MySk8Coach: Learn to skate like a champion
By Vladislav Luchianov
Figure skating is still pretty expensive sport. Not every skater can afford to pay for the services of highly professional coach. On the other hand, even those skaters that constantly work with professionals often need additional information and high-quality materials to improve their skating skills.
In this regard, MySk8Coach is a unique source that will suit absolutely any skater, regardless of the level of mastery. This source was created by true skating professionals and provides a wealth of educational video lessons. Many famous specialists involved to this project: Brian Orser, Paul Matheson, Doug Leigh, Michelle Leigh, Paige Aistrop and many others.
2008 Olympic Champion Jeffrey Buttle considers MySk8Coach.com as a great place for anyone involved or interested in the sport of figure skating.
“To have specific exercises by top coaches and examples performed by elite skaters at your fingertips can be a great asset, one which I would have loved to have had years ago. This innovative source will bring a much needed tool to any athlete’s training: a visual. I have learned first hand the possibility for improvement through visualization and with this skill, the sky is the limit.” he said about the project.
World Figure Skating talked with MySk8Coach co-founder and contributing coach Paul Matheson about this unique source.
Paul, tell us, please about the idea of creation of MySk8Coach.
Paul Matheson: MySk8Coach was a concept that came about simply because of the number of skaters and coaches that would come to us and say how much they enjoyed the coaching and information they could get at our training center and they wished there was a way they could access more from the staff without having to travel long distances.
We decided if they can’t always come to us maybe there was a way we could our information to them without having to get in a car or an airplane, and MySk8Coach was born. Over the years we have added more coaches to our service that don’t teach out of our training center, but we knew their information would be valuable to our subscribers.
The coaches that have been added are the open minded type of people that are more than happy to share their techniques with anyone who is interested and are excited about the concept of reaching skaters and coaches that otherwise they would never be able to connect with.
As I understood your web source is for everyone, who is involved in figure skating, despite the level and age. Could you tell us more about it?
P. Matheson: From the beginning of MySk8Coach we have tried to service every level of skating, but even we have been surprised by the different levels of skaters and coaches that have embraced our idea. The requests we get for different lessons really give us an idea of the background that each skater is coming from, from beginner, to needing help with triples, to adult ice dancers, we have had them all.
All the lessons we release have a target audience in mind, and our coaches do a good job of trying to connect with that target audience. From technique lessons, to exercises that a skater can use, to strategy lessons that a skater can use to maximize points on a spin for example, we try to offer everything that a skater or coach can use to improve.
We all know that there are many learning videos on YouTube. What is your advantage?
P. Matheson: We often get asked what our advantage is and I always have the same answer: Our staff of coaches. The coaches that we feature have proven track records of success and we think the information they present is world class. Many of the tips available on YouTube are very valuable too, the great thing about the internet as an information delivery tool is it gives athletes and coaches choice. Of course we hope our staff of coaches and the fact they don’t keep any secrets will help them choose us!
You have an impressive list of coaching staff. Can you tell us about some of your coaches?
P. Matheson: As I mentioned, our coaching staff is our greatest asset and we are very proud to have their expertise on MySk8Coach. We have world champion coaches like Doug Leigh, Brian Orser, and Lee Barkell. National and International champion coaches like Michelle Leigh, Robert Tebby, David Islam, and Stephane Yvars.
We also have very accomplished development level coaches like Cheryle Gaston who has won awards for her work with younger skaters and building their skills from a younger age. On top of those coaches we offer some specialist coaching from Paige Aistrop (spins), myself (footwork, edges, and skating), and Janice Morgan (off- ice jumps and exercises). We like to think we have all the bases covered, while at the same time offering a good variety of perspectives and ideas that people can choose from and learn from.
In addition to the technical elements of figure skating such as jumps, spins, step sequences and off-ice trainings, you also pay a lot of attention to the mental preparation. How do you see the importance of this aspect of skating and what is your approach?
P. Matheson: Mental preparation is so key to the success of all athletes in today’s world of sports we thought it was important to offer a few ideas to help some of the skaters and coaches out there get started with building their own mental preparation plan. We don’t offer many videos on this category but have been in discussions with some experts in the field about adding some of their ideas to the site.
Video tutorials on your website are available at quite reasonable prices. How do you do it, given that lessons of high level coaches are usually expensive?
P. Matheson: We do our best to keep everything as reasonably priced as possible so we don’t exclude any skaters or coaches out there who want to learn from our staff of coaches. From the beginning we have made our focus on the quality of information being presented.
It’s been tempting at times to spend time and money on using expensive cameras, lighting, and camera crews, but the result would be delivery of the same information at a much higher cost to the skater and coach. We also like to keep the lesson informal so that the person watching the video can feel like they are “in the action”.
By offering videos that are high in information and not spending excessive time and money on the production we can keep the videos reasonably priced. All of the coaches featured in the videos receive a small commission per download to help them offset any time it took to shoot the video, and to help keep them wanting to shoot more lessons!
What is your opinion about present competitive skating? What do you like and what you don’t?
P. Matheson: That’s a great question! I think the sport has come a long way since the days of 6.0’s, and I think it is on the right competitive path to growing back to the heights competitive figure skating achieved in the 90’s. The more transparent the judging can become I think will continue to attract fans that otherwise wouldn’t take skating seriously as a sport.
The technical mark that skaters receive has transparency and is not able to be manipulated, the program component score is still able to be manipulated to change outcomes of events and until it gets adjusted to reflect the skater not the warm up group that they are skating in it will be a hindrance to the growth competitive skating.
Developing a sustained rivalry between a few of our top world skaters would go a long way to catching the mainstream sporting world’s eyes too. Personally I like when there are two or three athletes at the top of their games that are driven to beat each other and aren’t afraid to say it!
Tell us about your plans for the further development of MySk8Coach.
P. Matheson: We are currently developing a new website that will allow users to view all of our videos online as opposed to downloading the videos. Our new release videos will be released on MySk8Coach first and then released later on the sister site that we are calling Sk8erZone. Sk8erZone is for skaters that don’t want to download all the videos and have an internet connection at their arena etc so they can watch the videos online anytime. We use the comparison to the difference between iTunes and YouTube.
Another interesting service we are hoping to launch soon is the ability to receive a video of an element from a skater and have one of our coaches do an analysis of that element and then send the video back complete with the analysis. It’s not a revolutionary concept, but we’re trying to expand on our quest to have skaters from around the world connect with our coaches and share their information.