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World's best practice
Written by Tim Grafton May 2011
World's best practice means that if the U.S / Russian / Japanese / Canadian athletes and coaches are doing something or going about training in a certain way and that is producing world beating results, then that is what needs to be done.
World's best practice has been applied to many industries and sports globally, this page talks about applying it to skating.
Now in Australia researching World's best practice often means traveling to countries that are far, far away, in Europe, Canada , US etc, but for figure skating in Ontario it means just down the road at Mariposa , Quebec and Strathroy and a few other places. The information is not even that hard to get as it is presented at many workshops and seminars with Canada 's and the US's top coaches.
There are many things that a skating club can adopt and implement, these include implementing new training programs, buying and updating equipment, coach training and recruitment.
So what I want to see is clubs and coaches adopt some or more "World best practices" that have been presented at workshops and seminars by World and International coaches mostly from Canada and the US. If the information is not readily available in reports bought back by coaches that attend these seminars then this can easily be researched, after all it's just a quick drive down the road, not a 20k plane flight like it is in Australia.
Some of these things are not difficult to do, they do not require difficult changes and some are not expensive for a club.
Off ice jumping
An example of a World’s best practice would be that : Joanne McLeod says she teaches every jump off ice first before on ice. Many World and International coaches believe that teaching jumps off ice in classes and in warm ups helps accelerate on ice performance, skaters get their jumps faster and stronger if they do off ice jumping on a regular basis.
Many clubs have started to implement off ice jump classes, but there is room for improvement in these classes as there is no off ice jump curriculum or standards, Skating associations should be striving to develop an off ice Jump class curriculum. Many coaches do not support their skaters attending off ice jump classes, few coaches have any experience or training in off ice class classes. Coaching courses should include comprehensive training in off ice jump classes. there is an off ice jump curriculum that I typed up myself on this web site, please feel free to use it.
Off ice jump classes & training is 'Worlds Best Practice".
It is not just for competitive skaters, recreational skaters who want to land their jumps sooner and stronger can benefit.
Use of video and video analysis
Joanne McLeod says jumping is Science and without video you cannot see the fine detail, her video camera is with her all the time, therefore to implement this on a club wide basis it requires the purchase of a video analysis system, at the least coaches should carry with them when they coach, a video camera or digital camera that takes video and plays it back frame by frame. I use both a video analysis system based on a notebook computer and a video camera and I also use a digital camera for coaching the lower levels.
You might recall that Patrick Chan just set a world record as far as points in his short program, freekskate and overall in the World championships 2011. The coach that worked with him to get his Quad's is of course Kristy Krall. Kristy is a pioneer in computer video analysis, please see the information on the main page about the Dartfish system she uses. There is no doubt that this scientific approach to coaching jumps paid off big time for Patrick Chan, this is a good example of 'Worlds best practice'.
Use of video is 'World's best Practice".
Kathy Casey (World and Olympic coach), says "A double Axel is always done on a pole harness in the early stages", this is to avoid fear developing in the early stages. More coaches should be educated on how to use a pole harness, female coaches can use them as well.
Use of a harness is 'World's best Practice".
World class jump technique
Jumping on ice is science, sure there are some supple differences, for example a Salchow or toe loop can be entered from a 3 turn or mohawk, but really there is only one scientifically correct jump technique. The technique taught by the top world and International coaches is pretty much the same and scientifically correct. It also is no secret, this technique is freely given and shared with all skaters and coaches that attend seminars presented by these top World and International coaches.
The jump technique used by most world and Olympic coaches is 'Worlds Best Practice".
As a contrast, most coaches teach jumps the way they were taught by their own coaches, this technique may be 10, 20 or even 30 years out of date.
At the least, coaches should be striving to use “World’s best practice” when they coach and support these practices with the clubs that they coach at, coaches can learn ‘Worlds best practice” by attending seminars and workshops hosted by world and international coaches.
Talent identification and facilitation
This comes in various forms, in it's most extreme has been the examples set by Eastern block countries after the 2nd World war up until these countries left the communist system. There is no doubt that this system produced results as shown by the many Olympic medals won.
On a club level at a minimum it means identifying skaters who have natural ability in the early stages of learning to skate, In Canada this should be around stage 3 of CanSkate. It then means encouraging the parents to register their kids at least twice a week for learn to skate classes, buying good quality figure skates and hiring a coach for private lessons in addition to the learn to skate/CanSkate/Aussie skate classes. Once the parents are willing to meet these requirements it is up to the club (at a minimum) to group these talented skaters into one group in the learn to skate classes. If the club wants to do more then they could assign their best competitive coach to this talented group. After the skaters in this program graduate from skate school then they could be offered a continuation of group lessons, off ice jump and flexibility classes and other other ice classes such as dance and fitness training. A competitive coach could also be assigned to manage this group of talented skaters.
Talent identification and facilitation is ‘Worlds best practice”.
A summary of "World's Best Practices" that I use in coaching figure skating are :-