Motivational Games – Part 1 (Audrey Weisiger)

World and Olympic coach Audrey Weisiger begins a series discussing motivational games for skaters. Audrey acknowledges that progress when learning new skating skills can be brutally slow. The grind of training can take a toll, especially on skaters who are “results-oriented” rather than “process-oriented.” By including games in the learning process, it keeps it fun and provides “results” for skaters to experience success, even during periods off minimal progress in skill development.

In the first game, Audrey prepares by having the skaters write down the elements of their programs on small slips of paper, and have a way to randomize them (picking out of hat, etc).  Audrey then has the skaters thoroughly warm-up off the ice. This means they have warmed up their bodies (body temperature up, heart rate up, mobility through full range of motion, etc) as well as their skills (off-ice jumps, off-ice spins or spin positions, program section walk-throughs, etc). She describes it as, “You do a thorough 20 to 30 minute off-ice warm up where you are physically prepared to tackle any skill that’s in your program.” Once on the ice, the skater picks a random element from the program and executes it without any on-ice warm-up. If successful, the skater continues by picking another element and executing it. If the skater is successful with all elements in the program, they win the game.

Audrey calls the second game “The Keep Trying Game” and this game is a way to help skaters “keep trying” with maximum effort on every element of their program, regardless of what happened on previous elements. In this game, the skaters again have slips of paper for each element/skill in their programs. After warming up (regular on-ice program warm-up, etc), the skaters select a slip of paper but do not look at it until after they skate their program. If they were successful with that specific element or skill, they win the game. Audrey adds motivation to this by offering prizes (such as The Treat Box or The Suitcase). She says, “It’s natural to go ‘ugh’ [after a mistake] but if that skater feels like ‘I don’t know which skill counts for the win’ they’ll keep fighting.”

In a candid “off-camera” discussion, Audrey explains that most skaters believe it’s their hardest skill that will make them win. But sometimes (of not usually) it’s the loss of concentration on something relatively simple that could have made the difference in competition. The Keep Trying Game is a great way to teach and reinforce the idea of staying focused and taking each element, one at a time.


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