5 Reasons to Stick with Skating (And the Skills That Will Follow You off the Ice)
Guest post by Elizabeth Misson
Every skater has a story about how they got started, from following in the steps of an older sibling to watching the Olympics or even being invited to a friend’s skating birthday party (for me, it was the first).
But no one ever wants to talk about the day they stopped.
Did you know that according to a poll conducted by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, as many as 70 percent of U.S. children quit organized sports by the age of 13?
The reason? It’s just not fun anymore.
After spending about 20 years as a competitive figure skater and 20 more as a coach, I consider myself fortunate to have not yet put my references to figure skating into past tense.
After working with countless students of all ages and ability levels, I’ve come to realize that it’s a very basic principle that keeps us lacing up and stepping on the ice. That regardless of age, or whether you’re just trying to make it to the other side of the rink without falling, or if you’re trying to master a triple jump, it is FUN.
But let’s take a step back and remember what caught your eye in the first place. After all, skating is an activity like no other.
At the risk of sounding corny, I’d say it’s more than just “fun” — it’s magical.
No really, the next time someone asks what you do and you tell them you’re a skater, watch their eyes light up. Skating is magical to everyone, whether you are new to the sport or a veteran learning new skills.
I thought I would share five facts that I’ve learned from sticking with the sport, for any of you who may be having doubts about whether you want to continue:
1. Nothing teaches you what you’re made of more than those precious seconds in between the time you take your starting pose and the music starts
For any of you who have ever done a competitive event, you know that “butterflies in the tummy” feeling that you get at the thought of going out there to show a panel of judges what you can do.
Here’s the thing: if you can do this, you can pretty much do anything.
Public speaking? Not a problem. Work presentation? Nailed it.
2. No one can do time management like skaters
Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up before 5 a.m., trained for several hours before heading to school, carried a full course load of classes and managed to get it all done.
I’ll let you in on something: adulthood looks a lot like this. And if you’re killing the multitasking as a teenager, you’re going to be so ready for this “adulting” thing. Your friends and co-workers will have no idea how you do it all. Some days you won’t even know how you do it all. But I do — it’s called time management, and yes, skating had a lot to do with honing that skill.
3. Skating is tough
Ice skating is hard. There are no short cuts to success. Progress can seem slow at times, but the harder you have to work for something, you really do appreciate it more. It sounds cliché, but it’s the truth, and it will come up in your life over and over again. Knowing you’ve overcome seemingly impossible obstacles before gives you the strength to overcome even bigger ones in the future.
4. Your body will thank you for it
We use a lot of muscle groups when we skate, and even more if we cross-train. Skating helps us avoid the pitfalls of adulthood health problems that come from being out of shape.
Staying active while you’re still young (and continuing to be active as you age) is one of the best ways that you can avoid disability and disease when you are a little bit older.
5. We are all unicorns. Seriously — you don’t have to be Nathan Chen (although he is undoubtedly a super-cool unicorn)
Raise your hand if you’ve told someone that you’re a skater (and after their eyes lit up like you just told them you’re a unicorn) they proceed to ask, “are you going to the Olympics?”
But here’s the thing: we’re all still “unicorns.” If you just started Basic 1 yesterday; if you never started skating until you were 50 years old; if you’ve been skating since as long as you can remember, but something — a jump, a test level or a competition is still eluding you — it doesn’t diminish your value in this sport or the value the sport brings to you. All of the things that I mentioned above are yours for the taking. Those are skills that will follow you the rest of your life.
The unique thing about skating is there are so many avenues that you can take. Not everyone is a jumper. Not everyone is a dancer. Not everyone wants to go it alone. Some of you want nothing to do with triples, but can entertain an audience like nobody’s business. YOU can tailor your skating experience to exactly what you want it to be. I can’t think of many other sports that offer as many opportunities.
So, If you’re not having fun, or if you’re on the fence about continuing, maybe it’s time to change your approach and remember that you can define what success in skating looks like to you.
Elizabeth (Steck) Misson is a U.S. Figure Skating triple gold medalist and a Skate Canada gold medalist. Her proudest skating accomplishment has been sharing the joy of skating with the hundreds of people she has taught skate in her 20 years as a Learn to Skate USA program director in Brooklyn, Ohio.