Covid-19: Learn how this team continues to practise


Team Illumination from the Netherlands in their free program. (Credits: Jura Synchro - 2020)

Have you ever thought about creating a team puzzle? Or a magazine? These very innovative ideas come from the Netherlands. The Senior Team Illumination is started off-ice training in "social distance" mode three times a week and is developing ways to stay united.

"We are all healthy and safe. We miss each other a lot because normally we see each other 4 times a week. We miss the practices and the ice," said Team Illumination's skaters. Actually, in the Netherlands, there is an "intelligent lockdown that means that we can go outside but there are some rules", the team continues.

A 1,5 meter distance, a maximum of 5 persons, the schools and companies are closed... but all the shops are still open in the Netherlands with some rules. "They just decided that sports are allowed outdoors for children until 12 years old. For us, it means still no ice practices and that is really hard," regret the skaters.

Off-ice lessons and weekly challenges

Like many other teams around the world, Team Illumination and the other synchro teams of the club are doing online off-ice lessons with physical coaches. They are working on their strength, endurance and flexibility. The skaters organize weekly challenges to stay connected and participate in the different projects for skaters as the virtual OneTeamMovement camp or the "Keep Training" lessons from the ISU.

"In this difficult time, the best thing you can do is work on your own skills, endurance, and points that need improvement. The main goal is to get back on the ice as fit/strong as possible. Work hard, stay in touch and challenge each other to keep moving. This is the time to make the best version of yourself," said the team.

Team Illumination - Short program. (Credits: Jura Synchro - 2020)

Personal magazines
Every year, Angelique Visser, the coach of Team Illumination prepare a personal present for her team at Worlds. "In the last couple of years, we received, for example, a quartet game, a puzzle and a memory game, always with pictures of all of us as a reference to funny stories and memories. Each season, we are curious about the new present," explain the skaters.

"Trigger good memories"

This year the coach asked some friends, family and colleagues to write sweet messages and send pictures of each skater to create a personal magazine. "My team was devastated and sad about the cancellation of the World Championships and the athletes were not even able to come together, cry, discuss, be mad, hug or simply skate together to overcome the disappointment and move on because of we needed to stay at home due to the coronavirus. So I decided to make a magazine with a lot of pictures of this season to trigger good memories so they would see that despite this huge setback we still had an amazing season where we made great memories for life," continues Angelique Visser.

"My intention was to let them know that it is okay to be sad but we have to realize that we have so much to be thankful for and we need to move on and feel greatful. Next season is waiting!"

3 creative ideas to keep a team connected
Here are Angelique Visser's ideas:

A puzzle: "Of course the symbolic thought is that they are all a piece of the puzzle and everybody is just as important because only together we are a team. I printed a particular team photo as a puzzle and they had to make the puzzle together. For the juniors, I did this as well but in a different form: I made a puzzle tour with riddles, questions etc connected to a clue where they could find a part of the puzzle. (I had hidden them all over the hotel). When they fulfilled the tour they had completed the puzzle."

Memory game: "For seniors, I made this with pictures (ice, off ice, travels, etc) from that season, for juniors I used pictures from their really early childhood."

A quartet game: "This was so much fun as all the moments of that season were addressed from beautiful, funny as well as embarrassing."

"It gets harder to be original every year!" said the coach who lives in Belgium. "For me, it is both a gesture of acknowledgment to the team of the hard work the team has done during that season and the growth they have accomplished as a personal gift from me to them to express my pride. This is something that underlines and connects us as a group and the importance of everyone in it. This is a positive vibe," details Angelique Visser.

Thinking about next season
Angelique Visser's teams are already working on the new season. They will soon discuss about the themes, the program's stories and about the costumes. This week, the music for the new programs should arrive. 

Keeping one program from last season?

"It is still very unsure when we will be allowed to start practicing again. So I would like to prepare as much as we can for the new programs," the coach said. "For juniors and seniors, it will depend a great deal on what our preparation time will be. We will keep one program from last season as for sure time will be very limited and when possible I will make them both one new program. I hope it works out!"

About next season, the coach working in the Netherlands has not finalized the competition planning yet. "I have a concept planning per team and in the next couple of months when the competition calendar is more clear and we know what the consequences of the corona-crisis will be, we will decide where we go to next season."

As a coach, Angelique Visser finds really hard to have a proper calendar at the moment. "I have no idea when practice will start. In the Netherlands, they are starting with clubs for outdoor sport again so that is positive."