Teaching Tips & Learning Activities
The following section reviews information and tips helpful for coaches teaching in the STAR 1-5 Program.
Teaching in the STAR program: The Mission of the Coach
(as per the Skate Canada LTAD Model)
The mission of the coach is to teach the basic sport specific skills and elementary artistic expression essential to participate in the chosen activity. Coaches must also introduce physical conditioning and fundamental mental skills. Sport specific skills are coupled with motor skill development. Coaches should continue to encourage children to be involved in several sports in the early part of this stage.
While the skater’s parent(s)/guardians(s) will act as her/his manager in this stage, the coach will act as the director of development. Coaches have the option to train as a technical specialist but are also responsible for regular assessments and evaluations of a skater’s progression. Coaches have the ability to teach/transfer information in a manner appropriate to age, gender and an ability to teach good skill technique.
All coaches potentially train world-class athletes but simply at a different stage of their development. Therefore, coaches of athletes in this stage of development need to understand figure skating at a level far beyond that at which their skaters may currently perform so they can provide relevant training at the appropriate time in preparation for the skater’s future. Coaches should always be able to provide a rationale for why they are teaching a certain skill or concept and how they are using the skater’s time.
Please visit LEARN TO TRAIN in the SKATE CANADA LTAD MODEL for a comprehensive list of skill acquisition expected at the exit phase of this stage.
The suggested quantity and frequency of ON ICE training at this level is as follows: (as per our LTAD Model)
COACH DIRECTED TIME
The suggested percentage of coach directed time vs individual practice is as follows:
Advantages of coach directed time at this level:
- The development of quality technique
- Coaches to direct the skater’s focus on the basics in all areas to provide a foundation for future learning
- Skaters are taught how to practice before being expected to practice on their own
- Coaches can create an environment that is non-threatening, challenging and engaging
Coach directed time and/or group lessons at this stage of development have proven to be the most effective for skill acquisition and social development. It offers a cooperative, encouraging and motivating environment for the learner. It also allows for the maximum opportunity for the skaters to be under a coach’s direction during this “the golden age of learning”.
Training Strategies to increase Coach Directed time:
Coaches are encouraged to use a variety of teaching strategies to engage the skater’s interest and different learning styles. Below are examples of how you can incorporate various strategies into multiple delivery formats on your session. This is a guide only. Many coaches will discover new ways to offer topics. Regardless of the format you choose, always consider the following:
- Ensure your delivery format encourages strong technique and growth
- Rotate delivery methods to allow a variety of intensities, focus and ice usage.
Many of the strategies below lend themselves to a class type environment however some can be used in an individual practice scenario as well. Coaches and clubs are encouraged to use many different formats to deliver programming throughout their season.
For examples of specific content, see STAR 1-5 On and Off Ice Strategies
The following information may be used to assist coaches in the delivery of the STAR 1-5 program.
Identifying the dominant rotational direction for skaters:
Determining which way a skater should rotate can be an easy task for some skaters, and more challenging for others. Generally, skaters will tend to use their dominant rotation direction for most rotational skills early in their development. These skills will display one direction that is acquired quicker and with more confidence. For skaters who seem to turn both ways with the same ease, the following tips may help:
- Have the skater skate away from you. Call the skater back or have them touch the boards and come back. Observe which direction they naturally turned to reverse their direction.
- Off the ice, instruct the skater to jump up and turn a half turn or full turn in the air. Observe their natural direction. Ask them to jump the opposite direction for the same exercise. Compare.
- Ask the skater to demonstrate all 4 forward 3-turns and observe for a direction that is done with more confidence.
Key Words are an excellent tool to assist coaches in reinforcing the key points for any lesson. When key words are used correctly, the skaters will use them to remind themselves of the timing, rhythm or technique needed to execute the skill correctly. Key words can be identified for any skill.
Waltz Jump: “Hold….” (to indicate a strongly held BO edge entry) “Down…” (to indicate a solid knee bend on the FO take off edge), “Kick…” (to indicate the free foot passing the take off toe and extending for a good air position), “Land…” (to indicate a strong landing position)
Adding variety to the schedule or session plan can help keep the energy in the training season.
- Offering a time slot on a certain day that can service different needs.
- Example: 5:00 – 5:30 every Thursday, each week could be a different focus
- Week 1: Power Class
- Week 2: Spin Session
- Week 3: Creative Movement
- Week 4: Simulation
- Week 5: Challenge Day
- Week 6: Jump Technique
- Week 7: Field Move Class
- Example: 5:00 – 5:30 every Thursday, each week could be a different focus
Variety can also be offered within an actual session itself. Offering different delivery formats can help keep the skaters engaged and allow for many forms of coach directed time.
Example: Monday Session 5:00 to 6:00 pm
- Week 1: 5:00 – 5:20 pm Edge/Turn Class, 5:20 – 5:50 pm Group Lessons, 5:50 – 6:00 pm Field Move Class
- Week 2: 5:00 – 5:15 pm Power Class, 5:15 – 5:45 pm Jump Stations, 5:45 – 6:00 pm Spin Session
- Week 3: 5:00 – 5:10 pm Warm Up Class, 5:10 – 5:50 pm Stations posted for skaters to use in practice time while coaches give private/semi private lessons, 5:50 – 6:00 pm Creative Movement class
Ensuring there is an element of FUN in the training schedule is key to keeping the skaters motivated, interested and encouraging a strong club or team morale. Some ideas include:
- FUN Days to allow skaters to dress up or participate in activities throughout the year
- Incentive programs (see INCENTIVE section for ideas)
- Variety of session planning
- Surprise days
- Team Challenges within a session (to compliment the mission of the training period)
Allowing time in the schedule for skaters to have fun on the ice will encourage growth and expand comfort levels as well as contribute to club pride and morale.
Use Peer Coaching
Peer coaching is a term used to describe skaters helping skaters. This can be a great strategy to:
- Establish relations between higher level and lower level skaters
- Encourage confirmation of learning. When skaters have to explain or teach another skater a skill, it allows them to reconfirm technique and analyze how they achieve success.
Exercises or drills is a term used to describe a predetermined set of movements that are used to reinforce technique or development for skill acquisition. Exercises or drills can be used as a warm up routine or as a corrective measure. Examples include:
- Back Spin drills to assist with rotational axis awareness
- Back spin with a jump out
- Back spin that opens and closes several times in the same spin
Coaches can create exercises or drills for many different things or aspects of our sport.
- Power (pushing, knee action)
- Jump Technique (to increase height, get comfortable with toe take offs, etc)
- Jump Technique (to increase comfort level with rotating axis)
- Field Moves,
- And more
Using all disciplines to strengthen the skater’s ability:
Exposing skaters to all 3 disciplines in the same training plan will allow skaters to develop a well rounded skill repertoire that will serve as a foundation for acceleration in our sport.
Skills will be the foundation for both freeskate and dance as it contains all essential pushes, turns and power skills.
Freeskate will introduce skaters to many concepts in spins and jumps.
Dance will encourage power, timing and carriage. This will strengthen both the freeskate and skills components as well.
Using different ways to say the same thing
When delivering lessons, be sure to use cues that will appeal to different types of learning.
Key words and descriptive words will assist the auditory learners.
Exaggerated demonstrations and videos will assist the visual learners.
Teaching aids that need to be held, walk-throughs and body placement will assist the kinesthetic learners.
Finding different ways to say the same thing will be beneficial to your teaching as it will expand the presentation of any one skill. The more ways you can find to communicate the mission of your lesson, the more opportunities you will give to your skaters to learn.
Teaching aids in the STAR program
Coaches want to ensure their skaters are being exposed to as many different learning styles as possible throughout the STAR program. Using teaching aids will help coaches transfer information, provide kinesthetic and visual strategies and add variety to lessons. Below are some ideas of how to incorporate teaching aids into the STAR program lessons.
Coaches and clubs are encouraged to add incentives and challenge programming to their delivery and format. Adding incentives will bring awareness to quality development and encourage skaters to push their limits.
Below are some ideas of incentive and challenge programs that could be implemented into a session. Coaches and clubs are welcome to use any of these ideas or create their own.
It is recommended that coaches and clubs choose different incentives for different time periods of the training calendar that directly relate to the purpose of the preparation in that time period. Example: Toot your Horn is an excellent program to be placed in the weeks leading up to an important event or competition.
Example of a SPIN BINGO Card (STAR 4 or 5 level skater):