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How important is it to compete?

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by RonC, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. RonC

    RonC New Member

    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?

    Ozzisk8tr and (deleted member) like this.
  2. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    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.
  4. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    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?
  5. RonC

    RonC New Member

    That's a great suggestion, I will have my wife look into it.

  6. Jozet

    Jozet Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    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.
  8. misskarne

    misskarne #AustraliaForTheTeamEvent

    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.
  9. RonC

    RonC New Member

    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. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. FSWer

    FSWer Well-Known Member

    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!!!
  12. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    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. RonC

    RonC New Member

    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. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    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?
  15. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    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. RonC

    RonC New Member

    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: Mar 14, 2012
  17. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    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. Clarice

    Clarice Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    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. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    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.

    You are correct.
  21. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    Your son seems pretty good considering his experience. Did he start learning the axel ?
    However it seems a little soon to spend a lot of money traveling for ISI competitions, considering the choice you have to face money wise. He can still test and when he gets to USFSA categories and improve, you will see then if he can have competitive potential.
    If it happens that your son doesn't improve (like he he can't do double jumps), maybe it still can be interesting, if he likes it, to compete even at a lower level.
    Fun and challenge is not made only for high level competitors.

    But maybe for now you still have a little time to see how far his potential can lead him. If it happens that your son can reach a good competitive level, you will have plenty of occasions to see how much competitions cost ! lol
  22. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    The thing to remember, though, is that while you're "waiting to see" how he develops, all the kids he'll be competing against are competing NOW, getting used to it, learning the ropes and seeing where they fit on the ladder. Your son's first time out may very well be against a skater going out for the tenth, twentieth or fiftieth time. And there really is no substitute for competitive experience.
  23. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    RonC has actually to face a choice that is money oriented. The family can't put a lot of money on the table for competitions, so they have to select. It is probably better to wait and save money for future potential bigger competitions than spending all the money now for small competitions and leaving nothing for the future, especially if the skater gets really good.
  24. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    How do you know how "really good" a skater is if they never compete? "Good" is relative.

    Look, if the kid wants to be a competitive skater, he's got to compete somewhere, sometime. I'm not saying that the family has to be travelling 400 miles every month and bankrupting themselves to do it, but it seems to me that one or two trips a year, in conjunction with a family vacation that the kid can compete in the middle of, is a decent investment. Competing is a skill just like jumps and spins; you have to practice it. And I've found that the kids who only compete at the "big events" like Regionals once a year get way more stressed than the ones who do three or four competitions a year, just because there's more "at stake" and they feel more pressure to do well because it's all they have to focus on.

    And then there's the whole debate about letting the judges learn who you are and what you can do. The theory espoused here is that the judges "know who they like" - to do that they have to see a skater several times to get familiar with what they can do. "Ice Castles" to the contrary, it's really rare for a totally unknown skater to suddenly appear out of nowhere and blow everyone else away the first time out.

    If it was me, and my kid really really wanted to compete, I'd negotiate a trade - skate one less day and we'll put the money we save toward a competition. But then I wouldn't have a beginning skater training every day anyway, so the point is moot. *shrug*
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  25. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    I say wait and spend the resources on training and testing until he has the Axel and couple double jumps consistent.

    if there are shows and exhibitions available locally, enter him for more experience.
  26. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    The kid is now only at the stage of learning to jump properly and learning spins. And he's been skating for only one year. This is not a priority for now to send him to competitions. Since a choice must be done, it is much better to spend the money for lessons and tests.

    Well, the family actually said they have to make a choice because competing now would be hard to handle financially. What is decent for you is not necessarely the same for others, and this family just said so.

    No, there is a gap between not competing until regionals and competing too soon in small events. It's not a matter of saying that the skater has to wait until he can get to regionals vs competing right now at beginners events. It's a matter of balancing things well and accordingly to financial conditions.

    No, this is not an issue for now. At low levels the "know who they are" question doesn't mean anything. First, there are too many skaters in these competitions to decently have judges mark better skaters they already know. Secondly, under the judging system, with marks that can't be discussed technically, and components that are more precise now than before, judges spend their time focusing on the performance, not trying to remember who the skater is and when they saw him the last time. Third and probably the most important, this is not how a skater and parents should enter the sport and competitive spirit. At this kids level, sport should not consist of playing strategy and focusing on elements that are external to the performance and the sport itself. They must focus on improvement, on quality of the elements, on getting skills properly.

    No again, things must be done in order. The point is at first to learn the sport, then one can compete. It is irrelevant to priorise competition vs training. If a kid wants to skate, this is better to let him practice and learn the sport. There is no point to send a skater to competition if he can't skate. And skating is taught in lessons and with training, not during competitions. Competition is there to show the result of the training, not to learn skating skills. Also, at that age, if the skater like it of course, it is very good to allow him to practice as much as possible, because skills are better learned at a young age, and best improvment are made at this age.

    That is indeed better that way.
  27. skatemomoftwo

    skatemomoftwo New Member

    If you live in a small place you really should take advantage of anything he can do.Comps in small places DO NOT MAKE MONEY.They lose money but are done to give skaters something to do.If he can do ISI, he will have a ton of events to enter. They all help him be a better skater.
    Something I think people dont realize is how time intensive this sport is and how long things take.If you wait till he an axle and a few doubles, then you are talking about waiting a FEW YEARS.Those jumps take time. Even when you have them, you lose them and gain them back.
    Does he have his axle? You know some kids never get it because single dont take long and they think the same for axle.They get frustrated and stop.Comps even at low levels give them something to work towards.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  28. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    But competing is a skill in and of itself, that you can only really learn how to do by competing. And in programs like ISI you can participate in competitions at very basic levels of skill. I agree that spending time on competitions instead of spending time on lessons is not a good idea, but I don't see a problem with doing a small amount of competing while mostly focusing on the lessons and the skill development. If anything, you might discover that you hate competing, which will then help you further focus what you want to do in the sport.