Figures: Do any coaches still teach them?

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by Jozet, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Jozet

    Jozet Active Member

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    This morning during a group class, the coach went over some of the first basic figures with the skaters. Not that MIF don't need focus and hard work, but my daughter (Int level) looked absolutely exhausted from concentrating so hard on even the beginning figures. (Which I assumed was a good challenge.)

    I know there is a bit of "back in my day" relativity to this argument and sometimes hand-wringing over the loss of figures.

    But I was just wondering whether they are still taught/practiced in any meaningful way at any rinks or by certain coaches (even if they aren't tested)? Is there really something to be gained over MIF other than an "academic" sort of challenge?
  2. Jenya

    Jenya Well-Known Member

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    My old rink started a figures clinic a few years ago. It started off as a trial, to see if there was any interest with the kids. The clinic was always full and the kids really enjoyed it. The main problem we ran into was that only one of our coaches had any type of extensive background in training/testing figures - the rest of us were too young to have really learned them.

    I personally think there is a lot to be gained from learning figures - edge control and quality to start with. I think it's great that coaches are incorporating them into clinics and lessons - I wish my coaches had done that when I was growing up.
  3. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if there are "serious" programs out there, but my coach teaches me moves based off her figures knowledge. If I'm having problems with the counters for example, she will have me do them on an 8 like she used to do. Yes, it really helps! I feel very blessed to have this knowledge passed on to me, but sad that I do not have the foundation to someday pass this on to others.

    Sometimes there is a special figures session group class at the rink but it's rare. I wish there were more.

    Is it possible to still test figures?
  4. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what you mean by "meaningful", but all the coaches at my club are absolutely delighted whenever anyone asks to work on figures. We don't have a patch session, but they are more than happy to take over a little corner of ice and work with a student who wants to learn them.

    And yes, there really is something to be gained from them: concentration, body control, better edge quality. IMHO with moves (and the equivalent that we have here in Canuckistan) too often speed and ice coverage is emphasized at the expense of the edge quality that moves are supposed to teach.
  5. Jozet

    Jozet Active Member

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    I think what I meant is there something to be gained that can be translated into improving MIFs or other types of testing or competition. Intuitively, I thought yes, but wanted to hear others' thoughts.
  6. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Check out this new "Compulsory Figures Project" group (created in September by a coach in Minneapolis) on Facebook! :) https://www.facebook.com/groups/417864058269890/

    Description: This group will follow the progress of a Patch Class that began on Sept. 6th, 2012 and it will also be a forum for both preserving and newly innovating the lost art of compulsory figures.
  7. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    My rink in NY runs figures classes on Saturday mornings, on club ice.
  8. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    In the US I believe it is, if you can find a panel of judges that still have their test qualifications for whatever level you're testing. I know an adult skater who passed her Gold figure a couple of years ago, but she had to do a lot of searching to find enough judges for the test. Luckily she lives in a very large city (Los Angeles) so it was a lot easier to arrange the test than it might have been in a less populated area with fewer judges of any kind.

    The judges that she found were very happy to do the test for her, though. She told me that at the end of the test, one of the judges said to her, "When we're gone....that's it" - meaning that when that generation of judges with those qualifications passes away, the tests will disappear too because no one will be qualified to judge them :(
  9. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    The coaches I have who did figures absolutely teach figures, or use their figures knowledge as a foundation for teaching other stuff (my main coach is always using them to help me know what to do with my shoulders, arms, free leg, etc). And yes, there is still a testing structure in place for figures but it's more and more difficult to find qualified judges :(
  10. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    There are figures coaches in our area too.

    What disturbs me is that I see coaches who did not learn figures trying to teach figure-type moves (like the figure 8) and are teaching them all wrong. :(
  11. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    I passed my 3rd figure test in 2003. My test chair did have to set up a special session for me, since they couldn't tack it onto the beginning or end of a regular test session, so we picked 9:00 am on a Tuesday and I took off from work. I had no trouble finding judges luckily, since there were a number in our area qualified to judge and they were dying to do it. At the end of the test, they asked me to hurry up with the 4th test since they weren't getting any younger.

    There is a figures competition every August in Oregon.

    I have some figures information compiled here with some information about patch ic and testing. THough I admit I haven't updated it in a while.
  12. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Figures are still a really large part of roller skating and they do have major championships in those.
    Ozzisk8tr and (deleted member) like this.
  13. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I also should point out that IME with adult skaters, those who skated as children/teens (i.e. when figure tests were required) are much better at Moves/skills than adults who didn't test or compete during the figure days.
  14. flipforsynchro

    flipforsynchro New Member

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    All the coaches at my rink had extensive training in figures, and my coach always likes to tell me how, "Back in the day........" :D
  15. Jozet

    Jozet Active Member

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    Thanks everyone, and thanks for the links! We're going to try figures again next week and I might even give it a go. My kiddo who dreads moves actually liked doing figures. Watching them, I was reminded of the penmanship drills we used to do over and over again in grade school (also waaaaaaayyy back it the day.) Figures looks like learning good penmanship...with your feet. :)
  16. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    I know, it's so sad that skaters of today will not be able to teach the skaters of tomorrow any figures, because they are not being taught them.

    I'd really like to get my coach to teach me some of what she knows. It's frustrating that she has all this figure knowledge that I can't get out of her. Even if I decided to start testing figures, how would I even practice it with no patch sessions? Freestyles & publics are too busy and I'm not sure what the attitude would be if I lugged out a scribe. It's fighting a losing battle to even learn.
  17. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    No, it's not. You might not be able to practice the figures at the full size with the regular proportions (as they would be if you drew them with a scribe), but you can practice smaller versions of them in a corner of the rink, or wherever you can find a quiet(ish) bit of ice.

    And I can't imagine that your coach *wouldn't* want to teach you what she can, if you asked her.
  18. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    You don't need a scribe to practise figures. I have found it is fun to use the hockey or curling circles on a rink and try and stick to the lines. I also suggest this to help those who have trouble getting onto an outside edge.
  19. treesprite

    treesprite New Member

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    The circles are supposed to be proportionate to the skater's height, hence the use of a scribe which can be adjusted.

    I did figures when I was a kid and really loved it. During the time I was not skating, when I learned that figures was out and moves was in, I was very disappointed. I have a bad attitude towards MIF and am distressed about the figures being gone because figures are a test of focus and precision that can't be adequately demonstrated by a MIF test. I feel like MIF has made skaters lazy.

    I just got a pair of Gold Test figure blades off EBay for 99 cents plus shipping. Gotta put them on something!
  20. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    There's a difference of opinion about the use of scribes. Some people used them to lay out the circles beforehand, others used them to check the shape and size of the circles. I think the pattern was that for beginners/new figures, you would use the scribe beforehand and for experienced skaters, you would use it afterwards to verify that the figure was correct. However, a scribe wasn't mandatory. It was a "nice to have" tool, though, and definitely a status symbol, lol.

    Most of the circles for Figures are supposed to be three times the skater's height, but it's pretty easy to eyeball the outer edge point and estimate the other points on the curve. That also improved accuracy since you weren't following a pre-set pattern; you had to look where you were going and use proper edges rather than wobbling along on a pre-drawn figure with your head straight down for the entire figure.

    Only a few high-level skaters even owned scribes when I skated Figures in the 1980's, so it wasn't controversial - if you had one, you used it. (I didn't have one, but I bought one a few years ago off eBay.)
  21. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    When I was working on my preliminary and first test in the 1970s, I did not have a scribe. The rink owner had an old-fashioned wooden one that was often available and that I used occasionally, but mostly I didn't use one. The more advanced skaters (second test and up) generally did own one.

    I have one now that was given to me by another adult skater who had acquired two in the early 90s, just before they became virtually obsolete, but I have had occasion to use it maybe twice (when our rink offered midday private lesson ice that was often empty enough for patch -- no longer offered :( ).
  22. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    :confused: Everyone I knew owned and used scribes in the late 70's-early 80's. None of us were anywhere near high level.

    ETA - I see gkelly didn't use them either. My mother was a coach. Maybe that had something to do with it. Either that, or they were just big in Michigan.
  23. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    My experience with Patch was in New Jersey, but not at South Mountain Arena. I'm sure most of the skaters who practiced there owned scribes. Not the case at other rinks, ime.
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  24. Jasmar

    Jasmar Active Member

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    We all used them, too, in the Portland area. I loved carrying my scribe: it made me feel very secure, gripping it like a machine gun, when I had to walk through dark, deserted mall parking lots before dawn. I figured any crazies not scared off by the wicked-looking point at the end could be easily dispatched by a good smash over the head.

    There never were any crazies, of course ;-)
  25. treesprite

    treesprite New Member

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    You need them to get used the feeling of a perfect curve that is the proper proportions, and to make sure your two lobes are exactly the same size until you get a feel for them without looking at an indicator.
  26. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    Sorry scribes weren't the only solution for sizing circles or estimating the curves. While it was probably really cool to have your own scribe, the rest of us got by just fine.
  27. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    I read on wikipedia that scribes were not allowed in competition.
  28. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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    They never were. Not allowed for tests, either. Practice only.
  29. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    I remember the judges in their fur coats and boots stomping onto the ice for tests. I don't think they used scribes to check the size/shape either - did it by eye, right?
  30. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow dancing

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  31. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    And little markers that they put on the ice to see if the turns lined up, etc.
  32. treesprite

    treesprite New Member

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    Back in the old days, you were allowed to put one single mark on the ice with the back of your skate blade in a test, but that was it.

    I found out yesterday that there is now a figures class at my rink. I'm hoping to get a couple factors worked out, then I will be able to sign up for it.
  33. minx

    minx New Member

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    I used to "walk out" my circles, anyone else ever do this?
  34. treesprite

    treesprite New Member

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    What do you mean?
  35. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    If it's the same "walking out" that I'm thinking of, it's a way of estimating whether your circles in a figure 8 or a three-circle figure are the right size, without using a scribe or any other measuring tool.

    After you skate your figure, you stand at the far end of one circle. Then you put your heel of one skate to the toe of the other skate and "walk" along the vertical axis of the figure to measure the length of a circle. For a figure 8 both circles together are supposed to be about three times your height, so if you know how long your skate blade is (and of course you know how tall you are), you should know how many "steps" should fit in when you "walk" across the circle. Then when you "walk" you can tell if your figure is too big or too small.
  36. treesprite

    treesprite New Member

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    Ok, thanks for explaining.
  37. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    We side-stepped instead of doing heel-to-toe measuring. For me, 8 side-steps≈16'

    Later, I learned to estimate it using my arms when showing the axis to the judges.

    If you stand on your center and hold your arms out to the side with your hands down near your chest, you can use visual perspective to "sight" the outer edge of the circle using your fingertips. It's definitely not as precise as measuring, but it works okay for Moves tests. You have to find the arm height that works for you, though. If you raise them too high, the circle is bigger, too low and it's too small.
  38. Lacey

    Lacey Well-Known Member

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    I was chairman of the Parents' committee at our rink during the year that Moves in the Field were created by the USFSA. We also switched that season from mothers judging Ribbon Tests to Coaches passing the USFSA Basic Skills levels. It was a tumultuous time. We had meeting upon meeting about what to do with the afternoon Figures Sessions that at the time ran for both Kids and Adults, the latter who led the decision-making process. Of course, the Adult skaters wanted Patch to continue, and the kids no longer needed Figures for competitions so they all wanted to drop them. Our club also had a huge commitment to Dance, so we combined Moves and Dance 2-3 times daily during the Junior Sessions for a half hour each, Pre, Low and High, then an hour for Free, which I think I remember could be doubled for serious skaters. In the end we decided that if kids still wanted to do figures, they could come in at 6am before school, as there just wasn't time for everything in afternoons. There might have been an additional Patch, which mostly Seniors used, at about 9am. Figures remain on some days, but disjointed. I have been interested this year to see some very high level national coaches bemoaning the lack of control that newer younger skaters have because they never did figures. And they do enter in, even in dance elements and in freestyle footwork, like Brackets, Choctaws and edges. Someone more knowledgeable than me could speak of this. I think doing Figures is a good idea and can totally see the need for all types of skaters to practice them.
  39. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    I think they should be brought back and used for testing only, not competition.
  40. Clarice

    Clarice Active Member

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    Do you mean bringing back the tests in the sense that they would be required as prerequisites? Because we can still take the tests, of course. I do worry about the eventual lack of qualified judges if something isn't done.