Helping Skaters Move On After Bad Practice or Performance (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh offers insights and suggestions for how coaches can help skaters more quickly process bad skating experiences, from bad practices (or even parts of a practice) to poor competition performances. She notes right at the beginning that progress in skating is often overshadowed by the ups and downs of training and performing, and coaches can really help skaters acknowledge that it’s all simply part of the process. The trick is often finding ways to make them recognize they will get through the tough times, by remembering they already have done so many times before. Also, having skaters refocus on things they are doing well or right or things that will create positive results can be very helpful. She says, “You want to finish it off on a positive note.”

Many skaters have a hard time dealing with poor competition performances. Michelle thinks it’s important to “come up with some sort of ‘why’ before you leave the facility.” If a skater focuses on a reason or reasons for the performance rather than on simply how poor the performance was, it helps with “the healing process” and helps them “leave it behind them.” Michelle cautions coaches, “If you just let them leave [without discussing it], all they’re going to remember are the bad things. They’re just going to keep replaying that.” The goal instead is to learn from the experience and prevent it from happening again. If there isn’t enough time to analyze the performance or speak at length about it with the skater, Michelle recommends at least reminding the skater to think of reasons for why the performance went as it did. Typical reasons include bad patterns (usually for jump setups), being rushed mentally, and being distracted. Providing just these examples will help the skater stop replaying the memory over and over and instead focus on more productive analysis.


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