If I say good things about my coach or suggest he might be a good fit for someone, could that get him in trouble? Otherwise, how can referrals happen? I'm new to this, so I'm still getting a handle on the rules of engagement.This is where you should set rules aside and let your judgment kick in. Ask yourself why you're talking about the coach:
Do I run the risk of getting my coach in trouble by saying (and writing) good things about him?
• Has the coach asked you to talk him up or tell other parents about him? This coach is violating ethical guidelines, especially if he has not told you to talk only to skaters who have no current coaching relationship. Stop doing it. If you're really brave, tell the coach you think he might be violating PSA ethics.
• Are you trying to convince this parent or skater to switch coaches? This is inappropriate, especially if the parent or skater has not asked for your advice. Ethical guidelines for coaches don't cover parents*, however, it can appear that a coach is encouraging or even training parents to solicit students, especially if there is a pattern of a given coach's parents engaging in these sorts of discussions. This is a very difficult reputation to overcome. There is club ice in town where I will not teach, because I got so sick of parents soliciting my kids away from me.
• Are you just proud of your kid? Then brag about the child and not the coach. This may not endear you to your fellow skating parents, but it's better than appearing to solicit on behalf of the coach.
• Are you just proud of your coach? Watch how you report this. Is it more "it's so great what Coach Xan has done for Katy" or is it more "everyone should work with Coach Xan because she's the only one who gets results." First one okay, second one is skirting the line.
Getting back to MER's question, there is no way you can possibly know that a given coach is a good fit for another skater. The most you can report is that the coach has been great for your child. If a parent asks for your advice, there are some steps you can take:
- Give her an honest answer about why you like your coach. Don't say "you should switch."
- Direct her to the US Figure Skating guidelines for parents, especially if the skater is competing in the qualified competitions, where parents can also start to get in trouble for appearing to solicit.*
- Ask your coach, club president, or skating director for the general policies on soliciting at your rink or club, without naming names.
For recreational and lower level skaters, I wouldn't really get my knickers in a twist over this stuff. Don't say anything you don't want repeated. Don't say anything negative about anyone. Ever. Don't say anything you'll regret.
*For national competitors, parents actually do have to adhere to ethical guidelines, violations of which can impact the skater's standing. But it's better to practice good habits from the get-go.