Oct 11, 2009

The nice coach or the effective coach?

Here's a scenario-- your child is in class, laughing and talking with the coach, having lots and lots of fun, and he tells you that he "loves" the coach. The coach also seems to really connect with your child, and at evaluation time, passes into the next level.

In the next, higher level class, 3 or 4 lessons go by and your child is struggling. He's unhappy, he's not responding to the coach, and tells you that the coach is "hard" or "mean." And then the coach lets you know that he's struggling because his skills were not where they needed to be at the start of the class.

So which coach should earn your wrath? The "nice" one who let your child have fun without teaching him anything, and then did what I call "cuting" him into the next level? (That's a pass because the kid's so cute, you pass him for his bright eyes, and not his skating ability.) Or the "mean" one who insists on a child behaving and learning at the level he's been signed up for.

More in a future post on how to deal with your child getting "cuted" up a level. In the meantime, do you suspect your child has been "cuted" up? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Give me a "mean" but effective coach any day! The nice coach does a disservice to the skater by moving them up a level before they are ready. The one that pays the price is the skater. So the "nice" coach looks like a hero and the skater is left to struggle because they don't have the proper underpinnings. I know this because it happened to my daughter.

  2. Anon, I couldn't agree more. "Cuting" skaters up is all about the coach's ego.

  3. Wow! First time I've heard anyone mention this but this is exactly what happened to our daughter. The coach in question started out as our daughter's group lesson coach and eventually we hired her as our private coach (our daughter was then 9 and in Delta). Caught on to what was happening approx. 18 months after we hired her and have struggled for 2 years to fix her technique. She had poor stroking skills, extension, knee bend, posture and body positions. We left the coach when her availability changed, taking advantage of the opportunity without mentioning the apparent problems as the reason for leaving. We thought we left under good terms but the coach has not spoken to us or our daughter since, and we see her frequently. What should we do? We try to greet her and smile but she has physically turned her back on us and totally ignored us. Just as an FYI, our daughter is now more advanced than any of her current students and I think she may be resentful. We would like to have a good relationship with her--any suggestions?

  4. @anon-- I don't think you need to go out of your way, but just keep letting the coach know there are no hard feelings. My high-test competitive daughter left her long time coach and he took it very hard. Didn't talk to her for years. We just kept at him and eventually they remembered that they actually really liked each other.

    It does, however, give me an idea for a post! Watch this blog for "How to change coaches."

  5. Excellent post and I agree with everything you said. But we just changed coaches - from the mean one to the nice(r) one!.

    While this sounds totally wrong, let me explain we are talking about a teenaged competitive skater. The coach we just left was excellent technically, and brought my daughter's skill level up substantially. But coach #1's style left my daughter doubting herself - the constant criticism, nit picking and negativity without a balancing dose of praise left her feeling like she just didn't have what it took - she can do it all at practice, but competitions are a different story. 2A need confidence - but DD is convinced its just a fluke if she lands them in competition! We had DD work with a mental coach - which helped, but coach #1 didn't want anything to do with it, and didn't see the point. So, we've now switched - to a coach that we hope will bring back her confidence and competitive edge. Coach #2 has happy skaters who believe in themselves - and she is strict about the basics. She isn't quite as strong technically, but she realizes this and is arranging for lessons with coach #3 to help out. If nothing else, I hope my daughter will like skating again.

  6. Not sure if both anons are the same person, but, sounds like both had the right idea. To understand what the skater needs most. A technically strong skater who can't perform needs to have performance issues examined. A technically indifferent skater who can't progress needs to have skills examined. (for loving this sport so much, we all need to have our heads examined). A coach who doesn't understand what it is a given skater needs, or who won't address ongoing issues in a productive way, is not the right coach for that skater.