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Visualization Technique #2

Watch and learn

Sometimes you don't have the opportunity to "feel" all of the pieces of a move while working with your coach. Maybe you are in the early stage of learning a new move and you haven't had the opportunity to break it down into its component pieces yet. Or maybe your coach hasn't found the right way to communicate the move techniques to you yet. Maybe you know how to do this move, but your coach is saying that you have to do it a bit differently before you can progress onto the next level, another rotation in your jump, or just better technique in general. Whatever the reason, all you have is a visual reference for this move that you want to get right, and you want to make it your own. This technique is for those times.

The first step is to watch people doing the move correctly a bunch of times. You can search YouTube for the name of the move you want, but that will often give you as many bad attempts as quality examples. One of the things I've found is that searching for videos of tests which skaters passed can help find a move done technically well. Watching top skaters' performances in shows or competitions can also help, though sometimes it's harder to find precisely the move that you need to watch. You can also try a search for "video figure skating how to [move name]" and you may find some very useful videos for this exercise.

Once you have something to watch, spend a good fifteen minutes just watching that move over and over again. Watch it frame by frame if you can. Imagine yourself doing that move. Imagine what it would feel like to move like that.

After you've spent the time watching that move over and over again, close your eyes and imagine yourself doing the move exactly as you've seen it done. Sometimes you'll start out by "seeing yourself" from the outside doing the move just like you saw it in the videos. If that's the case, try to shift your point of view to the first person perspective and imagine yourself moving just like you saw that other skater moving.

Some of my students get frustrated with me at this point and say, "How can I imagine it? I don't know what it feels like. That's the point!" And all I can say is, "Practice, practice, practice."

Your imagination develops as you use it, just like any other skill that you develop. If you take the time to try to imagine what things feel like in between skating sessions, and then feel what things are really like on your skating days, you'll start to develop more skill in imagining the way things feel. Some people will feel silly trying to imagine what something feels like just from watching videos of someone else doing the move, but if you keep at it, you will see results. You will see results both in terms of improving your ability to know what your muscles feel like when they move in certain ways, and you will see results on the ice when your off-ice imaginings develop into faster learning times.

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