Try Skating and get Scotland rolling

Date: May 2013
Location: London
Instructor Course: ICP Level 1

Report by Clive Glentworth  

My heel brake doesn't work, my feet don't come back together doing swizzles, I don't seem to be able to go faster. Do any of these complaints sound familiar? I have always tried to help other skaters when they have asked for advice and guidance but was never sure whether my way was the right way. The way I skated worked for me but how could I be sure I was giving people sound advice? My answer was to set my sights on becoming an instructor. I looked around at the various qualifications on offer and decided to go for the gold standard, the Internationally recognised Inline Certification Programme (ICP) training course.

The course I signed up for is run in London, twice a year, by Asha “Take no prisoners” Kirkby. In my opinion the best, most professional and certainly the most demanding trainer in the UK, if not Europe. After registering (and paying) using the ICP website I was sent the Instructor's manual with a full list of the skills I would be expected to demonstrate and teach and also the advanced skills to be demonstrated to my prospective students. No problem, I've got loads of time to prepare (end of January to end of April). So far, so good. Bring on the Scottish weather, so much for training outdoors!

On studying the manual I realised that I did not recognise all of the advanced skills and arranged for some one to one sessions with Don (Don Morton) to help get me up to speed. Over time I worked on my reverse swizzles, T-stops (both sides), backwards skating, forwards to backwards to forwards transitions (both sides), slalom, stride3 and backwards power slide (again both sides). As for a refresher on the beginner skills I consulted Don and also had some very helpful hints and tips from Fraser. (Fraser Macleod)

 

The course was scheduled to run from Friday 18:00 to 21:00, Saturday 08:30 to 20:30 and Sunday 09:00 to 18:00. Any thoughts about catching up with friends in London or seeing the sights went straight out of the window. This was going to be a 'full on' course without a doubt.

I made it easy on myself, travelling by train to London on the Thursday before the course, planning to return the following Monday. I am so pleased that I did. I made my way to Hyde Park on the Friday for the afternoon optional skills session, 14:00 to 16:30. I met up with five others waiting by the Boat Shed at the Serpentine and we quickly realised that we were all feeling as nervous and as apprehensive as each other. Asha arrived, made the introductions and then we were away. What a baptism of fire! Within about 30 minutes I experienced my first “what am I doing here?” moment. I couldn't skate, couldn't turn, my legs were shaking and my edges were all over the place. Should I get on the next train home, jump into the lake, or what? At the first break I turned to my fellow students and quickly realised we were all feeling the same way. It didn't make it any easier but at least we realised we were not alone. By the end of the afternoon's session I was feeling somewhat better and pleased that I had put in all of the extra hours practising beforehand.

We skated from the park to the Victoria pub (my first street skate) for a welcome break and the start of the course proper. We met the remaining five students and discovered that we were in the company of 2008 LG Action Sports World Champion, 10 x British Champion Jenna Downing! It was somewhat reassuring to realise that Asha was under pressure too with a world champion on her course. The evening's principles and theory presentation (for the written exam the following day) sent my brain into overload and I remember waking up several times in the night trying to remember what STUMP, BERP and SLAP stood for, but to no avail.

 

Back to the park on Saturday morning to learn how to teach the required basic and advanced moves for beginners. Seven moves, what could be simpler? Over the next eight hours we watched role-model demonstrations, practised, discussed, evaluated, corrected, practised, reviewed, practised, critiqued ...after the first couple of hours I was ready to get back on the train and head for home (again!). But then the benefits of working with others kicked in. We really were all in this together, with encouragement from others (particular thanks to Gregor), my morale started to pick up, my confidence returned and I realised how much I was enjoying the whole experience. We began to gel as a group, with much laughter, commiserations and a few tears of frustration all helping to bring us together. My second street skate took us over to the pub for refreshments and the written exam based on Friday's presentation and the contents of the handbook. I fell into bed around 23:00, head buzzing, knowing that tomorrow would be make or break. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep.

On Sunday morning we took turns preparing, and then delivering, a fifteen minute training session to a group of up to five trainees (fellow students) with thirty minutes notice. I had great fun being a trainee as we were asked to 'switch off', go back to being a complete novice and just do what the trainer asked us to do. I didn't have time to get uptight about my session as I was either participating as a beginner or watching how the others were running their session. Asha observed each training session marking points on her checksheet and doing what she could to ensure that the pupils presented a number of 'interesting challenges' to reflect the sort of situations we were likely to encounter in the 'real world'. My name was called and I was given the skill I had been dreading as it was the one needing most improvement. Decision time, do I leave the park now or face the fear and do it anyway? I stayed. Thirty minutes later my name was called, my trainees assembled, were briefed by Asha and then it was all up to me. All I can say is that I had a whale of a time and I like to think that my trainees did too. They transformed from hesitant beginners with some interesting 'foibles' to a group able to demonstrate that they had learnt a new skill and could execute it to a reasonable level, all in 15 minutes.

My training session was the last of the day, to be followed by the pass/fail test of the seven basic skills and an assessment (0, 1 or 2) of our advanced skills which we had seen and practised yesterday. Whilst this was being set up I overheard Jenna and some of the other skaters discussing forwards to backwards transitions and I realised that they were not sure what was expected. Clive to the rescue! I was able to explain and demonstrate the moves and within about 90 seconds they all had it nailed, unlike someone else I could mention, never mind, I was happy knowing it's not every day you get the chance to coach a world champion!

 

We ran through all of the tests, offering advice, support and encouragement to each other when needed and by 18:00 it was all over, there was nothing more we could do.

To round off the day Asha demonstrated some more advanced moves and managed to persuade Jenna and Rob (another aggressive skater) to show what they were made of. They didn't need to be asked twice, it was obvious that the two of them had been holding back for the two days as we were then treated to an impromptu demonstration of exhilarating slides, dynamic jumps and 180 and 360 degree mid-air turns, it was breathtaking, an experience that will live with me for a long, long time.

Back to the pub for individual feedback and results, some passed, some will need to try again; I passed. My skating skills have been transformed, my confidence boosted and I have made some new friends. A week-end I will never forget. Go for it.

Report by Clive Glentworth

Course Examiner: Asha Kirkby