The May 20 – 23 annual PSA Conference was exceptional. The fabulous staff, as usual, worked to coordinate all of the details so that the conference went off without a hitch. While all the sessions provided great information and perspective here are a few of my favs.
Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson generously shared their thoughts on the, “Formula for a Champion.” The comradery in the Cricket Club was a mainstay of their talk. The coaches work well together and truly champion every skater in the rink. The parents play a large role in coordinating things and setting the positive tone. One coach in the audience posed this question to Brian, “How do you deal with your athletes when they are going through puberty?” Brain gave that big school boy grin and said, “I give them to Tracy!”
These two incredible coaches offer high-level tips and training sharing their love of the sport around the entire rink. They offer group stroking classes that pay attention to proper alignment, extension and posture. They frequently play music that they want their skaters to emote to. “If it’s beautiful lyrical music than we want our skaters to put their chins up, keep their shoulders down and move to this music gracefully,” Tracy added.
The skaters in their rink give huge respect to the many current elite skaters at the rink including Yuzuru Hanyu, Javier Fernandez, Nam Nguyen. But in turn these athletes support, respect and cheer on every other skater in the rink. Brian shared, “Elite skaters can get into this strange intense world. The rink environment is so critical to creating a strong foundation that they can relate to.”
Chris Snyder of the U.S. Olympic Committee presented a fascinating discussion about the neuroscience of learning. He shared information with the skaters about how coaches might coach and how skaters learn. Chris shared his favorite John Wooden quote, “You haven’t taught until they have learned.” He reinforced how to create the best possible learning environment – keep it positive. He added that if a skater is processing corrections in their emotional center they lose focus on their higher order thinking and skill performance.
Chris’s concepts folded in so well with David Benzel from Growing Champions for Life. David echoed some of Chris’ concepts in his own unique way stating that negative reinforcement can eliminate a bad habit, such as kicking the ice, but only positive reinforcement can create the optimal environment for learning and executing knowledge.
Finally, I’d like to highlight the amazing spin class taught on ice by coach Bobbe Shire. She is a renowned Olympic-level spin coach. Bobbe provided great details on the five aspects of the spin from entrance to hooking it correctly, to feeling the body’s presence on the ice and the surrounding energy, which she calls “George”, centering the spin and exiting with style. To see a quick overview of her technique click on this I-Coach Skating video: http://icoachskating.com/bobbe-shire-spinning-in-5-steps/ Oh, is it worth those few moments of viewing time.
The awards ceremonies were so great – it is always a treat to see so many coaches and contributors to our sport called out and acknowledged. The winners will be posted on the PSA website soon.