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Pre-alpha adult beginner classes: what to expect?

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by Rubies, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Rubies

    Rubies Member

    I've loved watching skating every since I was a kid (I'm now in my late 20s), but I've never taken lessons. My skating pretty much extends to shuffling around the rink once every eight years with a look of terror stuck in my eyes. So to kick-start the new year, I signed up for a 10-week pre-alpha beginner class. This past Monday was my first class, and while I didn't break anything (yippee!), I left sort of confused. The rink's brochure states that pre-alpha, as the most beginner level, will focus on skating forward and stopping. Good things to know, right? Especially the stopping part. And no previous experience is required, as this is for total newbies.

    Well, over the course of the 45-minute session, we tried (and I stress tried) two-foot glides, one and two-foot snowplows, forward swizzles, backward swizzles, one-foot glides, and the prep for crossovers. Fun stuff, but I'm still stuck on the skating forward part of the two-foot glide! Oh, and snowplows. Stopping should be the most important thing, in my book.

    Is the first session always a "melting pot" of what you might learn over the course of the class? Or did I get in over my head?
  2. nicklaszlo

    nicklaszlo Member

    Sounds normal to me. They pretty much covered the entire prealpha curriculum and more in one session. While you should not expect to have mastered all those skills the first time, since your class undoubtedly has a range of ability levels the instructor included some more advanced things for the more advanced students. You will probably revisit all the skills again.

    I think 45 minutes of just sizzles would be unbearably boring, and for a beginner exhausting. So variety is good. Practice and you'll be out of prealpha before you know it.

    The ISI curriculum is here.
  3. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    Generally, the instructor will try to introduce all of the skills as soon as possible, so you'll have the whole course to practice and review. The snowplow stop is usually the hardest thing to master at the first level (and yeah, it's important ;)), so it makes sense that the instructor would start teaching that in the first class.

    I started skating when I was 29 and have been at it for 9 years now. Have fun!
  4. Rubies

    Rubies Member

    Thanks so much:) All good to know! As long as I'm not supposed to master all of those in one class, I feel better:)
  5. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I was an ISI skater back when Alpha was the first level for everyone. They introduced "Pre-Alpha" later, along with the Tot levels. The ISI programs I've taught for usually start adults at Alpha, but they stay there until they master the Pre-Alpha stuff. It's just to save face.

    What's probably happening here is that the class is a mixture of newbie Pre-Alphas and last session's Pre-Alpha/Alpha skaters, and/or the instructor wanted to review all of the requirements for Pre-Alpha and Alpha up front to judge everyone's skill set.

    Not to worry, just work at your own pace and hang in there. 10 weeks is a good length for a session of lessons. I taught in an 8-week program and they had to break Alpha up into Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 so that the skaters were able to "move up" after each session. There's no shame in repeating a level, so don't sweat it if that happens. Make sure to practice everything you learn between lessons or each lesson will turn into a review of last lesson.
  6. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    Welcome to the adult skating world. I started when I was 27 and have been doing it for 17 years.

    Sounds like you covered a lot but that is good - gives you lots to practise.

    Good luck with it!!
  7. Bunny_Hop

    Bunny_Hop New Member

    Sounds pretty normal. In a group class, it's normal for the coach to tell the group to try things not everyone is up to yet. Sometimes a coach introduces some "fun" stuff that's either slightly above the level or not from the curriculum, to keep people interested.
  8. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    I think you've got a pretty good foundation for the class, and will be out of it faster than you think ( = don't worry! )

    Occasionally adults sign up for pre-alpha without any prior skating experience. It's totally doable, but much more stressful compared to a child in the same situation.
  9. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    (duplicate post)
  10. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    when I took some basic skating classes, the first beginner class they actually did a lot of things in the first session, since it was made up of people who could : glide forward and maybe stop since they had been maybe been rollerblading, or going to a public setting as kids, and adults who had never stepped on ice, and was trying to learn not to clutch the rail (I live in an area with a lot of immigrants from places like India, who may decide to give a new thing a try! very brave I think).
    After the first class they split everyone up.

    also, in later classes, we all works on different things, like my 3 turns are 'ok', my mohawks are non-existing... My husband gets to work on waltz jumps, otherwise he is bored :p.

    missing skating a bit now I am pregnant :p. I did adult classes for about a 1.5 years, started at 30! it is fun :D.
  11. succubus

    succubus Well-Known Member

    Am I the only adult skater who after 3 years is working on a lutz but still can't snowplow stop? I do the t-stop and am working on show stop - anytime I've ever tried to snowplow I faceplant. :slinkaway
  12. LLOS

    LLOS New Member

    No, you are not the only one, I can't do stops either, just a simple one on left inside, no clue how that is called :p
  13. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    I'm in a learn-to-skate adult class (third week) and my teacher (who is a specialist in teaching adults) said that for some folks snowplow stops are really hard. We haven't gotten to it yet and I have no confidence in my ability to do one!
  14. Rubies

    Rubies Member

    Had my second class this past Monday, and we spent 1/3 of the class working on crossovers. Everyone in the class, minus two people, looked freaked out--including me--, and I was fairly frank with the instructor in that I still couldn't get a one-foot glide (or even a one-foot pick-it-up-and-pray-I-don't-fall), so I wasn't sure how I was supposed to perform forward crossovers. I asked if she could explain how the two are related, so I could try and work on my issue (I'm not getting "over" my supporting leg enough, which then poses major issues for crossover prep). But she didn't seem to think that was funny... Or relevant.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  15. minx

    minx Active Member

    I teach a large adult learn to skate with very mixed levels and the first thing I say to the whole group is that I'm going to teach stuff they can't do and I don't expect them to do it - yet. But I'll show them in case they are curious as to how things work. For one class that was mid-beginner, while holding onto the boards, we stepped through the choctaw in the kilian for example, but I would not in a million years ever teach that dance to the group. But, they'd seen kid skaters doing it and wanted to know the mechanics. I like to show them what's ahead, and then it makes more sense why we work on one foot glides on the circle for a very long time. Which is what you need for crossovers. There's a requirement for balance and strength on each leg. Oh yeah bend your knees. more. more lol! Good luck.
  16. Rubies

    Rubies Member

    I'm all for knowing what comes next, but I feel it's a real waste of my time and money to start teaching us things for 1/4 of the class that we can't do, especially at the beginning of the session. But two classes down and eight more to go!
  17. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    I bet that one difficulty for an adult group's coach is to make skaters trust in what you do and that they need to do things one step at a time and not going immediatly for complex moves they've seen on TV or done by a top skaters in front of them.
    Kids are easier for that because they have almost no experience of watching top level skaters and just listen to what coaches ask.
    Many adults want to go too fast while they are at first far from the required level for that move. They seem to not understand that from a crossover to a complex dance move there are tons of skills to learn and master.
  18. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    That's okay. I'm working on pre-silver dances, and I can't really T-stop. :lol:
  19. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!


    my biggest bruising comes from trying to snowplow. LOL. Ouch, my knees! I dont even attempt a t-stop.
    one of my hockey playing friends helped me out. she said to hold on to the boards, and then gently slide your feet out, like you are doing a stop. She said the hard part was the scraping across the ice without pressing too hard, and you can practice that standing still without risk of falling (like if you try to stop). I found this good advice for practicing!
  20. backspin

    backspin Active Member

    That's how I teach it! I'm shocked that someone expected you to do a stop actually moving before they even had you do the motion first standing still!! :eek::eek:
  21. Rubies

    Rubies Member

    I'm going to try this next week! Everything we've learned has been "Here it is- now go do it!" I need the "break it down" version :cool:
  22. Bunny_Hop

    Bunny_Hop New Member

    For snowplough stops, everyone I know uses the "half snowplough" (one foot stopping, one gliding). That way you still have a leg to stand on. I haven't really done a full snowplough since I passed the test for it.
  23. backspin

    backspin Active Member

    Good heavens, you poor people!

    Here's how I break it down (I teach it as a 1-footed stop--not the two foot thing as if you were on skis)

    1. 2 foot glide, feet together.
    2. dip (bend both knees, but keep your back straight & shoulders back)
    3. 1 foot (I use my right) turns very slightly pigeon-toed, and pushes forward & slightly to the side, resting on the inside edge, slowly extending to a straight leg. You are now on one bent leg, and one straight leg. ALL your weight is on the bent leg, and the straight leg is barely touching the ice. I tell students you're trying to shave off only the top molecules of ice.

    This takes practice & finesse to find how much pressure to put on the stopping foot (not much). And, the faster you're going, the harder it will be & the longer it takes to stop. I have students take ONE push, then go into the 2 foot prep glide.

    I hope that helps!

    ETA: you can also practice this off the ice to get used to keeping all your weight on the bent leg!
  24. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    Thank you backspin! I have practice time tomorrow and I'm going to try it just as you've written it. Since I can't stop at all (aside from slowing down or turning) a one-footed stop (we call it a hockey stop here) would be HUGE progress.

    For any of the other adult skaters who might want what I think is a great idea for their rink - I didn't think this up and it's been in place for a long time, I just get the benefit. Since lunchtime is a slow time during the week at my rink (we have no elite training that goes all day), they have one ice surface for what's called the Coffee Club - no one under 18 on the ice, no hockey at all. So it's a devoted group of adult figure skaters and actually some of the rink's coaches who work during this time period. No class, just individuals doing their separate things. It's Mon, Wed. and Fri for about 70 mins each time. Wonderful to have an all-adult ice time that's calm and uncrowded. It's also less expensive than a full public session and has a loyal group of skaters. I suppose weekday lunchtime is a loss anyhow so it makes some people very happy.

    Edited following day to add:

    The one-footed stop is harder than it sounds. That said, I made a little progress with it and backspins approach/description was perfect; my ability to implement it, not so much... I'll keep working on it!
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  25. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    It's plain dangerous too. Crossover is NOT going to happen without a secure one foot glide, your coach is calling for accidents. (to give it just one try is different from working on it for extended period of time, expecting results)

    Try convince her to divide the class up by level (at least pre-alpha from alpha) and work with each group separately. And if it cannot happen, try to switch to a different class or talk to the skating director.

    This link mentions how crucial it is to master the basics before working on crossovers by comparing ISI Learn to Skate and USFS Basic Skills curriculum. See if it helps.

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  26. Bunny_Hop

    Bunny_Hop New Member

    That's what I meant above. Thanks for explaining it so well. :) It just seems so much easier than stopping with both feet -- if you do that, there's nothing left to really balance on that's not skidding.
  27. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    That reminds me of my beginning Dance tests (ISI). It was just the dance steps - chasse's, progressives, swing rolls, forward, backward, different tempos, but at the end of each pattern, I had to do a t-stop. I always laughed watching the tape because the steps were good, but every t-stop was so wobbly, I was glad I had a partner to hold me up.

    Couldn't do the two foot snow plow either. I used to just do it on the right foot. Some things are just easier for different people than others. I was doing three turns before I even knew what they were (saw someone and copied it), but I never, ever could do an unscratchy mohawk. I loved doing Salchows but bunny hops scared me to death.