Jumps – Common Coaching Challenges (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh discusses 3 distinct issues that coaches face when working on jumps with their skaters. The first issue is when skaters simply don’t seem willing to set aside any time off the ice to watch video of successful (elite) skating. Michelle explains that skaters can learn so much from simply watching good skating and she encourages all of her skaters to watch video. As she explains, young skaters often like watching video of themselves, but coaches can still encourage them to watch certain video of elite athletes they can model. And once a skater starts being interested in watching skating video, it shows they are serious about their training and willing to take more responsibility for it.

The second issue that almost all coaches face with their skaters is the inevitable loss of jumps (or other skills). Double and especially triple and quad jumps require tremendous precision for consistency, so it’s not surprising that skaters tend to ‘lose’ these jumps fairly regularly. To minimize losing jumps, Michelle recommends continuing to have skaters perform exercises and drills that helped get the jump in the first place. And if a skater does lose a jump, remind them that the process you used before worked, and simply use that process again.

Another common issue experienced by coaches is when a skater begins believing they have mastered a jump (or other element) but in reality, they are not showing signs of consistency and mastery. In these situations, Michelle suggests caution as a coach, especially since this situation usually means skaters are taking more responsibility for directing their skating and training. She wants to encourage that, and will allow some independence. With this independence, skaters often start to recognize their own lack of consistency. Obviously, if a coach has been patient and further neglect of a jump or other skill will cause long term damage, the coach must step in and help the skater get clarity.


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