New App Series a Positive Addition

6 Feb

By Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

Skating coaches who want access to the 12-badge curriculum of the Basic Skills program can now say, “There’s an app for that”.

Back in November, U.S. Figure Skating teamed with Rink Tank Interactive to develop the U.S. Figure Skating ‘Skate Coach’ App Series. The collection of apps is available at the iTunes app store and available for use on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Each takes parents, coaches and skaters through the 12- badge curriculum of the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program.

And the new apps are catching on with coaches in a positive way.

Bridget Kaus, skating director at Polar Ice in Peoria, AZ. finds it very helpful as a coach to have information so quickly available on an app.

“One example of how I used the app was just last week,” Kaus said. “As the skating director I am on the ice during all Basic Skills classes. One of my instructors was handling an injury from one of her skaters who had fallen and was upset. That skater was very attached to the instructor so rather than handle the injury myself I took over the class while she comforted the child and took her off the ice. I jumped into the class and used the app to remind me of the skills that were being taught at that level. As much as we know as coaches, I don’t think anyone has every element of every level memorized.”

The new apps greatly enhance the U.S. Figure Skating’s Basic Skills Program, according to Susi Wehrli-McLaughlin, U.S. Figure Skating Senior Director of Membership, and provide quick feedback for those working on the Basic Skills curriculum.

“This is a wonderful addition to our Basic Skills Program and I would encourage our skaters, parents and our instructors to embrace this new technology to enhance their experience with the program,” Wehrli- McLaughlin said.

The U.S. Figure Skating ‘Skate Coach’ App Series includes videos, diagrams and written instruction that enhance a skater’s on ice learning.

For Kaus, the best part of the app is the video feature.

“I find many skaters are visual. To be able to show the video to another child doing the skill is helpful to them to understand the quality we are looking for and give them a visual to work towards,” Kaus said.

Mark Fitzgerald, owner of Rink Tank Interactive and a former World-level skater, believes coaches can look at the new app series as a digital basic skills manual, with video included.

Fitzgerald likes the ease of use.

“The apps are meant to show the skills, not teach them. Three taps and you can get to a video of any skill in the whole discipline,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also likes the portability.

“Having more than 400 examples in my pocket at all times and not having to rely on slow downloads of the internet is invaluable. The apps are self-contained so response time for videos is super snappy,” Fitzgerald said.

Kaus also likes the ability to check skills with the push of a button.

“As a coach, I love the ability to check the skills for each level so quickly,” she said.

A slow motion feature is also available.

“When a video starts, tap the pause button and then hold down the fast forward button,” Fitzgerald said. “The demonstration will play on slow-motion. Very handy when trying to break down skills for skaters.”

For Kaus the ability to check skills for each level so quickly at the push of a button is indispensable.

“It takes the place of me having the rulebook on hand at all times,” Kaus said. “In setting programs for Basic Skills competitions it is also helpful when you do not have either the competition application or rulebook on the ice with you. It has been very convenient.”

Fitzgerald also believes the app series benefits coaches.

“Skaters get totally engrossed by watching videos. They will love the interactivity, and having the videos ready for classes and lessons is priceless. Instead of always telling skaters what they need to do, coaches have another method of showing them,” Fitzgerald said.

Skaters also have the benefit of reviewing the skills after lessons to reinforce what they have learned, according to Fitzgerald.

“They can watch it at the boards, in the car or even at home. It is almost as if they can practice skating without being at the rink. The visual reinforcement is really super to boost learning,” Fitzgerald said.

Kaus feels skaters benefit because they have a list and video to watch what is expected at each level.

“It allows them to be accountable for their own success and monitor themselves when they are not in a lesson,” Kaus said.

Both Kaus and Fitzgerald also believe parents can benefit from the app series as well.

“Parents can finally get a grip on what their children or even they should be learning on the ice,” Fitzgerald said. “Access to information will help them understand where their skaters need to improve if they want to move on to higher levels. The price of $1.99 is the most affordable lesson they will ever get for their skaters,” Fitzgerald said.

“I believe if their child is struggling with certain skills it is a great tool to be able to show them the standard of what we are expecting in order to advance to the next level,” Kaus added

“The technology of where we have come with apps amazes me. It is nice to see skating keeping up with the rest of the world and not being forgotten. You hear people say all the time, ‘there’s an app for that.’ I’m thankful that our sport is included,” Kaus said.

The apps series is available for $1.99 at the iTunes app store.



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