Mental and Emotional Training for Figure Skating (Kori Ade)

Olympic coach Kori Ade shares one of the secrets of her skaters’ success.  Most coaches focus strictly on skating technique and physical development with some emphasis on musicality or artistic movement.  But very few coaches address the emotional and mental aspects of developing champion figure skaters.

Editor’s note:  Kori has an amazing relationship with her skaters.  To understand how close she is with her skaters and why they love her, see Jason Brown’s letter to Kori.  Jason is a perfect example of a skater who was uncomfortable enough competing that he wanted to stop.  But with the right training and self-awareness, Jason has turned into one of the most popular competitors in the world.

This video offers an intimate glimpse into Kori’s “Saturday Competitive Team Program” that she does regularly with all of her competitive skaters.  Kori explains how the program developed and what the vision for the program is.  And although this video was taken while Kori was still teaching in the Chicago area and she is no longer at this facility, the tour she gives still provides insights into why and how Kori runs this program.  She explains that a facility like this is not necessary and she mentions a few of the facilities she has used in the past to hold these sessions (gymnasiums, lobbies, locker rooms, cafeterias, classrooms, etc).

After Saturday morning on-ice practice on non-competition and non-holiday weekends, Kori requires her skaters to participate in this seminar.  In this video, Kori’s skaters break up into 3 groups and rotate through 3 different activities.  One activity is theater-related which is great for letting go of self-conscious worries and beliefs that hold many skaters back.  The second activity is dance-related and you see in the video this particular class is focused on rhythm and creating movements to match rhythm.  Sometimes an art class is substituted for the dance or theater classes.  All of these provide an outlet for developing creativity and self-awareness.

The third activity is what Kori calls Total Athlete Performance Seminars or TAPS.  Some of the topics she mentions include nutrition, goal setting, “light” sports psychology, and random topics that Kori finds inspiring in bookstores, newspaper, magazines, and other sources.  (How many skaters even know what an “epiphany” is?)  TAPS is a way for Kori to help her skaters dig deeper to understand more fully what they want and how they’re going to get it.  Building this self-awareness is crucial for developing athletes that are comfortable competing and training at a very high level.

At the end of the video, Kori spends a few moments explaining some of the logistical details of punch cards.  She also explains why this program is mandatory for all of her competitive skaters.  (The skaters love it.  Mandatory attendance ensures the parents bring their kids!)


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