When to Change Coaches

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by HeManSkaterDad, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    If there is a similar thread elsewhere, I apologize in advance (the search function is not working for me).

    I am very interested to get the perspective of skaters, parents and coaches for their thoughts on when it is time for a skater to move on to a new coach. More specifically, I think everyone knows when it is obvious, such as either the skater or coach is not showing up or isn't really trying, or the skater is not paying. Instead, what about the more subtle situation where skater and coach are each putting in the effort, but the fire seems to be gone, or there are more and more strategic/creative differences, or more disagreements on goals/timing or even cultural differences are starting to become a bigger issue. The type of situation where there is nothing specific to point at to justify a change, but at the same time you are no longer happy with it.

    If it is not obvious, I feel like our family is approaching such a situation. Adding to the dilemma is that these are coaches we have been with for many years, from our first MIF test through several appearances at Junior Nationals, and they are generally regarded as the best in the rink, if not the area. So just switching to another coach is not an appealing, nor is picking up the family to move to be close to another coach.

    Thus, I would greatly appreciate hearing the thoughts and experiences of others of how they knew they had reached the point that they needed to move to another (lesser/unknown) coach or relocate to be with a new coach.
     
  2. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    (Mods: This probably needs to move to MITF)

    I'm speaking as a close relative of a former skater who faced the same situation. In our case, the skater chose to stay with Coach A and add Coach B in order to stay at the same facility. When Coach B left, she retired rather than commute 2 hours each way to get an equivalent coach. She "retired" at 14. She really didn't have any aspirations to train towards international competition and didn't want to miss the high school experience.
     
  3. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    IME it is best for everyone to be honest in this situation. Have you spoken to the coaches about your perceptions? If not, it might be worthwhile to arrange a meeting with them (not a rushed conversation at the boards during a break, but a scheduled sit-down meeting). I would emphasize the good work they have done with your skater in the past and how much you appreciate that, but also express your concerns about the "fire being gone", and ask for their perspective on that. You don't have to do it in a "get it together or we're leaving" kind of way - actually, you shouldn't do it that way. Look at it as mutual problem-solving. And it could be that the coaches are feeling stuck too.

    If it ends up that you have to find another coach, I would ask these coaches for recommendations. They obviously know your skater very well and would probably know which other coaches your skater would be comfortable working with.
     
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  4. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    Thanks to both of you (Aceon6 & overedge) for the insights. We have had a couple of 'sit-downs' to discuss how things are going, and they improve for a few days but then seem to slide even further. My gut feeling, and maybe others have experienced it, is that a great deal of this stems from cultural/experience differences. Our coaches come from a system where they were plucked from their homes, everything was paid for by the State and the coaches/federation made all the decisions without input from the parents. I am sure you can guess the country. My understanding is it was also extremely rigid, stressful and probably cruel, particularly when many of those skaters had very little prospects outside of skating. Of course, that led to many very driven, determined skaters who could be treated poorly and yet still be motivated. Our coaches have certainly adapted to many western ways, but my impression is they would like to have the same autonomy in decision making and expect the same level of motivation but are sometimes at a loss as to how to instill it, so they revert to an authoritarian tough love approach. Throw in different first languages, and the message is not always clear.

    On our side, I am sure every parent out there thinks their skater is the greatest, most driven and talented skater there is, they only just need the right coaching and maybe just a few more lessons. I get to write the checks for all of that, so I expect that the skater (and parents) will have a fair amount of input and be treated like the customer. It is a fine line, because as someone who grew up loving and living sports, I know that tough coaches tend to get more and better out of their athletes. I also know, however, there is a line between being tough, being cruel and just being harsh but ineffective, and that line is not always clear.

    The result is we appreciate the coaches' drive and desire, and I believe they are holding our skaters to a higher expectation than younger skaters (not a problem) and doing what they can to achieve the results they expect. The problem is we are beginning to question their effectiveness, and we just don't know what to measure it against nor if there is even a better option. So I am back to the title of the thread, when to change coaches, or maybe it should be how do we know if we have outgrown our coaches.

    Thanks for listening to my ramblings, and any feedback is most appreciated.
     
  5. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Is there a summer skating camp at a training center away from home your skater could try for a week or so to get a sense of other approaches, even if that's not an option long term? Of course at this point it might be tricky to arrange for this summer.
     
  6. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    ^^Along similar lines to gkelly's suggestions, maybe there is a coach in your area who would be willing to give your skater one or two lessons per week for a while, in addition to their lessons with their current coaches. Sometimes if a skater has been working with the same coach for a very long time, working with a different coach even briefly can help them identify what type of coaching they like and don't like, and that in turn can improve how they work with their longtime coach.

    The only difficulty with this is that the longtime coaches might object to the skater going to someone else, even if it is just for additional lessons. If that is the case - well, ultimately as the cheque-writer it's up to you who coaches your child, but a good coach should not have a problem with this if you are clear that it is to give the skater some different perspectives and advice to improve their skating, which will then benefit the longtime coach.
     
  7. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure whether you feel that your children are being treated too harsh (to the point of the coaches being abusive), or whether it is more that the coach is the one who is making the decisions regarding your skater and you feel that you/your skater should have more input into the decision making. While I disagree with abusive or too harsh behavior from coaches towards the student, the coach has to be strict. This sport is cruel. Because judges can play things in slow motion, it shows a lot of tiny faults that may be missed by a casual observer. So while the casual observer would see a clean program, coach may tell the student that this really was not good enough, because (for example) the spin had not enough revolutions and therefore won't count. Also, even tiny bits of point deducted may loose the skater a medal, and IJS system actually concentrates on nitpicking and noticing of even tiny details, such as "was the jump really fully rotated? Did it take off from the correct edge?" That in turn can make coaches to be super strict because what they could potentially get away when they were competing is suddenly not good enough. So now the skater may feel that they have done a good job, and the coach start listing the mistakes/deductions according to the strict IJS... the sport is harsh.

    In regards to being frustrated that the coach is the one who is making the decisions regarding your skater and you feel that you/your skater should have more input into the decision making - this is a complicated matter. On one side you are right, you are paying for it and you feel that things should be your way. On the other hand, you are paying a professional to give you the best professional advice, based on their experience and their qualification. Imaigne hiring a lawer to represent you at court. You hire the best specialist that is around, but then you start telling him how to do his job. You start advising him what you want him to say at court...that may make his job completely impossible. The same if you go to a doctor and want him to treat something, but at the same time you start instructing him how to treat it. I believe that it is about trust - you hired the professionals, you said about the coaches that they are the best in the rink, so you may have to trust them that they know what they are doing. Alternatively, if you feel you can't trust them, it is better to find someone else. However, I am not sure if sooner or later there won't be the same issue even with the new coaches. I have had several coaches, and they all seem to have in common that it is their way or no way. They listen to my opinion, but what they decide is what we do.

    Also, the coaches have vested interest in your skater doing well. It reflects well on them if their students are progressing well. It is their livelihood, so they do have your child's best interests in their heart, especially with a skater at junior or senior level. So have you considered that maybe the decisions your coach is making are actually in the best interest of the skater? Their way may be the way to make the skater as best as possible, even if you or the skater doesn't like it. For example, sometimes I may not like doing field moves because I want to do program run throughs, but if the coach says that we are doing field moves, the reason may be that we are doing it because I need it, no matter whether I like doing them. So I won't be saying that I am paying for the lesson and that's why I want to pick what we work on; I will do what the coach says I should do.

    You have spent a lot of money on skating over the years (judging from the fact that your child is at junior level), so maybe it is a good time to think what is the goal. If the goal is a recreational skating (having enjoyment from skating without worrying whether the skater is improving, learning new things and without worrying about results at competitions), then you are definitely right and the coach should just do what you want them to do. However, if you want your child to her as high results as possible, you may have to let the coach use their experience and qualification and let them do their job. And if you don't believe that they are doing it properly, change coaches.
     
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  8. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    "Junior Nationals" in the U.S. system means nationals at the juvenile and intermediate (pre-novice in Canada) levels.

    An obvious observation from a fan: I think it's also important to talk honestly with your skater(s) and get an idea of what he and/or she is (or are, if there is more than one) feeling about the current coaching situation. Some kids want to please their parents and coaches and may not want to speak freely if they are unhappy, not enjoying skating, etc. Plus, there's always pressure on skaters who have qualified for nationals at these lower levels to "keep up their good results" and so coaches, parents and skaters need to set realistic goals each season and "be on the same page" as much as possible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  9. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    Thanks for everyone's input, this comment particularly caught my attention, as it is the exact opposite of what I told my wife this morning.

    I am in a position where I hire and work closely with attorneys, accountants and architects. The services provided by these professionals, like skating, involve making subjective judgments and decisions, so I see a great deal of similarities. I often make the recommendation of whom to hire, I am the gatekeeper for information and then counsel on whether to follow their advice. My experience has been that the best professionals are open to suggestions on how to achieve the desired result, and will at least discuss and explain why a suggestion is not the best option. I pay these professionals to do two things, first give me their best advice on how to accomplish a goal, which includes some back and forth answering my questions and feedback about the process. Second, to proceed based on the course of action I (the client) have decided is the best. The conversation and comments I seem to be hearing, such as the above quote, is that many of the coaches have a 'my way or the highway' type of approach and are not as open to such a dialogue. That is probably the biggest issue I have with our coaches. I'm not looking to teach a jump or a spin, but when I think there are better strategy for something like a a program or motivating a skater, I expect my suggestion to be given serious consideration. Am I that far out of line, or my coaches the exception or is this what I should expect from high level coaches?
     
  10. misskarne

    misskarne #408

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    Yes, you are out of line.

    What qualification do you have to decide that your idea of a program strategy is better than the coaches'? What's the point of even bothering to hire or ask the coaches if you're just going to decide what's best?

    Okay, your kid has Russian (or former Soviet) coaches. (You know, you could have just said that in the first post, we all would have known what you meant.) Now, I can see two possibilities here:

    1. The coaches are really harsh and cruel and unreasonable, and you and your child are struggling with that

    OR

    2. The coaches, while firm and strict, are not unreasonable, just expect hard work, and you are struggling with that.

    I'll be honest, I've seen a LOT of parents confuse 2 with 1. A LOT. Especially with Russian (or former Soviet) coaches who are renowned for being strict. That was why when I chose my coach, I chose a Czech (former Soviet) coach for that very reason. She's a little softer than the Russian coach, but not by much, and is certainly harder than the other coaches. Because I knew I needed someone to push me, someone who wouldn't coddle me if I got lazy, someone who would tell me to "suck it up, princess!" (not in so many words of course) and get on with it.

    Being honest again, what I am seeing in your posts is an entitled customer attitude. I would shudder to have met someone like you when I was still working in retail. You very much seem to have the "customer is always right NO MATTER WHAT" attitude that I loathed so much. You believe that because YOU are paying, you know better than the person you are paying and you expect that the coach will defer to your opinion.
     
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  11. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I sense mounting frustration on your part with this coach, but how does the skater feel? Since you aren't able to relocate, unless the skater is unhappy and wants to change I think you may be throwing the baby out with the bath water. You may find a coach who is more diplomatic, but I don't think you are going to find a coach who enjoys having you make suggestions for program strategy or how to motivate their student (however well-intentioned). You wouldn't go into your child's classroom and tell the teacher a better way to present the materials (and you might be right). The coach is ultimately accountable for the skater's results and they have to use the methods that work for them as well as for the skater. If the skater isn't happy with their results or training environment then it is time to move on.
     
  12. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    A little harsh in the delivery, but not a problem, because I asked for it. Besides, I have very thick skin. I think you miss my point, though. I did not say they must use my strategy nor did I say mine was better, I said I expect my suggestions to be given serious consideration. I know I am not always right, but I also know that I am sometimes and that the professionals are sometimes wrong. Does it not make sense to discuss an idea, a strategy, a piece of music, or whatever, debating various options until the best emerges, regardless of the source?

    Your questions of my qualifications is a little self-servingly specific. Instead, let me list the credentials I think entitle me to have my suggestions take seriously. Former high school. college and semi-pro athlete (knows what it is like to be an athlete), former college assistant coach (knows what it is like to be a coach), law degree (knows how to interpret rules), engineering degree (knows how to do math and technical analysis), a decade as a skating fan (knows enough to discuss intelligently), parent (knows my skaters very well), bank (writes the checks). In a nutshell, I think I am knowledgeable enough about athletics in general and skating in particular to have a voice in the conversation. Simply saying the coaches are the experts, therefore we must do what they say without questions is flawed logic. It is argumentum ab auctoritate, the logical fallacy of assuming someone in authority or a position of expertise must be right. If someone thinks their idea is better than mine, all I ask is they explain why.

    Finally, I am not sure where you decided that the only two scenarios are that either they are abusively harsh or we are overprotective. That is a false dichotomy. While they can be tough, I've seen and played for much worse. If it were abusive, I would not have to ask what to do. The cultural differences I was referring to is I think Americans are much more receptive to directly questioning and challenging authority (in this case, coaches) while the Russians feel they should be given more deference, and I am not saying either is right or wrong. Regardless, we genuinely like our coaches and greatly appreciate what they have done for our kids in the last five years. That is what makes this so hard, it is like the beginning of the end of a relationship when you are asking if you can make it work, can it be saved, is it something I did, or is it better to just break up when you are still on good terms. I don't know the answer, I just know doesn't seem right.
     
  13. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    I agree the skater should have a large say in such a decision, which is partially what prompted me. I try to watch 2-3 practices a week, but working 60+ hours means I have to rely on the skaters and mom to tell me what is happening on daily basis. They are coming home unhappy and less motivated, if not demotivated. I see a real love for skating in my kids, but I have always told them when it is not fun anymore, they should quit. I won't make them skate if they do not want to, I have seen enough talented friends lose their love of a sport because of overbearing parents. I just want to be sure it is not lack of motivation or improper motivation driving them away.

    You are also probably right that many coaches will not welcome suggestions on how to motivate their students, but I just cannot wrap my head around any good reason they should not at least listen and if they hear something that makes sense, use it. I just hate when someone is so arrogant they refuse to use a good idea because it was not theirs.

    Thanks again for all of your comments.
     
  14. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it is just arrogance, most full-time coaches have so many students and parents to listen to they get overwhelmed with advice. It's unfortunate, but coaches don't get paid for their down time at the rink or when everyone goes out of town in the summer, so they usually schedule as many lessons as they can when they have the chance.

    Sometimes a skater just outgrows a particular coach. It doesn't mean anyone did anything wrong. It sounds like your family wants a more active role and this coach isn't open to it.
     
  15. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    I am really sorry, I have to say that from your post I felt the same. The difference between retail and taking any lessons from someone (no matter if in ballet, dance lessons, skating lessons, music lessons) is that in retail the customer is always right, whereas when having lessons with someone, the coach/teacher is the one who is always right. If you think that he/she isn't, why do you bother paying for the lessons? Just teach your kid yourself if you know better! In skating, the coach is responsible for the results, so you want to make decisions, but it will be your cach's fault if it doesn't work out well?

    I agree.

    Well, I read a few times the qualifications you listed - sorry to be to the point, but one wonders why you don't teach the child yourself. It really makes impression that you know the best (or at least you think so). Having degree in law and in engineering does not make you an expert on skating. Neither does being a former high school. college and semi-pro athlete and former college assistant coach (unless you were actually assistant coach in skating). Being a parent and a bank definitely does not make you an expert. If you use all the listed qualification (especially being a former semi-pro athlete and former college assistant coach) to motivate your child, you may not have problem with the child's motivation any more. Maybe, if you want your suggestions to be taken seriously, you should become a technical specialist. Learn all the rules very well, pass the test... Then you will have the right qualification and I am sure EVERY coach will listen to you!

    I have never had Russian coach but all my past and present coaches are the ones making the decisions. If they are telling me that I am not ready for test, I won't go for test yet. If they decided a day before the competition that I should withdraw, because I am not ready, I would do so. I don't think what you are describing is attributed to cultural differences; I think it is how it works in skating, ballet and any form of dancing lessons, no matter on the nationality of the coach. So even if you change, sooner or later the same problem will appear again. Maybe if you find some inexperienced coach, you will be able to have more input (because the coach would be aware that he/she is lacking experience and may be willing to try anything), but especially with higher level coaches you may have to accept that it is their way or go somewhere else. And it is not as easy to find a good coach!

    You mentioned that the coach is strict/too strict and the child is not motivated. Have you thought about what is your role and what is the coach's role? The coach is paid to be brutally honest with your kid. If the spin was not low enough, or if the jump was underrotated, or take off from a wrong edge, the coach will criticise it. The coach wants the child to improve, so their job is to tell the child everything that was wrong in the program (even if it is a long list and makes it hard to listen to it). It sucks, but their job is to criticise and be very strict. Your job, on the contrary, is to keep telling the child how great he/she is and to list all the little things you loved. (Sort of like "a good cop and bad cop"). You have to explain to the child that if after skating a program the coach did not criticise anything (or even said 'that was alright'), it actually means "I like it, I am happy with what you have just done and I haven't found anything to criticise". Which is actually the highest praise. If the child is not motivated, it seems to me that the coach is doing his/her job but you are not doing enough of yours. There needs to be a balance. The coach will probably not praise a beautiful spiral in a program if the child also missed two jumps. The coach will concentrate on the jumps because the child can do the spiral for several years and for the coach it is not an achievement. It is up to you to mention that the spiral was beautiful. It is also up to you to motivate a child that is loosing their motivation. Put in place small rewards for small things. For example, when he/she lands a new jump, you will get him the new leggings that he/she wanted for a while. What would you do if your child lost motivation at school? You would probably find a way how to motivate him/her, for example you may promise that if he/she achieves this and that, you will ... (take them to a theme park or do any activity or outing he/she wants to do). I know that your child is doing this as a hobby, but any hobby (any sport or music lessons or language lessons) become a hard work if one takes it seriously. Doing it as a hobby means doing it recreationaly and not worrying about results or progress; that's a hobby. But doing it seriously and wanting to qualify for nationals - it is suddenly not a hobby, it is a hard work, and no one can be constantly motivated to work hard. So maybe the problem is that your child needs from you more support to remain motivated?
     
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  16. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

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    But I don't think that's necessarily right. It assumes that a teacher is always 100% right, what if they are not? In fact as humans we're all fallible so everyone is going to get something wrong at some point, and I think the point the original poster is making is - what do you do when things are going wrong or at least not working optimally? How do you address them? He's already said that when they have discussed it, things get better for a short while then they lapse back.

    That to me shows that there are improvements that could be made, and that things do work when they try.

    It is not a simple two options -(A) the teacher is always right or (B) teach the child yourself. There's the gulf of grey in between, that might be that the teacher is more or less right, but the way they are teaching no longer connects with the child, or maybe the teachers way works for children aged 5-12 but not adolescents or any other number of other issues. We all know there is not a single blueprint that works for teaching skating - there's not even a consensus between coaches on how to teach some of the basic elements, and you can get as many different opinions on something like jump technique as the number of people you ask.

    I actually think both your response and misskarne's are jumping to the conclusion that this is some nightmare skating parent, where nothing in the posts have suggested that to me. Both of your responses are taking two extreme positions and incorrectly presenting them as the only two options.

    I don't know of a single professional services relationship where a dialogue with the "customer" (be it retail, attorney-client, doctor-patient) is not actively encouraged, and in this case it is no different just because the client is underage and therefore the parent is seeking the input and dialogue. I don't know any profession that say my way or the highway....because you would not get much repeat business if that was the attitude.
     
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  17. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    repeated post
     
  18. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    antmanb, I am not assuming anything. I have no idea what sort of 'skating parent' the poster is. But the poster has asked for an opinion and I am telling him based on my experience how things work here. They may work differently where you live, but the bottom line is that there is not enough coaches and there is plenty of skaters wanting lessons. So how it works here is that you will do what your coach asks you to do, or find yourself another coach. The coaches here can't be bothered with students who think they know better. To be fair, the coaches listen to the students/parents, but they will do what they think is best, not what the student/parents want. (a bit like in a parent-child relationship - parents listen but they will make the final decision no matter if the child likes it or not). But maybe wherever you live it is different.

    In regards to 'coach is always right' - yes, there are instances where coach isn't right, as you said, they are just humans as we are. But (again based on my experience) there is no 'democracy' in coach-student relationship, especially with the higher level coaches. So at some stage the poster may have to accept that or they may decide to change a coach. But the same issues may then appear again and again.

    And posting here qualifications like I am an ex-athlete, I have two degrees and I am a parent and a bank - I am sorry but that seemed to me a bit arrogant to believe that either of those qualifications would help the posters know what the child should work on in skating. Neither of the qualification has anything to do with the actual skating!
     
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  19. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

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    But that's what I'm not getting from the poster's posts - he is not saying that he knows better than the coach, that's the assumption that I read in both yours and misskarne's posts - that the OP says he knows better. When he hasn't said that once. He is trying to get a perspective on the coach-student relationship with an eye on what's happening with his child. If anything I'm hearing that suggestions have been made, they have been implemented, things have gotten better, then the coach has reverted to their old ways, and things slip back. I don't see an attitude of thinking the parent knows best.

    And I would disagree with your assessment of how coaches work. I've worked with three coaches in two different rinks here where I am, and not one of them has taken the attitude that that i'm not allowed to make suggestions for my own skating (something the OP is making about his child's skating). I do know better than them about certain things - my own body, its limitations, my mental frame of mind, how I learn, how best to instruct me so I learn (repeatedly demonstrating something and expecting me to simply mimic doesn't work for me, whereas it really does for some people), there's a whole host of things that require my input, not because I think I know better than the coach, but because teaching is IMO always better done using a collaborative approach, than a dictatorial one, and the older you get the more that is true, which is why I say, some coaches are really good at teaching young kids and only young kids because of this. Some coaches are really bad at teaching adults because they try to use the same model and style as they do for kids.

    Again I disagree - the democracy is the conversation that coach and pupil or coach and parent have, if the parent doesn't like it they take their money elsewhere (as you pointed out) - pretty much exactly a democracy. And again - suggesting that "the same issues may then appear again and again" shows me that you have made an assumption about this situation, given that the OP has not said this has happened before or with another coach etc. You're extrapolating future problems, where none have been hinted at.

    See - i'm right - you are judging the OP and making assumptions. And the OP didn't randomly post the qualifications. Misskarne directly (in a pretty hostile post no less) asked him:

    So he responded with his thoughts.
     
  20. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    That's your right to disagree. I am telling the poster about my experience on how it works, but I am not claiming that it works like this in every part of this country and in every country.

    I am not discussing here theories about whether it is right that 'coach is always right', I am saying from my own experience on how it works here. It does not have to necessarily mean that I like it, or that it is right, or whether it is fair, it is just how it is here. As I wrote in several post - the coach does listen, but does not necessarily decides whatever I want, so although there is a communication, in reality I do what I am told. So no matter if you like it, or I like it, it is the coach who makes the decision. And yes, I do expect the poster to have the same problems with other coaches in the future if he expects more equal relationship with the coach, because based on my experience such relationship won't happen (unless the poster get some qualification connected with skating, such as becoming a judge or technical specialist).

    Of course, you are right. You are always right! :rolleyes: A few years ago I posted here that at our rink there are mostly non British skaters in the morning and wondering where the British are. You argued about how it is not true. Well, the ratio of British and non British from our rink attending this year's adult nationals...oh well... I think you have right to have any opinion you want to have, but maybe it would be a good idea to think about what you are saying (and maybe also sometimes check the facts). You could also start with 'testing' your coach suggesting what you are going to do. Let's see how long you will remain a student of that coach.
     
  21. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    I think we can all agree that a professional who knows skating technique is needed to teach skating technique, and that a parent without that knowledge is not in a position to teach technique themselves. Which is why they hire coaches.

    There are other functions that skating coaches provide, some of which any given parent may or may not also be able to provide.

    Getting a technical specialist appointment requires preexisting knowledge of skating technique and prior accomplishment as a competitor and/or coach oneself, so just learning the rules will not qualify one to be a technical specialist any more than it would qualify one to be a coach.

    Non-skater parents who want to be knowledgeable about skating technique or program construction can educate themselves about the rules, may be able to attend some coach-oriented seminars, and can train as judges in the US.

    But all the knowledge in the world gained from watching, evaluating, and reading won't give them the knowledge to teach how to perform a move, which is the primary function of the coach. On learning technique, a nonskater parent should absolutely defer to the coach.

    On program construction and overall strategy they can learn enough to have a conversation of equals. Some parents do, some don't. Ideally, IMO, coaches should be able to include parents in the conversation to a degree appropriate to whatever level of knowledge the parents possess, and share their own knowledge in broad terms (i.e., explain the system to new parents and explain their strategies), and encourage parents to learn through other means as well.

    On setting goals that fit in with the rest of the skater's life and the family's overall goals and resources, and working with the learning style of a specific student at a specific level of maturity, parents often have more relevant information specific to this skater than the coaches do.

    That's why two-way communication can be valuable.

    It sounds like this parent wants more communication and the coaches want less. I don't know that there's an easy way to solve that problem if the coaches are unable to adapt their approach to this parent's and this skater's needs, and there are not other coaches nearby who can provide comparable technical expertise.
     
  22. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    Here you can become a skating coach only if you pass level 6 in that discipline, so one needs to be able to skate. But for Tech Spec as far as I know one doesn't need to pass any skating tests here.
     
  23. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

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    :rolleyes: I'm fairly certain in that discussion I was disagreeing about my own rink not yours. But since you're the queen of last words by all means reply to this so you can have at it. I think it's best to add you to my ignore list because you're just insufferable.
     
  24. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    Unless she's someone from the Soviet block who moved to the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia later in life, not sure how that would have been possible ;).

    In the end, what you want out of your coach depends on what your end goals are. A lot of Eastern European coaches have a hard time looking at skating as a recreational sport since that concept never existed in their country when they coached there. I'm pretty lucky since the part of the US where I skate has plenty of coaches on offer who are on-point and give helpful advice, without the yelling and berating insults that some of the Russian coaches resort to. There are also quite a few great Russian coaches who took the best out of the Soviet system in terms of expecting good technique and knowing how to zone in on that. One of my adult skating friends used to take lessons from a well respected Russian coach who was a big fan of putting skaters down in order to get them motivated (negative reinforcement ftw and all that comes along with it). She was frustrated and didn't really enjoy skating any more. She ended up changing coaches after a morning session at our uni where we had this conversation while working on her lutz
    Me: Lutz wasn't terrible, but you really should try
    Her: Oh, thank you so much
    Me: :confused: wtf look
    Her: You said it was very good
    Me: No, I said not terrible. And there's an issue if you think that's an amazing compliment.

    She now takes lessons from a more laid back coach, who focuses on artistic interpretive programs and MITF and loves skating again. Of course, that's not an option with someone who's at the junior level and plans to compete since HeManSkaterDad mentioned working on a program. I don't really know what their coaching options are, but the current coach must have done some things right to get the skater up to junior FS. That said, it's also possible they've outgrown the working relationship. Would it be possible to continue working with the current coach on jumps/spins and have a different coach work on programs/choreography? Sometimes ice dancers are very good at that, if your rink has any available.
     
  25. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    It almost sounds like a simple personality mismatch. If the original poster's skater & coach just don't "get" each other--whether they never did, or because things have changed and now they just don't mesh well--then it sounds like a different coach, or an additional coach, would be helpful. Clear goals are always good, too--not sure if the skater/coach/parents have talked about what the skater wants to accomplish. Best of luck to OP and skater.
     
  26. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

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    I suppose it could be possible. Russians occupied that country for over 20 years, so the coach could have come there as a spouse of a soldier and then just stay there. Ukolova who competes for Czech Republic also used to be Russian.
     
  27. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    First, thanks to everyone for your opinions, regardless of where they fall. It is these types of passionate back-and-forth expressions of opinions that I think generate and lead to the best solutions. With the foregoing qualification, and without malice, Hanca, I appreciate your opinion but I do not agree with its basic premise, which your succinctly stated as:

    I do not do just do as I am told, at least not just because it is from an authority figure. The 'because I said so' reasoning never works with me, I want to know and understand why. Sometimes it is obvious and needs no explanation (directions from the police, etc.) but when it is not, the expert should be able to explain why their decision is best. Then, I will decide (emphasize on it is my decision) whether to go with it and live with the consequences. If they do not (or worse, cannot) explain, then how much of an expert are they really? Or what if it is not a clear decision and requires a balancing of various subjective factors.

    Consider this example: someone takes a child to the doctor, he makes a serious diagnosis about the child and then says, "we can give the child chemo, they will be miserably sick for 6 months of every year until remission (if ever) and there is a 20% chance it will kill the child in the next 5 years; or we can not do chemo, the child will not have any symptoms but there is a 50% chance the child will die in 2 years. As your doctor, I have decided we are doing chemo." Do you do as your are told then? It would not be wrong to say yes, as some medical ethicists believe the doctor should be able to overrule the parent because they are the expert. However, there are also many who believe the parents should have the final say (fyi, these basic facts are from a real, and sad, case where the doctors sued to force chemo when the parents refused. The parents reasoned that living well for 2 years was better than throwing up for 2.5 out of 5 years just to get a little better odds). For myself, I think I am in the best position to weigh the various factors and make that kind of a decision for my child.

    While not as dire, I see my relationship with the coaches in a similar light. Give me the alternatives, please tell me what you suggest and more importantly why, but I (and as they mature, the skaters) will make the final decision. It may not be obvious from my prior posts, but I am not looking to micro-manage the coaches and tell them how to run every little detail, I do not have the time, desire or technical skills for that. However, just because I cannot teach a jump does not mean I cannot tell the difference between a Lutz and a flutz. I do not claim to know it all, and I do not claim to know more than the coaches. However, I do claim to know enough to speak intelligently about skating. Because I can, plus because they are my kids and it is my money, I want to be involved in and believe I am entitled to and qualified to have a significant say in the big decisions.

    I can understand that there are probably many coaches who would prefer not to have a working relationship as I would prefer it, and instead be the unquestionable experts. What worries me is that this may be the norm and not the exception. I hope it is not, as I do not think that would be good for skating.
     
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  28. HeManSkaterDad

    HeManSkaterDad Member

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    Thank you, that is what I was trying to convey. I don't want to teach spins or jumps or footwork, but I can offer valuable insight into what does and does not motivate my particular skaters.
     
  29. Tammi

    Tammi Merlot lover

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    Do you have a meeting with the coach(es) and your skater prior to the start of each season? When my skater was young, we found those meetings really valuable. It was usually done over dinner or at least someplace away from the rink. We'd be able to map out a plan and goals for the season, including any tests that needed to be passed. We'd talk about what competitions our skater would be attending and if we'd be bringing in someone to review programs or help with choreography. It was also a better atmosphere for bringing up a discussion about motivation or anything else you find important. Those talks are hard to have in the 15 minutes between Zamboni breaks or while tying skates to get on the ice for a lesson. If your coach has a lot of skaters, then unfortunately, changing their coaching style just for your child may not work. If that's the case, then yes, you may want to look for another coach that has a style more suited to your skaters. We had a situation when we had to change coaches right in the middle of a qualifying season. It was messy, but the alternative was that our skater was ready to quit.
     
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  30. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

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    In the U.S. for a domestic Technical Specialist appointment you need to either have quite a high background in skating (which was substantially increased this year) as a Junior or Senior competitor at Sectionals or a Senior competitor at Regionals, OR you must have coached at least 3 skaters to the previous level OR have reached the Sectional judging level. The judging level can be done without a high-level skating background but would likely take 10 or more years of dedicated study, judging, and trial judging experience to achieve for someone on the "standard" track. (However, most judges opt to move into a Technical Controller role, which requires that one be a judge. Some judges do both but all the ones I know of who do were also very high level skaters.) I see HeManSkaterDad is in Florida so those are the rules that would apply to him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014