Athlete Centered Skating

The use of video (and photos) has been in use as a form of feedback to help athletes improve technical skills for half a century (Elliot and Knudson 2009).  In recent years this method has been facilitated through the use of cell phones and other mobile devices.  Video replay can be used in several ways.  The coach can analyze replay footage (after training) and determine suitable corrections to provide athletes at the next training session.  Athletes and coaches can watch video replays immediately following a performance and discuss important details.  For example, the coach can direct the athlete’s attention to specific limbs or other key body parts during the replay.  Coaches can also present footage of an expert’s performance to provide learners with a model or standard of performance to strive for. Some video software even allows side-by-side comparison of the learner’s skill performance with that of an expert, slow motion and freeze-frame capabilities.

Unfortunately, there have only been a few studies [the first conducted in 1976 (Rothstein and Arnold 1976)] that tested the effectiveness of video replay use.  Motor learning researchers agree that the use of video replay as a motor skill learning tool might seem intuitive, yet, the few studies testing video replay effectiveness demonstrate that it is only moderately effective to ineffective, and in some cases, video replay might even hinder learning (Schmidt and Lee 2005, Schmidt and Lee 2014).  Below we will briefly discuss some benefits and cautions of video replay and analysis.

The Benefits

First, we provide several benefits of video replay use below.

Presents learners with a reference level of performance

One benefit is that video replay and analysis of another skater’s performance provides learners a standard or reference of performance through which to compare their own work. This is a connection we make to the use of exemplars in academics (Sadler 2009, Handley and Williams 2011, Carless, Chan et al. 2018).  In motor learning this practice is called modeling (Schmidt and Lee 2005).  For example, when students start training new skills, coaches often show them video footage of another athlete performing the skill correctly.  This, in theory, provides the learner with an idea of what the skill should look like and even present a few clues on what needs to be done to achieve the desired behavior.

Another perspective of learning

We are huge believers in presenting learners with different perspectives through which to develop their skills.  Video replay, of either their own performances or someone else, certainly presents information differently than just the coach’s feedback or the sensory experience of performance alone.  Ultimately, the more perspectives that can be integrated with a performer’s knowledge of a skill, the better equipped that performer should be to achieve consistent performance outcomes.

Provides information that might otherwise be available

There certainly is a lot going on when an athlete practices and, given the complexity of figure skating skills, a little video analysis might help pinpoint an errant limb that is otherwise lost amongst the sensory chaos- especially when skaters are working on new skills.  This is beneficial if the coach is standing by to guide the learner toward relevant information in the video performance.

Motivational component

Nothing should be more motivating than seeing your own progress and video replay provides a clear indication of progress.  Though, this doesn’t necessarily equate to technical video analysis, it certainly can if the athlete is shown progress made on a technical intervention over a period of time – perhaps a degree of progress they might not have ‘believed’ without seeing it first.

In part 02 we will discuss some cautions of video replay and analysis.


Carless, D., K. K. H. Chan, J. To, M. Lo and E. Barrett (2018). “Developing students’ capacities for evaluative judgment through analysing exemplars.” Developing evaluative judgment in higher education: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work.

Elliot, B. C. and D. Knudson (2009). Analysis of Sport Performance. Applied Anatomy and Biomechanics in Sport. T. R. Ackland, B. C. Elliot and J. Bloomfield, Blackwell Publishing.

Handley, K. and L. Williams (2011). “From copying to learning: Using exemplars to engage students with assessment criteria and feedback.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education36(1): 95-108.

Rothstein, A. L. and R. K. Arnold (1976). “Bridging the gap: Application of research on videotape feedback and bowling.” Motor Skills: Theory Into Practice 1: 35-62.

Sadler, D. R. (2009). Transforming holistic assessment and grading into a vehicle for complex learning. Assessment, learning and judgement in higher education, Springer: 1-19.

Schmidt, R. A. and T. D. Lee (2005). “Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis.”

Schmidt, R. A. and T. D. Lee (2005). Motor Control and Learning. A Behavioral Emphasis. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics.

Schmidt, R. A. and T. D. Lee (2014). Motor Learning and Performance. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics.