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How do I join a synchro team ?
Most entry-level skaters try out for synchro after completing, or as they end, their AussieSkate or Learn-to-skate courses, at the invitation of the ISWA coaching staff. We also have some Saturday mornings in February at the start of the season as "try-out" sessions. Skaters new to WA should contact us or talk to a synchro coach if possible. We also have "Synchro Development Squad" training sessions at some rinks to help prepare skaters.
There are however other ways of entering synchro - below is a graphic which indicates some entry paths and the "line of sight" progression that is open to skaters when they join the club.
Joining any team is determined by the synchro coaching community, led by the Coaching Director, who takes into consideration factors such as skater technical and stylistic capabilities, maturity (including age), aspirations, etc.
If you do decide to join you will need to apply to be an ISWA member and agree to be bound by the ISWA Constitution, Rules and policies including the Member Protection Policy.
How are the teams selected ?
A number of factors are taken into account when the Director of Coaching and the relevant team coach allocates skaters to teams, such as
technical and interpretive skills
ability to meet the challenges of the team's development during the year, including any requisite test levels
maturity and readiness for the given team's level and environment (especially important when "skating up")
requirements of the team
Having passed certain test levels is important, but does not necessarily determine whether skaters go to certain teams.
We seek the best fit for the individual skater, in the most appropriate team environment.
At the start of the season (February) there is a period of flux as teams and skaters bed down and there may be some movement between teams at this time, and as skaters develop. There is also the opportunity mid season (June / July) for some skaters to be invited to join other team training and skills sessions, at the discretion of the coaches involved and via the ISWA Management Committee. These invitations are based on coach assessment principles similar to those above - there is more information in the next FAQ.
Are there opportunities for skaters to develop during the year ?
Skaters are encouraged to develop and extend themselves during the year. In addition to their private lessons, ISWA holds occasional camps featuring international or national coaches to extend and challenge all our teams.
In addition, synchro coaches may invite some skaters to join extension programs such as technical skills sessions, or "squadding" for a higher division team. These invitations occur from time to time, but typically in June / July, when the ISWA Club Management Committee will consider recommendations from the Director of Coaching (based on consultation with each team's coach) to invite skaters to participate in activities beyond their current team. This is not to disrupt the 'home' team dynamic but to offer extension opportunities to selected skaters, and allow them to bring extra skills back into their home team to improve overall competitiveness at National Championships. All skaters will be advised through their respective teams at the same time of the process and of any invitations made.
Selection is based on merit and aptitude and preparedness of the skater in the professional opinion of the synchro coaching staff. The ultimate arbiter on such skater invitations is the Director of Coaching. Invitations are made in the best interests of the skater. It is recognised that not all skaters will be in a position to accept the invitation.
Feel free to ask anything by email the synchro club here
Will skaters change teams each year ?
Not necessarily. Team membership depends on a number of factors such as ability, technique, maturity, readiness for the challenges, etc; and the number of places available.
While we are very "team aware" we still operate in a sport environment and there is a competitive process especially in the higher levels. Our aim is to build a continuum of teams in each division, from Development to Basic Novice through to Senior, so that skaters can smoothly progress through the divisions (and teams) in accord with their skills and maturity and preparedness.
We have a pathway from beginner through to retirement options to support our skaters (see chart above).
How much does being in a team cost ?
Each competitive team's skater is asked to commit for the season, the ultimate aim of which is to compete with teams from other states. This provides a motivation and reward for their personal and the team's hard work, and improved skills, during the year. Good life lessons - but there are some financial implications.
ISWA Controlled Expenses
ISWA membership fee of $50 - goes toward club wide expenses eg the annual club competition, trophies and international coaching camps
Competitions require registration fees, and Nationals involves skater and chaperone attendance inter-state. A program-specific costume is also purchased and is a requirement to skate in the state events
Private coaches to improve personal skills (often shared lessons which reduces costs)
WAISA membership fee - provides health insurance
ISWA and your team organise various fund-raising activities are held to defray costs and build up team bonding.
Each team organises its own budget and manages its finances, with assistance and advice available via the ISWA Management Committee. The Team Manager and Treasurer of your prospective team can provide more information.
Why isn't the team skate program fixed from the beginning of the year, and why does it change during the year ?
Each year a fresh program is devised by the coaches, to new music and new elements, adapted to the skaters' skill levels (technical and interpretive) and to the current rules issued by the International Skating Union. However at the end of the north hemisphere season ISU "tweaks" some of the rules and scoring systems, and in due course these are interpreted by judges at international competitions - which means our coaches only learn of the implications for the routine in mid calendar year for Australia.
Coaches also introduce changes as skater skills increase (especialy relevant in the younger age groups); and to keep challenging the team, both physically and mentally.
You can learn more about how programs are built and about the different elements at our Synchro Elements page.
What is a "squad member" of a team ?
Sometimes during the year a coach (only) may offer a skater the oportunity to join another team's training session with a higher level team. This offer is discussed amongst the relevant coaches and team managers before being made to the skater.
The experience can help the skater understand the challenges of the higher level and prepare them for the transition to that team in due course when they ultimately move up. This also benefits the higher team because the skater, once familiar with the routine, can participate when normal members are absent through injury or sickness.
Sometimes a modest fee is involved.
What is a "double teamer" ?
Sometimes the Director of Coaching may invite a skater to "double team" ie skate in two teams. Sometimes a skater may ask the Director of Coaching if s/he may skate in an additional team. Normally there are no weekly fees incurred by the skater in the first instance; in the latter case weekly fees can be expected, at the discretion of the team involved.
How does judging and scoring work?
Synchro skating competitions, like those in other disciplines of figure skating, are judged using the ISU Judging System that was introduced in 2004. Each element is assigned a difficulty level by the technical panel made-up of a technical specialist, assistant technical specialist and a technical controller. Each level of difficulty for a particular element corresponds to a base value. Judges assign a grade of execution from -3 to +3 to each of the elements, with 0 being the base value. Each grade of execution, or GOE, corresponds to a point value. For each element, the highest and lowest point values are dropped, and the rest are averaged. The sum of all the scores of the elements comprises the Technical Elements score. A series of five categories comprises the Program Components score. Each judge gives a score for each category. The scores for each category are calculated in the same manner as the Technical Elements score. The Technical Elements and Program Components scores are then added to form the total segment score. The team with the highest total segment wins the competition.
There, did that help any?
Behaviour and complaints ... and random compliments if you want
In any environment, but perhaps especially in a volunteer one involving different age ranges of children, tensions and misunderstandings can arise. ISWA has formal channels for grievance and dispute resolution, including an ISWA member protection officer, but most issues are resolved within the given team by a common sense framework that relies on respect for others and moderation.
If you wish to raise a problem or an issue, please also give thought to what possible solutions could be put in place.
If you have a complaint or question over behaviour, talk to your team manager. You can also discuss things in confidence with the ISWA Member Protection Officer, or the President. If matters remain unresolved there are options to introduce other arbitration practices via the ISWA Management Committee.