pre-bronze, I quit them after that. Maybe with 6 months of practice and off-ice yoga and physical therapy I could get a passing spiral. Just not that interested in doing it. So I moved on.
      Lots of adults who could manage the footwork but not the spiral (due to injury, age, or joint issues) also quit moves. The fact that an adult might spend a couple of years learning a level then to have the GC change the requirements is another negative.
      MITF--nice in theory. Adult moves--a moving target that doesn't acknowledge adults over ~40 are going to be killed by that spiral.

    2. Yeah, I had to be diligent about practicing that spiral and working on stretches for flexibility. I am testing Adultt Bronze in June and have started learning the patterns for Adult Silver, where spirals make another appearance. This time they are required to be performed in serpentine on an edge. I am lucky to be flexible at 47, but do remember one judge's comment from my Pre- Bronze test that the spiral could be held a tad higher. My coach mentioned that judges tend to be more lenient with adult skaters as they really want to encourage them and see them succeed--I just happened to get a panel of higher-level judges the day I tested because there were lots of skaters testing much higher levels that same day. I hope he is right; his plan for me is to get all the way to Gold Moves, then possibly continue on the standard track, as well as start me on Dance. Yes, I hate the Spirals, but I am determined to pass so I can start on Dance! MIF is my coach's way of ensuring a solid set of skills for Ice Dance, and I notice in hs teaching method with me a constant but gradual tweaking of skills--almost like a subtle way of telling me that "yes, that was fine, but now that you are better, fine is not good enough and you will now do it like this.". I guess I am so new to skating that the changes don't faze me--EVERYTHING about it is scary and hard to me!