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Why do skaters leave coaches?

Discussion in 'Moves In The Field' started by Aussie Willy, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    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.
  2. jp1andonly

    jp1andonly Well-Known Member

    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.

  3. Doubletoe

    Doubletoe Well-Known Member

    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. :D
  4. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    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.
  6. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    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. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. jjane45

    jjane45 Active Member

    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. Doubletoe

    Doubletoe Well-Known Member

    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).
  10. waltz_jump

    waltz_jump New Member

    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. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

    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: Jun 30, 2010
  12. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    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)
  13. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    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. Doubletoe

    Doubletoe Well-Known Member

    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! :duh:
  15. janetgriselle

    janetgriselle New Member

    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. Rusty Blades

    Rusty Blades New Member

    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. skating_sarah11

    skating_sarah11 New Member

    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. deltask8er

    deltask8er Well-Known Member

    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?! :lol: ". 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. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    That coach sounds like someone I used to know.

    Seriously though, I wonder how common coaches like that are.
  20. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    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.
  21. Lanie

    Lanie Well-Known Member

    Mostly because no one took me seriously because I was an adult skater. I got frustrated. I picked up things quickly, but because I am a horrible jumper, every coach I've had got pissed off at me and preferred to work with the little kids. :rolleyes:

    I want a new coach because group lessons are killing my love of skating (stuck with little kids who have 3275943739 private lessons a week and tell you you suck because your Lutz needs help would do it), but...
  22. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    Aww, Lanie, I hope you can find a good coach that is much more patient than the ones you've had. There are plenty of coaches out there that actually prefer to work with lower-level skaters (less stress, no IJS, no crazed parents....well, less of them, anyway, lol). Maybe ask the skating director, or skate on an FS session and (covertly) observe the various coaches in action. If there are adult skaters at your rink, maybe ask them who they work with? If there are no adult skaters, perhaps that's not a good rink for you - maybe there is another rink close by that might be better?
  23. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    I just recently fired my freestyle/moves coach of 10 years and it was less than pleasant, that's for sure!

    Basically, I came to realize that if I wanted to progress from where I had stagnated over the years that I had to have a new perspective.

    I now have a great coach who is totally into teaching. It's very exciting. She had me write down 3/6/12 month goals and has a whole program of off-ice and on-ice exercises to help me achieve these goals. She also noticed that my blade placement was wonky and referred me to another coach who fixed my placement. What a world of difference it has made.

    I could kick myself for sticking with a coach who had lost enthusiasm five years ago, but I am so happy now.

    Unfortunately, the former coach didn't take it well and has bad-mouthed me to all of his students and their parents. I told him exactly what I said above... I need a new perspective, but he insists on thinking there's some deeper reason or that there is a plot against him. He's also said unpleasant things about my dance coach; basically blaming her for "brainwashing" me into leaveing him. It bothers me and it's awkward when we are at the rink at the same time, but I've decided that I'm not going anywhere and he can just learn to deal with it.
  24. smileyskate

    smileyskate Active Member

    Hearing about these issues kind of bugs me. Not just regarding adults, but anyone who is truly trying hard (giving 100% at all times) in any sport/activity or school that perhaps has different goals or ability levels than the so-called norm. Do they really think that your goals are any less important than anyone else's? Aren't your achievements and tests just as important if not moreso as you are probably fighting against time/aging/ other responsibilities? Try bringing that up the next time you encounter someone with an attitude. Maybe they will see the light.
    As for Bev, if you have firm evidence your old coach is badmouthing you, I think you are supposed to let the director know. Maybe even higher than that if there is such a thing wherever you are. Maybe it won't go anywhere but at least it will be on record if they pull that kind of nonsense again. Good for you that you found someone more motivated.
  25. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    Actually, the director pulled me into her office one day and asked me about the situation. She shares a student with my old coach and he told her about all the drama. I told her that I broke no ethics rules: I told him I was going to find a new coach because I needed a new perspective, I thanked him for all that he taught me, I paid him all money that I owed him, and then I found a new coach. My intention was to be friendly to him when I saw him. My dance coach certainly never said one thing about him to me, so she is also blameless. I told the director that I was trying to take the high road and hadn't said anything about the situation to anyone, but it sure felt good to tell my side to someone at last. She said that she appreciated the way I was handling it. I'm sure the last thing she wants to deal with is some silly back and forth between supposed adults.

    After skating with this coach for 10 years, I became good friends with lots of his other students and their parents and they were the ones that told me about all the badmouthing. I didn't say anything about him in return to them, I just told them that I left him because I needed a change; it was nothing personal.

    I've been involved in skating long enough to see these little dramas pop up from time to time. They always go away over time and I haven't seen any other negative impact. Everyone treats me the same as they did before and that's great. I don't think anyone puts too much stock in anything that the former coach says, anyway. He has a reputation of not getting along with the other coaches.
  26. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    Some coaches prefer to work with adults, regardless of their ability. It's much more fun to work with someone who truly wants to skate and is not being forced by a parent. You should ask my dance coach who she prefers to work with: me, an adult who practices and listens and tries, or her Thurs 7am kid who pouts and stomps and cries and, nine lessons out of ten, has her lesson ended early because she refuses to listen.

    Keep looking... there are coaches out there who like teaching adults!
  27. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    Bev - most coaches, when students leave them have to find some justification, whether it is true or not. Most cannot accept that it didn' work out. That is damaging to their ego. So they go around blaming others for what is essentially a situation that is just not working out anymore. And in many instances they also cannot accept that they are just not very good coaches.

    However it is like any relationship. Sometimes it just isn't going to last. Good coaches will accept when it is time for a student to move on, for whatever reason. And also accept their limitations.

    I am so lucky I have been with my dance coach of 16 years for the simple fact that we like each other and have fun during our lessons. But she is also a damned good coach. If you are on the same wavelength as her, it is going to be a successful relationship.
  28. sailornyanko

    sailornyanko New Member

    In my case all of the above. I was also really hated by the mexican coaching community because my parents aren't multimillionaires. Coaches in Mexico City dump students for the stupidest of reasons. part of the reason why I never gave a damn about entering their little obnoxious social circle either.

    I also concur on coaches not wanting to coach older students. Heck, I'm barely 5'1, thin boned and weigh less than 100 pounds and I was pretty good at skating doing a ton of intermediate figures coaches didn't even want to teach me because I wasn't in the in crowd (doctors that I work with creep out just looking at me and constantly tell me I'm anorexic like I had terminal cancer or something); and yet these coaches would rather coach a 12 year old girl that's already taller than me, weighs over 130 pounds just because of her age. If I skate enough I would probably be able to try out death drops again for the fun of ruining my right ankle. Not a lot of little princesses have ever been able to do death drops.

    Not every skater wants to be an Olympic superstar. I preferred getting a college degree and only skate as a hobby but most coaches don't see that way. Maybe the day I show off what my fancy and hard to get degree is I'll get some respect.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  29. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    Because some coaches obviously try to make money by all means, building their and your skating course in function of how much they can make you work with him and trying to make you dependant only on him to do the moves, the program... They don't want you to learn things as good and as fast as possible, they just want you to be dependant on their lessons so that you will always come back to him. Like when they build a program, they use a "perverse" method : you come and pay for a certain time, and they do the work so that you will need to come back because the job is not done and you can't use the work done as it is. You have to come back and pay !!

    A shame, such coaches get a few students but they lose more in the long term because people are not stupid.
  30. dbny

    dbny New Member

    I am a coach and a skater. I love students like you! Where is the challenge in teaching someone who gets everything right away? I also love working with adults because I am an adult skater and feel I have a greater understanding of our challenges than many coaches who skated all their lives. I was a gold roller dancer as a kid, so that gives me a technical background, but ice feels very different! I hope you find the right coach soon!

    I don't think I would agree that it's "most" coaches. I would say "many." It's always hard to lose a student, for whatever reason. I lost one a few years ago, who just kind of sneaked away without a real "good bye." That was very painful, but I knew why she left and why she chose the coach she did, and it made sense. I took the high road, and recently was able to tell her very calmly that she did not handle things right and that it was hurtful to me. She was actually grateful to me for that, because she knew she had made a mistake and it bothered her every time she saw me. Now the air has been cleared (after about 2 years!), and we are friends.

    I left my first coach ever after about 6 years. She had been my DDs' coach and also taught my DH. She was quite wonderful in many ways. I knew for a while that it was no longer a good fit, because there was no discussion, only her opinion. I had also come to realize that she was giving me some wrong info when answering questions. Finally, I think she resented it that I had started coaching, because I'm not a high level skater (and therefor didn't pay my dues like she had.) We were teaching LTS on the same ice and I didn't get my group off in time for hers to take the ice to practice their show number. I think I delayed her by all of 10 seconds, while my group finished their number. I didn't have a clue she was upset with me until I came in for my private lesson with her a few days later. Luckily, we were the only ones on the ice, because she started screaming at me full force. It was so awful that I had to choke back tears. I handed her the lesson fee and fled to the bathroom to sob a while. Got my skates off and made it to the car, where I broke down again. Later, via email, I learned that she felt I had disrespected her publicly, in front of her students' parents, by not getting my kids out of the way in time :wideeyes:. Talk about ego! We both continued to work at the same rink and I never said a word about what had happened except to one friend, whom I knew would not repeat it. From things the Skating Director and assistant SD said, I knew the coach was badmouthing me, but since the things they said were sympathetic towards me, I was actually glad. It took me 1.5 years to find a new coach. I love my current coach and don't see leaving her unless one of us moves away. Not only do I learn skating, but she also is happy to help me if I have a coaching question, and we have had some really good technical discussions.