7K Part II: Calling out the Elephant and Talking to Cones

by Mary on February 15, 2018

Kori teaching at 7K (plus a great photobomb by a friend)

At 7k, one of the things coach Kori asked us is “What is the elephant in the room?” What’s that important skill that you know you really need to work on in your skating, that’s holding you back, that you are not addressing? Why not? When are you going to address it? Yes, it takes a long time to improve skills in skating but “don’t drag it out, don’t make it take longer than it has to.”

Once you’ve identified the skill you need to address, how are you going to change? Kori has a lot of fun ways to get her skaters to concentrate and to work efficiently. I’ve adapted one of her methods for getting the most out of practice and am using it every day. I may not remember it completely correctly, but what I’m doing is working for me.

She has her skaters state their intention of what they are about to do and gives them three chances to do it before they have to move on. In her fun, slightly woo parlance, she calls it “talk to the cone.” The three chances are represented by a stack of three orange cones like you might find lying around an ice rink.

The skater states the skill they are going to attempt to one of the cones, then tries it. If they don’t make their first attempt, they lose a cone. If they make their second attempt, I think they get a cone back. The goal is to do the skill successfully three times in a row before losing all the cones. As long as you don’t miss the skill three times in a row, you keep getting chances.

I’m using this method myself, though without an actual physical object. For example, today as I worked on the eight-step mohawk I started by working on the transition from step 7 to step 8. I resolved to stay on a good edge, keep my free foot close to the skating foot, and turn the skating foot sufficiently before stepping forward. Not as dramatic a goal as “land my double axel,” but it’s where I’m at.

I set my mind to that and worked until I did the transition correctly three times in a row in each direction. Then I set a new goal of bending my knee more and extending the free leg diagonally into the circle as I stepped onto step 8. And so on.

By making me think that if I don’t try hard I might not get to work on a skill for as long as I want, the ‘cone’ method helps me focus and have a higher success ratio. It helps me really think about what I’m doing and cuts down on ‘working’ on a skill without actually improving.

For this method to succeed you have to want to work on the skill. And that’s what makes us skaters, that we do want to do this, that we have these obsessive minds that enjoy hashing out details, at least within the world of skating. How about it, skating friends, am I right, do you obsess over every little thing in your skating? Running friends, can you relate or is your sport totally different?


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo February 16, 2018 at 4:00 am

Oooh, I really like this post. It has got me thinking that I need to get to the harder things early in my practice session, rather than going through the easy things first. Will definitely give my “elephants” some thought and report back! Thanks, Mary!
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Mary February 17, 2018 at 2:14 am

Cool! I’d love to connect on the topic of our elephants and how we plan to engage with them!


Eva at Eva Bakes February 16, 2018 at 10:02 pm

What a great practice method! I like the visual of losing a cone and gaining it back. My coach tried a more disciplinary method, where if I missed an element, I had to execute it three more times. Every miss = 3 more to do. It teaches your body to do it correctly so you don’t have to keep doing the element again!

PS. I have waaaaaaay too many elephants in the room. They are squishing me. LOL.
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Mary February 17, 2018 at 2:19 am

Kori is a very positive coach, I can’t see her doing anything that smacks of punishment (see what I did there?). I have a herd of elephants too but if I allowed all of them to become visible I too might be squished. Better to engage with one at a time.


Wynne February 22, 2018 at 1:09 am

This is a really helpful idea, thanks! I can see this help in reducing my bad habits and half-efforts.


Mary February 25, 2018 at 4:26 am

I hope it helps you Wynne! Let me know how it goes!


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