The words that matter
Winding down another bootcamp collab with Missy Rascal, edge-loving skills instructor extraordinaire, and reflecting on the two days of non-stop skills action and all the cool skaters I got to meet. I love watching skaters really start to understand their skates and to figure out how they can work with them and within them.
Every time I coach with Missy, I learn new ways to explain movement and the cause and effect of a small physical shift on whatever skill a skater is aiming to achieve. I gain confidence in the implicit confirmation of my analysis of form when I find myself correcting the same body quirks and weight distribution as she does three skaters down from me.
I know the big things, the talking points, the buzz works, the crotch weight versus 'nose, nipple, knee' and I know lots of little things too. However many years of watching skaters battle their own bodies and brains, you start to figure it out, even if you can't articulate it. But I find that when I listen closely, Missy systematically removes impasses to achievement that I never even realised existed.
I remember how I learned to skate and the process I took in learning to coach others to skate. We all get there in the end. We learn intuitively where the weight goes and we wait for the day that our underpush "clicks" into place.
A certain D1 team, all insanely talented skaters, spent an off season stripping back their skills to focus on improving their edges because they'd all learned to skate without controlling them and when they got to that level of gameplay, they needed that control. They had to go back and get it.
A lot of coaches I know, we often tell our skaters, "it's just practice" or "you have to find that sweet spot".
Missy Rascal does a lot of explaining when she coaches. The first time we coached together I swear she spoke more in the first hour than in the entire time I'd known her... maybe about five years... When I went up to her after and said as much, she just said, 'I save up for the words that matter'.
How amazing would it be if all us coaches had the words that mattered, the ones that make it all just a bit easier, a bit faster, and a bit less frustrating for new skaters to "get it".
How many more skaters would be keep in the sport? How much better would those skaters be? How much better would our sport be?