Written By: 2018-19 Miami University Senior Varsity Synchronized Skating and U.S. DREAM Synchro Member, Bailey Styzinski
As the 2018-2019 synchronized skating season begins, skaters across the country are preparing for monitoring sessions to increase competitive success.
For Junior and Senior level teams named to the International Selection Pool (ISP), October means International Monitoring. Teams nominated to the ISP are lucky to have judges and technical specialists visit their practices and give feedback to help them improve before the official start of their competitive season. Junior and Senior level teams aren’t the only levels that have access to monitoring sessions, though. Whether your coach invites a judge or technical specialist to observe your practice, or you sign up for a monitoring session offered at a competition, it is very likely your team will have a monitoring session. Here are some tips to help prepare you for monitoring sessions and help you and your team maximize your time in front of your monitors:
1. You don’t have to be perfect.
Every team has an October (or November). One of the things I love about synchronized skating is that our programs are built for us to grow in to. You might not have every last head down, and your team might not be pushing the pattern of your program(s) all the way out to the walls, but that’s ok! Monitoring is about working through issues—not being perfect.
2. Be 100% committed to everything you do.
Chances are, everyone is not going to be completely positive on where your head is supposed to be turned on count two of your second set of eight in your pivoting line. But, if everyone does what they think the head is supposed to be with confidence, it will be a lot easier for your monitors to point differences out to your coaches. They want to see you give each element all you’ve got so they get a good sense of what your program(s) will look like when it is Nationals-ready.
3. Don’t be nervous, they’re there to help you.
I used to be so intimidated by monitoring sessions because it was hard for me to get past the set of monitors giving my team feedback. Especially because those monitors would probably be judging us at competitions later in the season. It’s so important to remember that the monitors are really there to be as helpful as possible to your coaches and team. Take advantage of their expertise and experience! Everything they say is to help you and your team take your program to the next level.
4. Really listen to what the monitors have to say.
Between each section or full-run you perform for your monitors, the monitors will probably give either you or your coaches some feedback. When monitors are addressing your coaches, make sure you’re quiet and attentive so that the monitors and your coaches can really focus on relaying their impressions of your program(s). When monitors address you and your team directly, be sure to really listen to what the monitors have to say. The opportunity to be monitored doesn’t come around often, so you really want to make the most of all the feedback they give you.
5. Give all of their suggestions your best shot.
Sometimes the monitors might suggest making changes that are outside of your comfort zone. They don’t expect the things they implement to look perfect on your first try, but giving their suggestions your best shot will go a long way for their impression of your team.
6. Give the whole session everything you’ve got.
Monitoring sessions are hard. Usually your team will start off with a full-run of your program(s). Other than the time they spend giving your coaches and team feedback, you will be running sections (or maybe even doing another full-run) of your program(s). It can be a lot of intense skating, but really give it all you’ve got. At this point in the season, you have nothing to lose. Remember that the work you put in will only make you stronger.
7. Monitoring sessions aren’t easy, but they’re worth it.
Having an outside opinion on that tricky pivoting block or sticky three-spoke can be extremely valuable. You might have to run a certain section multiple times in order for your monitors to really understand what’s going on, so be patient. Their feedback goes a long way, so push through the tough sections!
We don’t always have the opportunity to perform for an audience outside of competitions, so really take advantage of your audience. Have fun interacting with the monitors throughout your program(s). I’m sure it’s more enjoyable for them to watch if you’re out there really performing and having a great time doing what you love.