Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Adult Nationals Weekly Series #6: Paul Wylie’s Presentation

Paul with National Champion Dawn Feest

The U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championship Week was full of amazing skating performances, S.T.A.R.S. Off-Ice Testing, a Dick Button book signing, and award ceremonies crowning National Champions.

A highlight of the weekend was a presentation by American figure skater and 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie.

Paul used to train at the Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis under Olympic and World Skating coaches Evy and Mary Scotvold and has also worked with the famous Dr. Igor Burdenko, developer of the Burdenko Method.  Paul made a quick visit to the Hyannis Youth and Community Center in Hyannis, MA for just enough time to speak about functional training, different training approaches, and fitness as a lifelong journey.

“The Burdenko Method is a natural part of what I do.  I incorporate his exercises into my warm up routine backstage before I go on the ice,” said Paul.  Burdenko exercises are dynamic and very sport-specific. 

“Working the whole body in different directions and at different speeds are principles of the Burdenko Method that translate exceptionally well for figure skaters who work slowly and gracefully and move into fast dynamic movements while changing directions,” said Joe Carroll PT DPT, owner of Cape Cod Rehab Physical Therapy and Master Burdenko Method Instructor.

When Paul first began skating, training was about trial and error and driven by urgency.  Paul admitted to overtraining and little to no recovery time. 

His quote of the day was, “Stress without recovery is the enemy!” 

Training “in the olden days” was like cramming for a test.  If there was a competition coming up, skaters went through their routines time after time, jump after jumps.  They knew they had to incorporate weight lifting and ballet but no one knew how much or how often.  He was on rollercoaster battling body weight and body image.  Too much weight lifting would bulk up a skater and too much ballet would also harm skating aesthetics.  It was about trial and error and seeing what didn’t work.

Now training figure skaters has taken a more integrated approach driven by goals and personal plans.  Everything is sport-specific and individualized.  Skaters work with a team of professionals working toward a common goal.  A plan is developed for the season, off-season, career, and a plan for WHEN they get injured – because it’s going to happen at some point!

Paul credited Dr. Burdenko’s 6 Essential Qualities of Life and Sport:
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Speed/Quickness
  • Strength

“Build on the basics to become extraordinary from the ground up,” said Paul.

A lot of figure skating and sport is mental.  Motivation requires 3 things: competence, autonomy (“it’s my choice”), and relatedness.  There are certain questions you need to ask yourself every time you walk into the gym or ice rink.

“What can I accomplish today?”
“What excuses do I make on a daily basis?”
“Who do I admire?  What qualities do I admire about them?”
“How can I continuously improve?”

Paul’s talk was very motivational and encouraging.  If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, you won’t want to miss it.

Final thoughts from Paul: Ballet was the Russian Secret Weapon.

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

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