Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

(Originally posted on Studioveena.com)

Just a few minutes ago I was reading the "Rules and Punishment" laid down at a New Zealand pole dance studio. Quite honestly I was shocked. Push up and planks for flexed feet, negative body statements, saying can't etc?? I am going to share my thoughts coming from the viewpoint of a man and an ice hockey coach.

It sounds like U.S. Marine Corps basic training. Pretty extreme for bad dance pole form don't you think? I have been a youth ice hockey coach for more than twenty years and hold the highest certification that can be granted to an American amateur ice hockey coach. Back in the dark ages (when I was thirteen up until the late 80's) ice hockey coaches used a variety of skating drills to punish players for poor performance, misdeeds, and lazy work ethics. One of the most notorious drills was the "Herbie or Ladder" drill that was demonstrated so graphically in the movie, "Miracle" about the 1980 USA Olympic Gold Medal ice hockey team. The idea is to take away the pucks and skate a team until someone pukes. Punishment. I've been the victim and the guy who blows the whistle. In the end the method fails for the majority of the players.

What modern hockey coaches have learned over the years is that we took a skill that every player must master (skating) and made it something dreadful. The great hockey players are by and large great because they skate as naturally as they walk and they love doing it. When you look at a great pole dancers upper body and abs you have to understand that this is one of the keys to their mastery of the pole. The Push Up and Planks build this strength. Why would you want to make a dancer dread them or associate them with negativity?

Great coaches and teachers are exceptional because they do not adopt one size fits all methods or methods used by men to teach other men how to stay alive in primitive combat. A good coach understands that every person they work with needs to be motivated and reached individually. One size does not fit all and the more intelligent a person is the more they resent "punishment." It might be fun at first but I can tell you that after living a life time of push ups and Herbies in the macho world this "guy" would run, not walk out of a pole studio that had "Punishment."

One of my hardest skating drills split the team in half and had each of the players in their group push one of the hockey nets down the full length of the ice (200 ft) and back in a relay. The team who finished the relay race first got the hot water in the showers. The drill ended up being fun and encouraged team work. The players skated their hearts out in that drill and laughed the whole time. In my opinion Push Ups and Planks should be approached in a similar manner. If a dancer is saying can't or negative things it is easy to say, "Give me ten." It is hard to pull that person aside and find out what they fear or what voices from other places are talking to them from the past.

Coaching and teaching demand that coaches and teachers learn how out to get the people they mentor to do difficult things without damaging them physically or emotionally. It's much more complicated than posting a list on the wall.

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