Some coaches and athletes feel they are beyond the basics. They know better.
Athletes learn the individual skills in “Bunnies School,” then graduate.
“I am a competitive coach. I work on tactics and game situations.”
These coaches believe that competitive players, starting with the U-14 age group, don’t need to “dwell” on things best left to “Bunnies School.”
Ever heard of Dr. Kelly Lockwood and Laura Stamm?
Dr. Lockwood presented a study at the 2011 Ontario Ringette Association (ORA) annual general meeting in Kingston. She conducted the study with athletes from the ORA’s Canada Winter Games team (Halifax, 2012), representing the top Belle-aged players in Ontario.
Dr. Lockwood is an expert in skating. She runs the Skating Lab at Brock University.
One of the things she noted at the ORA meeting was the notion that coaches will say: “skate harder, longer, and faster” yet with little regard to proper technique.
Laura Stamm, well known author of “Power Skating,” strongly encourages proper skating technique first. Then and only then, strive for speed and effort.
Dr. Lockwood told us that if a player skates using an awkward shuffle step, then going faster means the athlete will only shuffle faster. Not the way to build good technique and establish lasting habits.
Laura Stamm and Dr. Lockwood both have something in common: they have specialized in skating technique, working with professional athletes.
Even the pros don’t skate as well as they could.
Ringette athletes never graduate from “Bunnies School.”
A national calibre coach who coached a local Junior AA team would tell me, “I make no assumptions about the skills of my players. I make my own observations and decide what they need to work on – including basic skating skills.”
There is much written about the Ringette Skills Matrix, and its inspiration from the Long Term Athlete Development Model.
I love the Skills Matrix.
It makes a “mark in the ice” showing what skills are needed in the sport. The matrix takes the guessing out of the game for new coaches trying to understand what is important to teach.
I applaud the Ontario Ringette Association and its local associations in putting together DVD videos for evaluators, coaches, and local associations to use when assessing skills in young players.
Coaches in the U-14 category and above would be well advised to get familiar with these skills, and make sure that your ringette athletes are not missing something they may have missed in “Bunnies School.”