As I sit in the cold metal stands watching my daughter’s skating lesson I realize that she is learning much more than skating out on the ice. She’s developing tools that will help her succeed as she grows as a person as well.
Balance is one of the first things she learns. Finding her center, figuring out how much she can lean forward and backward without falling over. Standing her ground amid the flurry of skaters she learns how to stand on her own and not let others intimidate her, yet she is still courteous – letting the skater performing a run-through of her program ample room to execute her pattern and elements.
After balance comes control. Skate too slow and she doesn’t have the momentum to execute a jump or direction change well. Too fast and she is suddenly past the limits of her ability and becomes a danger to herself and others. Control is knowing when to slow down and when to speed up and finding that sweet spot where everything works as it should.
As she masters balance and control she gains confidence. With this confidence comes the desire to try new things, even if they seem scary or downright impossible. Confidence is not expecting to do everything perfectly the first time, but it is having the knowledge that with proper instruction and practice her abilities will develop and she will make the most of the talent she possesses. Having this confidence also means that she will take criticism well and use it to improve her performance.
With repetition and additional exercise she develops flexibility. She can extend herself to get the most out of her performance and she can stretch until she can attain what was once out of her reach. She can also adapt to different rinks and ice conditions without it throwing her entirely off her game.
The last and most important thing she learns is perseverance. Learning how to skate means falling. Often. Every time she falls, she must get back up again. Giving up isn’t an option. Her program needs to be seen through to the end. She will fall 10, 20, 30 times before finally landing a new jump, but she will learn it. She will learn how to shake off the bumps and bruises she acquires along the way, knowing that if she sticks it out she will have expanded her body of knowledge and will be proud of the fact that she stuck it out and learned something new instead of giving up and always wondering, “What if?”.
Sometimes she doesn’t want to go to the rink. Sometimes she would like more free time, but what she is learning on the ice is invaluable and they are skills that will help her be successful not just in skating, but in life.