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  1. #1
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    How important is it to compete?

    My sons coach has been pushing us to let our son compete. It seems like the competitions he would be competing in are small and seem like more of a way for the people putting on the compitions to make money. I am talking about the very first compitions that beginners compete in.

    How important are these first compitions for beginners?

    If they were being held in our town we would have no problem letting him compete but the closest compititions to us are 400 miles away and would cost $1,000 for us to go to for the weekend. We feel letting him do shows are a good way for him to get a feel for skating in front of people.

    It seems like a lot of the compititions only have one or two people entered.

    We feel right now the money would be better spent on lessons and skates.

    We know competitions are important that's why he is practicing so had and wants to compete but should we start him?

    Help

  2. #2

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    It's harder with a boy because you often will have to travel to find other boys to compete against, at all levels.

    Basic Skills competitions often combine sexes, so if he's still at that level you might be able to find some competitions closer to home. Some skaters enjoy competing at those levels and some coaches encourage it, but others prefer to develop skills first and wait to start with standard no-test or prepreliminary competitions.

    Is competing a long-term goal for your son? If he expects to be entering juvenile or intermediate competitions at regionals in a few more years, then he will want to have experience competing at lower levels, and then at those levels, before he gets to one that really "counts." But you could certainly plan on no more than one or two competitions you have to travel to in a year, so if shows are a more convenient way to get experience performing alone on the ice in front of audiences, that might work better for your situation, at least for now.

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    It is up to you. You are the parent. If you felt the money was better spent on lessons and skates, then that is how it should be. And the coach will have to accept that.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by RonC View Post
    We know competitions are important that's why he is practicing so had and wants to compete but should we start him?
    You posted in another thread that "We are thinking of taking our son [to Salt Lake City] this summer to train for a couple weeks."

    If you decide to go there this summer, perhaps you could schedule your trip so that he could participate 1 or more competitions in the area?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvia View Post
    You posted in another thread that "We are thinking of taking our son [to Salt Lake City] this summer to train for a couple weeks."

    If you decide to go there this summer, perhaps you could schedule your trip so that he could participate 1 or more competitions in the area?
    That's a great suggestion, I will have my wife look into it.

    Thanks.

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    I think that testing - to a lesser extent perhaps? - could fulfill some of the same goals as competing: alone on the ice, judges, also a deadline to work toward. I think that sometimes it's the build up of practices and the more urgent need to hone skills, both technical and presentation that actually sets my kiddo's mind to doing that fine detail work. Maybe it should be this way, but when she has a test or competition date on the calendar there is more urgency and need to work on all the bits and pieces she'd sometimes rather not. That's a maturity issue as well, but I think that competing or testing at lower levels can fulfill those other goals.

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    I agree with Jozet, but I would add that the best way to learn to compete is....to compete. I had been skating and testing (as an adult) for quite a while before I actually got to compete - not because I chose not to compete, but because there were hardly any competitive opportunities for adults in my area then. And although I had watched tons of competitions and had watched other skaters from my club get ready to compete, I was *really* surprised at how different competing was from anything else I had done, even testing.

    A skater can have a very long and happy career as a skater without ever competing, but if competing is something that your son is interested in (by which I mean he himself is interested, not his coach saying he should do it), the more often he has the chance to do it, the more he will learn about it and understand what it takes to do well.
    We live in an ageist society where everything is based on youth, but I hated being 18. I don't like teenagers any more now than I did then. I'm 49 now and there is no way that I'd go back to my teens and 20s - even if I knew what I know now, I don't want to go through all that again. I found it a very difficult time. - Buzz Osborne of the Melvins

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    I think a lot depends on your son's personality, as well. For me, there was never any doubt; I was going to compete as soon as the first competition I could enter came along! I didn't care if that was at Basic 1 or Free Skate 1, I was going to compete! But then I am a very competitive person by nature.

    Just as a side note, I noticed you said:

    "It seems like the competitions he would be competing in are small and seem like more of a way for the people putting on the compitions to make money."

    MOST competitions under the Regional level are small. And yes, they are put on to make money - for the club that's hosting them. Club competitions are fundraisers as much as anything. That money will go to the upkeep of the club's computers, the sound system, paying the judges' expenses for testing, insurance, et cetera. In return, when the skaters from that club come to a competition put on by your club, they then return the benefit.

    I have skated in two competitions so far. In the first there were four of us in my division, and in the second, three. (That I came fourth and third bothers me immensely. It's a great motivator, coming last.) The only thing stopping me from saying that this is the norm is that Australia is a large place and travelling interstate for competition is not always practical, but from what I've heard it tends to be similar in the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misskarne View Post
    I think a lot depends on your son's personality, as well. For me, there was never any doubt; I was going to compete as soon as the first competition I could enter came along! I didn't care if that was at Basic 1 or Free Skate 1, I was going to compete! But then I am a very competitive person by nature.

    Just as a side note, I noticed you said:

    "It seems like the competitions he would be competing in are small and seem like more of a way for the people putting on the compitions to make money."

    MOST competitions under the Regional level are small. And yes, they are put on to make money - for the club that's hosting them. Club competitions are fundraisers as much as anything. That money will go to the upkeep of the club's computers, the sound system, paying the judges' expenses for testing, insurance, et cetera. In return, when the skaters from that club come to a competition put on by your club, they then return the benefit.

    I have skated in two competitions so far. In the first there were four of us in my division, and in the second, three. (That I came fourth and third bothers me immensely. It's a great motivator, coming last.) The only thing stopping me from saying that this is the norm is that Australia is a large place and travelling interstate for competition is not always practical, but from what I've heard it tends to be similar in the US.
    My Son has wanted to compete and do shows from the beginning and if the competitions were closer we wouldn't have a problem with it, but a 2 day competition would cost $700 or $800 by the time we paid for hotel and food.

    He will compete this year, but we want to maximize the money we can afford to speed for the maximum benefit. $800 buys a lot of lessons and he has done an exhibition and loved it.

    From what we and his coach have seen he is better when he is performing or testing in front of people, he turns it up a notch. It is very noticeable.

  10. #10
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    If your son loves performing, he's already ahead of the game IMO. Many coaches get their kids competing early so they can get over the initial "stage fright." If your son doesn't need that, I tend to agree that at his level, money might be better spent on training and lessons, so being patient with respect to competing could have greater benefits in the long run.

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    Ok,I'm not a Competitor. But through common sense...I can only say that you ask your son what he thinks about competing and see what he desides. I would also take the time and do your homework first on Competitions like this. See for example if you can find out anything about what they are like and what your son AND you BOTH get out of it. As it is HIS Skating....and YOU don't want to be coned. All in all...I'd say....GO FOR IT!!!

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    How long has your son been skating for ? What can he do (single or double jumps, spins...) ? How old is he ? How many hours per week does he practice ?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artifice View Post
    How long has your son been skating for ? What can he do (single or double jumps, spins...) ? How old is he ? How many hours per week does he practice ?
    How long has your son been skating for ?
    He has been skating for a little over a year now. He is in ISI level 4


    What can he do (single or double jumps, spins...) ?
    he can only do singles now but will start double this summer

    How old is he ?
    he will be 12 in a couple months

    How many hours per week does he practice ?
    he practices 5 days a week, 1 1/2 hours 3 days a week and 2 hours twice a week and gets 2 half hour lessons twice a week.

  14. #14

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    IMO, that's a lot of skating to NOT compete, unless passing tests is his goal. I'd taslk to him about why he skates, why he likes it and where he sees himself in five years with it. If he says something about wanting to go to the Olympics, then I'd find a way to get him to some competitions. If he says something about wanting to land quadruple jumps, then I'd think that the learning process is what attracts him and that maybe competing isn't so necessary. But I think I'd still try to find a way to let him try competing at least a couple times, just to see how he deals with it.

    Maybe combining a competition with a family vacation would be way to start. But it seems to me that you're already investing a good amount of money in his training. The question is: what is all that training for?
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

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    If he wants to compete, then yes, he needs to compete. Testing is not the same thing (he has to do that, too, but it's a very different mental place.) Obviously don't go broke doing it, but especaily with a boy, you'll likely have to travel to compete against anyonoe but the book, and the more he does, the better it will be for him mentally as he gets older and the competition gets stiffer.

    Though if he's doing ISI, I'd talk goals a little sooner rather than later. That IS a lot of money and traveling for the less-than-serious division (as opposed to USFS et al.)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    The question is: what is all that training for?
    There are several reasons for all of the training, first is he loves skating. He says that it is relaxing. He loves the challenge of leaning new moves or jumps. He is always exited when he passes a move or jump and is exited about moving on and learning a new one.

    It's great to watch him test and when he passes a move he starts jumping up and down he is so exited! He also does this when he is working with his coach and hits a new jump he is working on for the first time or even something as small as a three turn or any move, he gets so exited when he gets it. It's so fun to watch him.

    He says that he has dreamed about winning a medial and wants to win Nationals.

    He will compete there is no doubt about that it's just when is it the most beneficial to start. If we lived someplace were he could compete without the expense of travailing we would have him entered all the time if he wanted it. But with cost so hi for use we need to be smart on how we spend the money we do have for the maximum benefit.

    We (his parents) like it for a couple reasons, one he loves to do it and it is a great exercise. it is building his self confidence and teaching him hard work and dedication pays off. And would rather he spend his time skating then watching TV or sitting around playing video games.

    We also look at it as an opportunity for him to learn a skill at an early age that he can use later to help bring in a income when he is in collage. The collage that he trains at pays $18 an hour for students to help with classes.

    He has been helping with the learn to skate program for the last 2 months working with the tots. This week they asked him to help with the spring break skating camp for tots and are letting him attend the camp for kids at his level for free. Even if he never were to compete he is learning so much from this. He is learning self discipline and how to work with kids and many more life skills.

    The money we are investing in him is for more then for him to just compete, skating is building his self confidence. Every time he has to learn something new and succeeds it builds his confidence. every time he go's out in front of people and performs or in the future competes it helps to build his self confidence and helps him to believe in himself that he can do what ever he puts his mind to with hard work and determination.

    I always tell him when he is having a bad day with a move and wants to stop, not to let it get the better of him, that you have to keep trying and you will beat it! and when he does and he does most of the time, he will look over at me and smile and give me a thumbs up or start jumping up and down. I love those moments.
    Last edited by RonC; 03-14-2012 at 02:03 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonC View Post
    and wants to win Nationals.
    Make sure his coaches have a plan to get him started on USFSA testing.

    Being someone on message boards, you are probably well informed, but there seem to be a lot of ISI parents who don't realize that system does not, in any way, track to "nationals" that we see on TV. (ISI has its own national event, but it isn't the same thing.)

    That said- ISI is a lot of fun, and at lower levels many skaters test and compete in both systems.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Make sure his coaches have a plan to get him started on USFSA testing.
    Especially since he is turning 12 soon. There is an age cap on the Juvenile level, which is the first USFS qualifying level. He cannot compete as a Juvenile once he turns 14. Since he'll need to pass a total of 8 tests to get there (a Moves in the Field and Free Skate test for each of the Pre-Preliminary, Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, and Juvenile levels), you don't have time to mess around. It is possible to do this (see Johnny Weir, who also started relatively late), but he needs to get moving on the testing.

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    So as to not scare his Dad off though- he can compete Open Juvenile once he reaches 14, and then hustle to "catch up" to the next levels. I think the next age limit comes at Intermediate - which is 18. There isn't one for Novice up. (Could be wrong here.)

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    So as to not scare his Dad off though- he can compete Open Juvenile once he reaches 14, and then hustle to "catch up" to the next levels.
    That's true in theory, but in practice hardly any boys do this even if they start late. There are so few of them, comparatively, that they're more likely to test to intermediate as soon as they can pass the tests and then stay at that level for a few years, so a skater who does want to test up slowly and steadily might find no one to compete against.

    If you test to juvenile you can "skate up" to intermediate at club competitions, but then you need to have a short program prepared for most of them.

    If you're a 14- or 15-year-old boy who wants to compete and don't have at least two consistent double jumps (or can't pass the intermediate MITF), it's probably better to stay in preliminary or prejuvenile than test to juvenile.

    I think the next age limit comes at Intermediate - which is 18. There isn't one for Novice up. (Could be wrong here.)
    You are correct.

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