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Learning to Ice Skate Is as Easy as Click, Click, Click!

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In January Lynn Loar, Ph.D., came to Boston for the third round of our joint research project involving teaching non-skating adults to ice-skate, using the clicker.

This time, one of the participants was a very experienced dog clicker trainer and instructor, Mary Ann Callahan.

Mary Ann lets go of the wall

Mary Ann started out truly frightened, wobbling on rented skates, clinging to the rail, taking one tiny step at a time. A little over an hour later, she could skate. She could skate backwards. She could stop, start, and turn. She never fell down. And she did it all on her own. Here's her account of what it felt like to BE clicker trained.

"I can honestly say I would *never* have considered even putting on ice skates if not for the 'safety' I felt at the prospect of being clicker trained. And, boy oh boy, did Lynn ever deliver! I'm still grinning madly over having made a full circuit of the rink and skating across the width of the rink without touching the boards. I am SO scared/stiff/frozen when it comes to endeavors requiring physical coordination that, even as a complete clicker enthusiast, this was darn spectacular to me!

"The realization that I left there *so happy* and without one iota of my usual litany of "Yeah, but you didn't get as far as so-and-so;" or "You should have/could have done better;" etc. has me INSPIRED. These "yeah, buts" are such a common occurrence for me, even after training sessions with my own dogs, that their complete absence was an enormous experience. It is also an enormous incentive to stay focused on giving my students (and myself!) as pure clicker training as I can deliver.

The absence of any criticism made such a difference. I was truly able to progress at my own speed -- having FUN doing it. And without starting that cycle of self-berating that even the best intentioned critique can sometimes trigger for me.

THANK YOU so much for the opportunity to be clicker trained. Hadn't thought I could love clicker training more - I am just thrilled to find out it keeps getting even better! Please let Lynn know what an impact she made!!!! I had an absolutely fantastic time and left the rink positively exhilarated and inspired. If you ever have another similar project and need guinea pigs, please sign me up -- what a rush!

Mary Ann

What a huge emotional contrast to conventional coaching, with its streams of instructions and corrections. It SEEMS things would go faster when you point out the mistakes but

-how often do unathletic adults learn something as difficult as ice skating in one lesson? and

b) the whole internal experience becomes tainted.

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