Pandemic Insights for Coaches Interview – Part 1 (Michelle Leigh)

In this video series, iCoachSkating founder Trevor Laak interviews World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh regarding her thoughts and recommendations during the coronavirus lockdown. Michelle works with competitive skaters at many levels, and her ideas and approaches to a variety of issues may help many coaches during this challenging time.

Check out all the videos in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Michelle’s primary focus at this stage is simply to keep skaters engaged. Although she is not giving off-ice classes or private lessons, her club offers many options for it’s skaters. She emphasized the need to stay connected, typically via Zoom and social media.  Her club runs “little competitions” to help keep morale up, and she explains examples of these contests and their benefits.

Her higher level skaters already have new programs, while some of her lower level skaters don’t have new programs in place just yet. For those with programs, Michelle recommends that they put on their music and do their best to run the program off the ice. Her skaters just have to find time and work around online stretching and jump classes. For conditioning, she recommends continuous skipping for the duration of the program.

One positive that’s come from this situation is some of the older skaters have stepped up with leadership and really inspired the younger skaters. Not surprisingly the younger skaters have required more parental involvement, but most of the more advanced skaters are pretty self-sufficient. Michelle has found it interesting to see the various effort levels for her advanced skaters, and notes that some, if not most, are struggling with the overall uncertainly of the situation. Michelle says, “I think the toughest thing for me to deal with is to try to keep the hope alive somehow, that there is going to be a season, that we’ll get back to the rink, and back to competing.”

Michelle and her skaters have been using WhatsApp and texting as a way to share information and motivation.


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