Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Class Levels and Defining Progress

Home Rink is switching from ISI Learn to Skate to USFS Basic Skills. I am ecstatic about this. The Basic Skills curriculum just makes so much more sense to me, as it breaks down complex skills into bite-size pieces over a longer period of time. Backspins, jumps, turns, everything is nuggetized very early on, and I think this makes things much easier to learn and process.

This brought up discussions of Class Levels, since I'm taking classes again. Some of the skating parents I chill with think it's great that I might be ISI FS3 before long, but it's hard to convince anybody that this really doesn't mean anything to me. Presuming I pass FS2, which I'm 2 revolutions away from doing, Home Rink would place me in Freeskate 2 when we make the switch.

Thing is, I place myself in Freeskate 1. When we were talking about this in the lobby, a well-meaning coach called this a "demotion." It's nothing of the kind, it's a reality. The Reality is that I don't have Back Outside 3 turns, which are needed to pass Freeskate 1. So, I'm really helping myself by stepping back and learning these basics, preventing more gaps in my skating skills which is how I got into trouble in the first place.

Coach and I worked on BO and BI3's at our last lesson, when I explained my class strategy.

I don't like defining my progress based off of class levels. That's deceptive. It's too easy to fall into the trap of "I did it once, therefore I pass," or thinking that being in a higher level class inherently makes me a better skater. That's just not realistic or safe. I walked into FS1 without ever having been taught proper warmup patterns, and it crippled me for speed for a long time. I'm happy to "demote" myself to learn Back 3's, as 3Turns are in the set of "Must know" skills. Besides, I'm looking forward to completely dominating those little kids with my Advanced Forward Stroking and glorious Edges.

Higher level skills will happen, but without a strong foundation in the basics it's pretty useless. It will absolutely bite you in the ass in the long run. You define your own progress, and the only outside barometer should be your coach. Everything else is supplementary.


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