Thousands of people will tell you that figure skating is a GREAT! sport. But what makes this unique ice sport so great and worth your time? That question is exactly what we will tackle in this article.
Webster’s Dictionary defines great as “remarkable in degree, magnitude, or effectiveness.” Skating is truly remarkable in the degree of detail it can be pursued, breathtaking in the magnitude of things one has to learn, and extremely effective in building character.
While doing research for MySkatingMall.com’s recently completed “What’s so great about figure skating?” video (click on the video title in the last line to watch it), we received so many insights from skaters and parents that are screaming to be shared! It doesn’t do any good to leave those thought provoking answers to gather dust in a file in our computer, right?
”Skating is about discipline. It teaches so much more than jumps and spins. It teaches about coping with the twists and turns of life, too. Skating teaches an understanding and acceptance of who you are, and who your friends are. Ultimately, skating is not exclusive; it is inclusive. If you are a new parent in the sport, please remember this. In the heat and passion of competition, know that the here-and-now is just that. What truly matters is what is ahead,as well as what has gone before. Those are the six walls of a perfect box that encompass the best present of all in this sport: Lasting friendships. That is a gift that is truly priceless.” -Alison Scott, mother of Jeremy Abbot, two time U.S. National Champion
Now here is an answer from a teenage skater: “Figure skating teaches you a lot about life itself even before you get out there. This sport is like a roller coaster, and so is life. You have your ups, and your downs. There will always be people who want to see you rise, and there are always people who want to see you fall. How you deal with these falls is how you succeed. This concept applies in life itself. You face this problem everyday of your life, and you face this problem everyday in skating. In skating though, you literally fall, but you have to get back up and keep going. You cannot look back, or feel sorry that you fell, you just got to get up and keep going. You have to get up and try again. THIS is why I love figure skating.” -Casey Yee
Below are my personal reflections from 21 years of competing:
Skating allows you to possess a unique set of skills. You can do things that only a small fraction of a single percent of people in the world can do. It is so rewarding to dedicate yourself day after day, year after year to develop skills that others couldn’t even comprehend of doing quickly.
Constant personal growth. I feel like I can accomplish anything now. I feel like I’ll never be in harder situations than I’ve already gone through. It’s a crucible.
You learn to set and work towards goals. Achieve them and reset them higher.
When you fail, you know it quickly. Your life becomes practice for the Ultimate Success Formula of learning from mistakes, making adjustments, and moving forward. Skaters do not have a “padded room” life. You can get so strong emotionally, mentally.
You learn how to think and how to weed the garden of your mind. Most will never dig into the recesses of their mind to maximize its abilities like great skaters will. Is the average person as aware of negative thoughts and have they learned to listen?
You can develop balance and fine motor control far beyond most other people on the planet! They will never know what it feels to have control over their body like you do.
You learn to deal with anxiety and performing in front of and audience. Can help with public speaking and work situations. You get used to standing on your own.
To be good, it demands a lot of time and sacrifice. If you are a competitive skater, you know that you can’t do everything other kids your age are doing. Do I regret not going to all the parties, etc? No way.
Constantly being pushed outside your comfort zone. Everyday you have to strive to be your best.
Choosing to focus all your energies on one thing. It becomes something you take ownership of. Greatness in any pursuit only happens with this ingredient.
No other sport combines that artistic and physical requirements of skating. It has the artistry of dance and the athleticism of gymnastics.
There is always something else to learn, someone who is better than you. You can progress at your own pace.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
You learn to deal with physical pain and discomfort. Injuries are a common hurdle.
Skating students are used to working hard and they don’t expect everything to be easy. You need to do really hard things with a smile.
Perserverance: knowing that you may have to do something a thousand times before you get it and stepping down that road and doing it anyways.
You learn to do things even when you don’t want to do them. The lesson learned is that you are not run purely by your emotions.
Skating teaches you that you can’t control everything that happens to you in life, no matter how hard you work on it. Maybe you step on a loose ice chip on the ice. A skater’s balance needs to be so fine tuned to complete certain elements that even though you’ve landed a jump a thousand times before you sometimes fall.
You get familiar with uncertaintly and continue moving forward even though you don’t know exact how it is going to end.
There are untold benefits of day dreaming, visualization, and seeing your future in your mind’s eye. These are all things that competitive skaters do.
Freedom! Where else can one glide with speed, leap into the air, look at the world at a lean and not fall over. There is nothing like it!
Skating also taught me time-management and how to plan ahead. All the different times I’d sneak in my homework while riding in the car or during lunch at school.
It teaches you to lose graciously.
I turned to my facebook friends and asked for their insights as to why figure skating is a great sport. Here are many of the answers I received:
Kristen Klenner Harmon: “Figure skating taught me about dedication, perseverence, hard work, commitment, the thrill of not only victory but of doing your personal best and how to learn and grow from defeat. It gave me self confidence and made who I am today. I would not trade minute of it.”
Linda Howard: From a mothers point of view: Health, confidence and friendship are the three main benefits of skating. Lessons, practice, programs all create a healthy fun way to keep your child in good health. Confidence is gained every time your child lands a new jump, competes and wins a trophy and creates the confidence to stand in front of many people and perform. And lastly friendships are made which will last throughout their life and just as your website has done keep people interested in the sport all over the world.”
Rebecca Stone: “Knowing that the second you step on the ice nothing else matters. Nothing matters but you. The crisp sounds your blade makes as it cuts across the ice and the smell of the coldness of the ice puts you in a place that makes you forget about what is going on outside of the rink.”
Keila Yonker: “You are able to express yourself in a way that is truly unique to the sport of figure skating. No other sport integrates the grace of dance, the athleticism achieved through vigorous training, and the emotion of theater, drama, and acting all in one. Figure skating is so great because it is the motion that creates a masterpiece on a blank canvas called ice. ”
Sarah Brady: “Nothing in this world makes you feel more free that skating. It acts as a form of escapism and helps you forget your troubles. Skating pushes you to the limit, scares you and motivates you all at same time.”
Emily Schrader: “The lessons you learn from it: life skills…discipline primarily and the ability to persevere through something that’s uncomfortable from such a young age. Also an understanding of what it’s like to work hard at something you are passionate about. Something a lot of college students still don’t understand is that what you decide to do with your life is something that you should love and enjoy working for. It’s not about the career that will pay you the most money…and if it was not for skating I don’t think I’d fully grasp that.”
Courtney Baga: “It’s all in the glide. A forward motion that continues, regardless of whether or not you are moving that mimics reality and time in a way that only, I imagine, flying could relate to. That is what makes skating a unique form of expression that is more real for me than any other.”
Charles Meadows : “When your balde touches the ice you are free to be who you want to be, maybe a cowboy is a skating porgram, or maybe a chiminey sweep, whatever you want, it is there at your finger tips. Whatever limits the world put on you fall off in those first few glides, and that is what I think is so grat about figure skating. On another note… you can use the gifts that God had givin you for his glory as well.”
Alix Smith: “You get to feel like no one can touch you and you get a feeling that you can’t get from anything else. You get to be yourself, express yourself in a way that you can’t anywhere else. Also, you get to be by yourself and if you want to be alone and get away from people, you can do it while your skating.”
Krista Dornbush: “The feeling of being graceful, beautiful and defying gravity for just a few moments everyday.”
Jennifer O’Leary: “The sound of your blade carving through the ice. The smell of a cold rink. Losing yourself in the music: body, heart, and soul. The feeling of your muscles as they coil to spring into a jump. The joy you feel when the wind goes through your hair as you increase speed. A clean program. There are so many moments in skating that are “great.”. It’s hard to pick just one.”
Deb Champagne: “What’s so great about figure skating?” I’ll tell you… it’s truly ART in MOTION! I”m not a skater, but a fan who could watch figure skating all day…everyday! I just love watching how the music is interpreted by each skater, everyone is different and unique and it translates on the ice. Sure I love the jumps too, but I’m always watching for something more, for someone to draw you into their performance with that special spark!!!”
Kristin O’Neil Lyle: “My daughter tells me that she feels like she can fly when she skates. She feels free. As for me, as her mom, I think that it has taught her to be self disciplined and self motivated. I love that she has made friends from all over through her skating. I think that making goals and trying to reach them is also a wonderful benefit from skating.”
Kathy Slack: “It would be all the above but after more than 50 years of skating I realize that skating has given me the greatest gift of all – lasting friendships bound together by a common love of the sport!”
Samantha Marie: “What’s so great about figure skating? My answer is: The Discipline and athletic ability to accomplish what most only dream of. The personal achievements made after setting life long goals. The satisfaction of knowing you have come a long way and can only get better with self determination. It’s also great to know that everything a skater learns while in training can apply those “lessons” to every day life. But, most of all I would say skating is the biggest reason why I’ve become this person. I will pass it on one day, coaching.”
Lauren Deere Burtt : “You can move on the ice in a way that isn’t humanly possible any where else, not even on the dance stage. Figure skating is without comparison!”
Jenna Whitney: “There is no “perfect” in figure skating…you can always spin faster, jump higher, etc…there is always something to work on. A great sport for overachievers!!! Skating gives me a reason to get up in the morning when nothing else does…”
Barbara Pocock: “The sheer beauty of it. The range of emotions it evokes. It is the most emotionally expressive sport of all I think. Just captivates it’s audience and hold them on the edge of their seat until the end of the performance. ”
Andrew Harmon: “It’s like a dream. you leave all you worries and fears behind you and become another person. its just you and the ice beneath your blades. the cold calming breeze that calms your nerves when you just cant take it anymore, or its the heart stopping excitement of the jumps and spins that make your heart race, and your body go wild you feel like you could do anything.”
Hiro Takahashi: “I agree… it is my addiction. I’m a perfectionist so I never leave the ice on a bad note, spin and jumps. What’s so great about figure skating for me is there is always something new to learn and figure out. It’s the freedom of being in your own bubble. You’re an artist creating a skating canvas on the ice for people to see and interpret in their own way and admire the gracefulness and elegance of the sport and the athleticism and preciseness of each of the elements.”
”You’re going to win sometimes that you should lose, and lose sometimes you should have won.” -Frank Carrol, coach of Olympic Champion Evan Lyzacek
When Amanda Evora got off the ice after her long program at the 2010 Olympic Games with partner Mark Ladwig, she looked at the camera and said, “It’s worth it!” I hope you have found this article insightful and encouraging. I want other people to experience the same great benefits that I have experienced through competitive figure skating. That’s why I coach skating and why I created MySkatingMall.com! Please pass on this article to anyone who would be encouraged by it.