Last summer was a joyful experience teaching I-SPEAK communication styles in Monument, Colorado at one of Kori Ade’s TAPS (Total Athletic Performance Seminars) programs. For three days I was one of several coaches and teachers who got to interact and have great fun with all of Kori’s team, both skaters and coaches.
Although I was aware that Kori’s program was distinctive and different from other coaches and teams I have worked with over the years, I was not quite prepared for what I found. The environment was one of happiness, support and love. From the youngest preliminary skater to the oldest, who happened to be Jason Brown, everyone appreciated and celebrated one another.
Each skater was hard working and seemed to take total responsibility for their practices and overall training. Everyone participated in the edge classes taught by Rohene Ward every morning. I stood at the back of the line each day and watched with awe at the progressive difficulty of the patterns presented. Of course I was agog at Rohene’s demonstrations. The kids – all of them – not only tolerated this adult skater limping through these challenging moves, but they supported and cheered me on. Support was a theme that ran throughout each day.
When I taught the I-SPEAK program we ran fun and challenging exercises. Each breakout group was geared to help everyone internalize their own communication style as well as understanding that of their friends and coaches. This group got it quickly. They paid rapt attention, asked intelligent questions, and worked with each other to help those who might have had a challenge or two.
It was heartwarming to work with this diverse group. The kids and coaches had so much fun internalizing the concepts of I-SPEAK. By the end of the second day they were applying and identifying the communications skills of others who were not even in the training. They all understood that having the life skill of enhanced communication style understanding would help them increase the rate and degree of learning both on and off of the ice.
During breaks, between off-ice and on-ice sessions, you could find all of the skaters hanging out together laughing and having a grand old time. Everyone seemed to know how to play hard and work hard – but all of it was fun. Jason Brown had this to say about TAPS, “Through the program we all learn that everyone has feelings. What really counts is what we learn about those feelings and how to deal with them. We get to be our true selves with the program allowing us to confront our fears, anxieties, disappointments, successes and competition challenges. The way we support each other is what makes this all so special.”
The TAPS seminars were created by Kori to not only develop well-rounded skaters but to develop life skills to help her students face any challenge thrown their way. Kori explained that she developed the TAPS program years earlier as an integrated and comprehensive on-ice and off-ice endeavor. You can find more information about the TAPS program in the article, The Secret Sauce for Competition Success here.
Kori and Ryan Jahnke created a workbook with TAPS exercises titled, “Game On: a Creative Approach to Coaching”, which can be purchased at the PSA website here: http://ow.ly/P0GmS
The three days flew by. I felt privileged to be a part of the TAPS programs and to watch skaters and coaches alike enhance and effectively use increased communication skills.