A little over six months ago, right after I completed my second winter show program, my coach came to me with some news. She was moving to Colorado in a week (her husband had a new job) and unless I was also moving to Colorado (spoilers: I wasn’t), I would need to get a new coach. It was a little bit of a shock at first as she was the only I had ever had since I picked up skating seriously two years ago, and I was nervous that someone new wouldn’t be a good fit.
My coach did everything she could to make the transition of her leaving as smooth as possible for me and all of her other students. She talked to other coaches at the rink and found one who she thought would fit my goals as an adult skater (competing as well as moves in the field tests) and was willing to take me on. Two weeks after my former coach left for Colorado, I started with my new coach.
The moment you start working with someone new, everything you were working on with someone else is immediately put under scrutiny. My new coach knew who I was, had seen me at the rink, but she didn’t know my skating abilities. We went through the basics (forward and backward crossovers, edges, stroking, etc.) all the way through the new skills I had been working on (loop jumps and backspins), and then she evaluated and determined how we would move forward.
Her assessment wasn’t one that I liked or wanted to hear. To start, we weren’t going to compete this year, even though I had a program ready to go and that had been the plan with my former coach. Instead, we were going to call this season a rebuild. We were going to start over on some things like two-foot spins and one-foot spins, and we were going to correct skills that I had somehow learned bad habits on over my time skating (like dropping my foot after the three-turn before a Salchow).
For one of my first lessons, we worked on waltz jumps, but not the jump itself. We went back to the very beginning and spent almost the entire lesson working on how to glide and jump off the toe pick from the right edge. Another lesson, we worked on backward crossovers and focused specifically on me sitting further back on my heels when completing the motion. Another lesson we spent what felt like the entire lesson working solely on the three turn entrance to my Salchow. Nit-picking and nit-picking at all of my skating techniques were how so many of my early lessons with my new coach went. We broke down almost every skating skill I had learned into the small components that make them up in order to fix a part of them. It was tedious. There were moments where I felt like I was going backward and it was frustrating.
But, I didn’t give up. No matter how frustrating getting the criticism was, I kept working. I practiced harder and on more specific things like my new coach had shown me, and finally, I’m seeing that it’s worth it.
Having that new coaching perspective on my skating really allowed me to grow as a skater in ways that I wasn’t sure I would ever reach. I’ve become a stronger and faster skater and I feel more confident when I take the ice. My jumps are higher. And I’m finally able to do a scratch spin, which I was convinced would never happen.
I had forgotten what it was like to have to work on skills until I could do them in my sleep. I had become so accustomed to learning a new skill and then quickly moving to learn another. This isn’t to say that my former coach was a bad one. Quite the opposite in fact. She was amazing and just what I needed when I started skating. I’m still sad that I don’t get to work with her. But, my new coach brings something to the table that pushes me further. Something I hadn’t realized I needed until I was forced into the change.
Sometimes what’s easy and comfortable isn’t always what you need to succeed. Sometimes you need someone to point out every single mistake you make because it only makes you better when you come out the other side. Sometimes you have to learn that starting over doesn’t mean failure, it’s just a change in perspective on what success means. That’s what I learned from this experience, and what I continue to learn every time I have a lesson with my new coach and she points out something I’m doing wrong on a skill that I’ve been doing for the last two years.