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  1. #1

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    Why do skaters leave coaches?

    I have always changed coaches because the coaches have usually moved on from coaching or moved to another rink. Have never had to leave a coach because things were unpleasant or didn't get on with them. In fact one coach (ice dance) I've had for 16 years, just because I really enjoy learning from her and am still learning. I am lucky because I also consider her a good friend after all this time.

    But interested to know why people have left coaches. Were they were teaching you wrong technique? You felt like you were getting ripped off? You just couldn't get on with them? Or they could only teach to a certain level and to develop you had to move on? Or did the coach drop you as a student?

    Thought this would make a good discussion.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Various reasons. Mine was a personality conflict. We had differences that couldn't be overlooked. I realized I needed someone who would be kinder rather then hardcore driven. When my brother was younger he needed someone who would bark orders at him and then one day he matured and really didnt need that type of coaching. He outgrew the coach.

    Another one of my coaches was relegated to secondary coach due to time constraints. The coach had so many students that lessons became 10 min instead of 15. I still work with the coach but mainly on dances now and my previous secondary coach has become my primary one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    I have always changed coaches because the coaches have usually moved on from coaching or moved to another rink. Have never had to leave a coach because things were unpleasant or didn't get on with them. In fact one coach (ice dance) I've had for 16 years, just because I really enjoy learning from her and am still learning. I am lucky because I also consider her a good friend after all this time.

    But interested to know why people have left coaches. Were they were teaching you wrong technique? You felt like you were getting ripped off? You just couldn't get on with them? Or they could only teach to a certain level and to develop you had to move on? Or did the coach drop you as a student?

    Thought this would make a good discussion.

  3. #3
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    I quit my former coach because he was dishonest and self-serving. First, he tried to trick me into paying him for things I didn't ask for, then he scheduled a group lesson (which would make him more money) in my time slot, hoping I would agree--after the fact--to having my lesson at a different time. This was right when I had two major tests to pass, so that showed me where his priorities were. Within 5 minutes of being asked to reschedule my lessons, I was asking a friend for her coach's phone number. I switched and haven't looked back since.

  4. #4

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    Some coaches price themselves out of the market with annual raises and extra fees. You don't need a $100-an-hour coach to teach basic dances or single jumps.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

  5. #5

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    And some skaters leave coaches because another coach says, or implies, that s/he can help them get the elements the other coach can't or won't teach them. Combine that with a parent who starts to believe that the first coach is unduly holding back their supremely talented little prince or princess, and it's goodbye first coach. It's unethical but I see it happen all the time.

    And usually the reason the first coach won't teach the kid the element(s) is because the kid doesn't yet have the technical skills to do the element correctly. So what ends up happening is the new coach teaches the kid the element, the kid does it badly, gets dinged for it in competitions, and then has a huge amount of trouble relearning it correctly (and sometimes never does). So the kid would have done just as well to stay with the first coach and to have worked on it when they were truly ready.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doubletoe View Post
    I quit my former coach because he was dishonest and self-serving. First, he tried to trick me into paying him for things I didn't ask for, then he scheduled a group lesson (which would make him more money) in my time slot, hoping I would agree--after the fact--to having my lesson at a different time. This was right when I had two major tests to pass, so that showed me where his priorities were. Within 5 minutes of being asked to reschedule my lessons, I was asking a friend for her coach's phone number. I switched and haven't looked back since.
    Did that create awkwardness between you and the ex coach since you and he were still at the same rink?

    I did have a coach that one morning during my scheduled lesson gave a lesson instead to a girl that was testing, but he didn't tell me beforehand nor even bothered to explain to me while I was on the same ice waiting for the lesson.

  7. #7
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    After every Olympics, the coach of the winner starts getting all these new students who think that that particular person will coach them to victory... i.e. Sasha going to Robin Wagner, Samuelson and Bates going to Shpilband, Frank Carroll getting myriad new students after Evan's success.

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    Does group lesson instructor count? Everyone is saying if it's a group lesson, hold the expectations low. But if coaches treat group lesson students irresponsibly, they are losing potential private students.

    I had to quit group lessons at my first rink because an instructor would idle around rather than actively observing and giving advices. There were only 3 students on the ice, each getting about 5 minutes of instruction for a 45 minute lesson... He generally does not explain the elements nor point out errors. It's a quick demonstration, voila, and you are on your own practicing without further inputs.

    Another instructor at that rink lacks flexibility I guess. I was learning the forward 3 turns back then and one side was very strong while the other side failed about half of the time. I had a tendency to go back and retry the bad side if it fails, instead of going on to alternate side. To me it was just handling unfinished business and not a violation of his instruction. He got really furious over it for "not following order", not bothering to hear my explanation nor offer any justification on his strict rule. The biggest drawback: getting irritated if any technical questions are raised.

    I am perfectly happy with my current group lesson instructors at the new rink

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    Did that create awkwardness between you and the ex coach since you and he were still at the same rink?

    I did have a coach that one morning during my scheduled lesson gave a lesson instead to a girl that was testing, but he didn't tell me beforehand nor even bothered to explain to me while I was on the same ice waiting for the lesson.
    Oh, beyond awkwardness! He called and tried to put me on a guilt trip, and when that didn't work, he would say things about me to his other students, knowing I could hear him. I just played dumb and smiled and he eventually got over it.
    I don't think my reason for quitting that coach is typical, though. At the higher levels, I think skaters switch coaches either because (a) they have gotten into too much of a rut and just need to break the pattern, or (2) they are looking for a magic pill (see Leafygreen's post).

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    Is he a member of the PSA? You would think there would be ethics guidelines against stuff like that. Glad you got away and now have a better coach!

    I've been with the same coach for 3 years now. She was actually my very first group instructor when I went back to skating as an adult, and she taught our group adult basics class. Then our class went through different instructors each session. When I got to freestyle I asked her to give me 15 min private lessons after my group classes. Eventually I moved to hourly private lessons and haven't looked back!

  11. #11

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    One of my former coaches was a good fit for my early tests. Once I got to the higher tests, she just couldn't break things down as much I needed her to in order have things make sense.

    For example, on my juvenile MITF test for the back cross strokes, I would swing my free leg around too much instead of moving it backwards and doing a small power pull to finish a lobe. She never quite managed to explain that concept. She kept saying 'toe to heel' and occasionally when I kept looking confused and explaining that made no sense to me me, she'd switch to 'bend knees and then do toe to heel.' The open mohawk on the 8 step was 'fast arms', instead of explaining I should open up my shoulder before the turn. The rest of that test was pretty much an exercise on how not to communicate.

    I ended up being laid off from my job that same year, so I stopped having lessons with her. Turned out I learned more from a fellow skater who had already passed up to junior MITF and was helping me out. Once that happened, I realized it was time for a new coach -once I got a new job. I had to move out of state for the new job once that happened, but I did let the old coach know I wanted to take lessons from other people right before I left and she was actually supportive of the idea.

    Sometimes I need to be told every little detail about how to do a certain move, where the arms go, how to move them for checking a turn, where my free leg goes, etc. The old coach liked simplifying things because that's how she learned best and she wasn't able to change that to accommodate my learning style. Other coaches could. In the end, there was no drama involved...it just stopped being a good working relationship.
    Last edited by ioana; 06-30-2010 at 05:26 AM.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doubletoe View Post
    I quit my former coach because he was dishonest and self-serving. First, he tried to trick me into paying him for things I didn't ask for, then he scheduled a group lesson (which would make him more money) in my time slot, hoping I would agree--after the fact--to having my lesson at a different time. This was right when I had two major tests to pass, so that showed me where his priorities were. Within 5 minutes of being asked to reschedule my lessons, I was asking a friend for her coach's phone number. I switched and haven't looked back since.
    I hear you. I had a similar situation with my first coach (and her coach, who she had me working with on moves) behaving unprofessionally. She is an adult skater, too, and I would have expected her to have more respect for me. Guess not.

    Since then (5 years ago), she's pulled similar crap with other students. She's actually lost a lot of students, b/c she's not high-level in her testing or skills and as I have discovered, teaches bad technique. There are so many things I have had to relearn, and getting rid of bad habits isn't easy. I've been with my current coach now for almost 5 years and things have been going great. She's very 'old school' in terms of technique and doesn't let me get away with doing something incorrectly - I had heard she was like that and chose her for that reason, b/c that's what I need.


    Is he a member of the PSA? You would think there would be ethics guidelines against stuff like that.
    That's more complex than you might think. First, consider that the PSA is run by coaches, for coaches. Unless something is really bad (like something that would get media attention....and by extension get the attention of the USFSA), it's unlikely the PSA is going to want to get involved. They are a small org and probably don't want to be in the situation of refereeing anything they would consider to be a skater-coach dispute. It also costs money to file a complaint, so I suspect that even when there is something bad going on, people often don't bother.

    And unfortunately, I don't think Doubletoe's situation is all that unusual. There are plenty of coaches out there that do outrageous things, and the way to deal with it is to not go to them. Of course, there are parents and skaters who will, but that's for them to worry about. If there are issues involving a coach that impact your experience at the rink, talk to the skating director or rink owner. (they would be in a position to do more than the PSA, anyway)

  13. #13
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    I have my own coach for 3 years now, plus 2 differents coaches in my club and one more in the summer camp.
    I have never wanted to leave any of them, but I'm happy to have different advises, different point of view, and complementary teaching.
    But of course, I'm not at a level where it's hard to adapt my skating ! lol

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie S View Post
    I hear you. I had a similar situation with my first coach (and her coach, who she had me working with on moves) behaving unprofessionally. She is an adult skater, too, and I would have expected her to have more respect for me. Guess not.

    Since then (5 years ago), she's pulled similar crap with other students. She's actually lost a lot of students, b/c she's not high-level in her testing or skills and as I have discovered, teaches bad technique. There are so many things I have had to relearn, and getting rid of bad habits isn't easy. I've been with my current coach now for almost 5 years and things have been going great. She's very 'old school' in terms of technique and doesn't let me get away with doing something incorrectly - I had heard she was like that and chose her for that reason, b/c that's what I need.


    That's more complex than you might think. First, consider that the PSA is run by coaches, for coaches. Unless something is really bad (like something that would get media attention....and by extension get the attention of the USFSA), it's unlikely the PSA is going to want to get involved. They are a small org and probably don't want to be in the situation of refereeing anything they would consider to be a skater-coach dispute. It also costs money to file a complaint, so I suspect that even when there is something bad going on, people often don't bother.

    And unfortunately, I don't think Doubletoe's situation is all that unusual. There are plenty of coaches out there that do outrageous things, and the way to deal with it is to not go to them. Of course, there are parents and skaters who will, but that's for them to worry about. If there are issues involving a coach that impact your experience at the rink, talk to the skating director or rink owner. (they would be in a position to do more than the PSA, anyway)
    Yep! Everything Debbie S. said. Not surprisingly, my ex-coach also wasn't very good at teaching technique. I never had a decent sitspin until I switched coaches (and then my new coach fixed my sitspin in 5 minutes!). And I am still annoyed to see my ex-coach counting spin revolutions out loud for his students twice as fast so that they think they've done 4 revolutions when they've only done 2!

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    When I lived in Utah I had a coach that competed with the National team and was very qualified, but she left to go to Peru. While in Peru she set me up with a new coach. I ended up liking that coach's way of teaching me better. She was a lot more organized, and was a believer in writing down stuff. She also always showed up to lessons, while my other coach constantly had to cancel. In the end I was glad my other coach went to Peru

  16. #16
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    I have been skating almost 4 years and have had to change coaches twice (excluding temporary coaches and specific-purpose coaches).

    In the first case, it was a personality difference. I am very self-critical and the coach did not provide the support and encouragement I required to feel positive about my skating.

    My second coach (of 3 years) had taken on extra work (employment) and no longer had any other skaters on my early morning session so she asked if I would mind switching coaches - I didn't mind. We discussed the possible replacements, I "auditioned" the first choice in May and start with her in a few weeks.

    I have worked with a number of temporary and special purpose coaches, all with specific objectives or terms and enjoyed working with them. By the terms originally understood, leaving them was simply the end of the term.

  17. #17
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    It could be for many reasons:
    -Personal conflicts
    -Coaches leaving/retiring
    -Coaches unable to teach the level of skating you are at.
    -You feel you need change to improve your skating career.

    There's more reasons, but it's late here and I can't think of any.

  18. #18

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    I've only done group lessons, which is fine with me. Unlike other skaters I talk to at the rink, I like having a variety of teachers. I learn a little something different from each one.

    I know a young woman who is a fairly advanced skater from a small town. She seems like a very sweet, innocent, pleasant girl (based on our e-mails and phone calls). She told me once how she had to fire her longtime coach because they didn't get along. I was like "WHAT?! You didn't get along with someone? How can that happen?! ". But when she told me some of the details...that the coach changed behavior at one point, started demanding to be prepaid, was having delusions about all of her students going to the next Olympics, secretly learning from other coaches how she is having serious financial and life issues...of course she had to fire her. You can imagine how the mentally ill coach treated her at the rink after that .

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by deltask8er View Post
    I know a young woman who is a fairly advanced skater from a small town. She seems like a very sweet, innocent, pleasant girl (based on our e-mails and phone calls). She told me once how she had to fire her longtime coach because they didn't get along. I was like "WHAT?! You didn't get along with someone? How can that happen?! ". But when she told me some of the details...that the coach changed behavior at one point, started demanding to be prepaid, was having delusions about all of her students going to the next Olympics, secretly learning from other coaches how she is having serious financial and life issues...of course she had to fire her. You can imagine how the mentally ill coach treated her at the rink after that .
    That coach sounds like someone I used to know.

    Seriously though, I wonder how common coaches like that are.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  20. #20

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    I still have the first coach I worked with, but I'd added a second coach about four years ago, so that I could get partnering experience and so that I had a male to take me through tests.

    That first man is an elite level coach now, and he isn't around enough, so he suggested I work with one of his former students. Loved the second coach, until he moved back to Europe to get married. Then I picked someone myself that I'd done a clinic with. As an elite level skater, he ended up having to switch countries in order to get to the Olys, and he went overseas to train, so I lost him. Overlapping with him was another former student of the elite level coach, who I'm still with.

    Since all of my male coaches have been from the same "school" - they'd all, including the elite level coach, been taught by the same coach for part of their careers - they have similar approaches, which for me, works well.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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