Motivating Skaters Reluctant to Work On Specific Skills (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh talks about the very common problem of skaters who avoid working on certain skills that they really need to work on for overall success in their skating. Michelle notes that coaches can really help motivate these skaters to put the effort in by finding a way to make it fun for the skater. As she says, “Think about the best way to get what you want, because there’s a way for you to win and them to win. There’s a way. And it’s different for everyone. You’re trying to always create a win-win situation for everyone…”

She uses the example of a skater who likes to jump but does not like to work on presentation. In that case, she recommends incorporating jumps into the practice time for presentation. She says, “Take what they’re good at and try to bump up and raise the level of what they don’t want to work at or what they consider themselves not to be good at.” The real goal is to get the skater to “buy in” and take responsibility for improving areas of weakness. One great motivational technique is to have skaters try to mimic their favorite elite skaters. Michelle also recommends playing games and even bribing skaters with rewards, since these methods work and it speeds up the process.

For coaches struggling to come up with ways to motivate their skaters, Michelle suggests spending some time when off the ice and away from the skater to focus on it, or simply be aware of any ideas that might come up during other activities. She also recommends asking the skater’s friends and parents for input to better understand the skater or the situation in order to come up with the best approach to motivating her or him.


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