Oct 7, 2009

Let's hear it for the moms

In a lot of youth sports, the teachers at the beginner, and even intermediate levels, are parents, who may or may not also have training or experience in the sport.  I think I'm fairly rare in figure skating as an amateur "adult-onset" skater and parent who got into teaching the sport.

I'm a mom who went the pro route-- I took lessons and passed tests and got rated through the Professional Skaters Association.  (I'm often amused when my colleagues momentarily forget my background and start trashing skating moms who coach.  Hello?  That's me.)

Coaches will tell you this is because skating is a sport that requires a high degree of technique from early in the process, but I'm a little on the fence about that.  I often wonder how many kids we discourage because of standards that emphasize skating on a competitive track from early on, even at the purely local, recreational level (competitions for kids that have no ability or desire to skate in national or regional-level competitions).  Less skill-based and more fun-based teaching for beginners might keep more kids in the sport.

I would also love to see parents more involved in teaching at the beginning and recreational levels.  Lots of young skaters have parents who skated as kids; so often I'll learn that somebody's mom has passed high-level freestyle tests, and I ask why I don't see them skating or teaching and they dismiss the idea as ridiculous.  Why is that?  Lots and lots of hockey, soccer, and baseball coaches are dads that played these sports in high school or college, and now they teach it as volunteers on weekends.

I think if we got more moms involved in teaching skating we'd see a better understanding of the coaching profession, more kids staying in skating longer, and frankly we'd just have more fun at the rink.

Of course, I never was a soccer mom, so who knows what kind of soap operas are going on in the playing fields of America.

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