Ice Skating Environment

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San Diego Figure Skating Communications
  
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A Positive Enviroment
for Adult Skaters -
Recreation & Competitive Opportunities


Creating a positive Environment for Adult Skaters
     There is an emphasis on developing younger athletes in all winter and summer Olympic sports. Many athletes who begin as an elementary school student, continue to participate in these sporting activities during and after college.  Some  athletes cease  participation while attending college and resume after they  have secured a job in their career area.

     Too many athletes become "burnt out" from intensely pursuing their desire to become elite athlete and completely cease their involvement in the sport, never to even become involved as a parent of a child who wants to participate in winter sports. There unfortunately are a few who revive their aborted sports career through their children.

     The typical adult who participates in winter sports as a child and eventually continues as an adult does so with a much higher technical skating potential than an adult who begins to learn to skate after graduation from college and must fit a daily training regime into a full time work and family schedule.

     The USFS has developed the Collegiate Skating Program for students attending college full-time to allow them to skate against other skaters with similar skill sets and age grouping - namely passing standard MITF, Free Skating, Pair, Compulsory dances, and free dance tests. After college, skaters can begin to compete in adult competitions -  the minimum age to compete as an adult is 21. There are championship events for these athletes who have high levels of skills.

PDF   2011 Midwestern Adult Sectional Championship Announcement

Revised Adult Championships Announcement.  April 12-16, 2011  Salt Lake City Sports Complex, 645 Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108.

Note: An International Adult Figure Skating Competition will take place in Oberstdorf (GER) June 8 to 11, 2011, hosted by the Deutsche Eislauf-Union. The competition will be for adult skaters who have reached at least the age of twenty eight (28) and Synchronized Skating at least the age of twenty five (25) before July 1st, preceding the event but have not reached the age of seventy-five (75) before July 1st, preceding the competition. For full details see announcement.

Announcement Adult Figure Skating Competition 2010/11
Adult Compulsory Dances 2011/2012/2013 Season
Adult Figure Skating Competition 2010/11  Entry Forms

     There are adult MITF, Free Skating, Pair, Compulsory dances, and free dance tests. These tests have  a lower skill threshold and accordingly are passed with significantly lower passing marks than the standard USFS test.

Adult Sports Participation Varies
     In contact physical sports such as football, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, platform diving, etc. there are limited opportunities to participate as a recreational athlete in the sport after being involved in high level competitive events while attending college or participating as a professional athlete.

     The list of sports that are very popular among adult recreational athletes include: golf, tennis, boating, skiing, biking, running, etc..

     A skater's age is not a limiting factor for acquiring new skills and enhancing the performance of established skills unless the basic technique is flawed and preventing improvement. As a person ages, the confidence level of the individual can decline unless there is ample practice time to convert newly acquired skills into automatic memory muscle/nerve responses.

Less Opportunities to Train as an Adult
     Adult Skaters usually are less likely to be able to skate on a regular basis because of scheduling conflicts with their job, parental obligations, and ice schedules of the local rink.

     It is the successful repetition of a figure skating program on a regular basis (5 or more sessions per week) that enhances a skater's ability to perform at their best level and have the strength/endurance to finish as strong as they had started. Last minute changes tend to be forgotten under the stress (pressure) of competing in front of an audience.

     Many times the adult skater has a problem with performance anxiety performing elements scheduled in their program, which diverts the attention of the skater from performing each element's performance as it is choreographed in the program. Sometimes this is described as a lack of concentration; however, in fact it is the failure to complete each item on the check list, in the proper order, that wastes the months of practice and lessons from the choreographer.

     The inability to execute a jump, spin, or footwork sequence frequently causes inexperienced skaters to allow this omission to drain them of their positive energy. This usually results in the elements that follow to also be poorly performed. It is easy to say to the skater "ignore the error and put it behind you". In reality it is difficult to actually put the performance of each element out of your mind and concentrate on just the next element. 

Preparation helps to Minimize the Occurrence of Performance Errors.
     Practice runs through a program, without stopping if an error occurs, is necessary to provide the experience to the skater to learn how to recover so they can practice learning how to code if a mistake occurs during an actual competition.

     When a skater performs a difficult element exceedingly well, they can allow their high excitement level to blow their concentration and the following performance of jumps, spins, and footwork that they always perform flawlessly in practices and previous competitions.

     Athletes who learn to skate as a youngster have an advantage if they wish to play hockey, speed skate, and figure skate as an adult.

     Individuals who skated as a youngster have an advantage in being able to continue to maintain a high level of their skills into adult life compared to adults who first learn to skate after graduating from college.  The later someone starts to skate, the less likely they are able to achieve the full potential that existed if they were learning as a child. The basic problem confronting adults is the lack of convenient practice times before starting work or after completing work. 

     Typically rinks are not offering as many open ice or public sessions in 2011 on weekday afternoons and evenings as they did twenty years ago. To have a guaranteed revenue stream and reduce risk, rink managers have tended to prefer to sell the ice in large blocks of time annually or for as many weeks, preferably months, as possible.

Adults Need to Contract to Secure Sessions
     Adults figure skaters, generally lack enough skaters single rink to form a group to collectively rent the ice as hockey and synchro teams find necessary.  Many adults do not find late night or early morning sessions acceptable, thus complicating the process of agreeing to contract for specific time for an extended period of time.
 
     In our complicated and hectic lives of adults, the time and distance from home to the rink and from the rink to their job adds another factor complicating finding time than enough adult skaters will support to make the process economically viable. The time of day and the direction (with or against the normal traffic flow) determines the amount of traffic that is encountered and consequently the elapsed travel time is more important that the actual distance driven except in the cost of gas.

     There is no doubt that regular practice sessions, on and off the ice, produce the best results for young children and adult skaters. Parents drive their children to the rink and school, allowing the child to finish their homework or catch a few extra minutes of  sleep. Adults must depend on their own resources to get up, have something to eat (or coffee), and rive to the rink in sufficient time to warm-up and be full alert when practicing and especially during a lesson.

Over Confidence and Over Estimation of Abilities
     A frequent problem for all athletes is over estimating their preparedness and then experiencing stage fright or a panic attack when performing in a test or competition environment.  Athletes need to understand the value of the process of peaking over several months. The addition of extra practice sessions, prior to a test or competition, can actually aggravate an injury and cause a reduction in performance or even force the athlete to withdraw from a competition.  This process is defined as over training and has been reported to affect athletes of all ages and in all sports.

     Establishing a realistic schedule and sticking to it will result in progress, even when allowing time to work though periodic plateaus that are a normal part of a training program. It is extremely important to maintain a positive outlook and consult a physician to deal with physical problems and prolonged periods of depression that may be related to school, job, home, or sports.

     Participation in sports should be fun and the physical experience uplifting. The social interactions at training sessions should not involve excessive competitiveness on a continuing basis as this transfers the purpose of competing from achieving your personal best into beating all other competitors at any cost.

Recommended Reading:


Sports Medicine for Ice Skating and Ice Hockey
Recreational ice skating can be a good sport, and is a reasonable ... other types of protective equipment, such as wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads 

References:
  
Choreography and Artistic Performances

High School & College Club JV & Varsity Skating Teams
  
  
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

  
USFS Test Judging Topics
PDF  IJS Handbook
PDF  Judges Singles & Pairs Training Manual New  Evaluation of Jumps
PDF  Chart of Changes to MITF  9/2/2010 PDF  2011 USFS Tests Book 8/27/10
PDF  A need for Test Program Element Sheet
PDF  USFS Compulsory Figures Rules
PDF  Focus Points: Evaluate Tests
Roles of Skating Judges and Coaches
Discussion of MITF Topics
New & Revised MITF Elements
Critiquing Skating Performances
Requirements to Pass MITF
MITF Judging Criteria
Critique Sheets
Basic Skating Judging Protocols
Basic Skills Judging Competitions
Worksheets & References for Judges
Test and Elite Standards
A Positive Environment for Adult Skaters
Focus of Free Skating Test Judging
Interpreting 6.0 Score Sheets
School Figures
   

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