Mar 27, 2010

Signs of a bad group class

To some extent, it's all about outcome. You can tell a class or a coach is good, i.e. effective, if the majority of students are getting better.

But there are ways to spot a class where the coach isn't making the optimum environment for this to happen.

Kids aren't moving
Especially at the very beginning levels, like tot classes, and Pre Alpha/Basic 1-2, what skaters need most is mileage, and the ability to push themselves to a glide. A beginner class where kids are standing around a good bit of time waiting for the coach, or waiting for the slower skaters, is a weak class. (sometimes waiting is okay, but it should be kept to a minimum). Get those kids moving!

Coach is constantly yelling at the kids to behave
This is not a sign of a "tough coach" or bad kids. This is a sign of a coach who doesn't know how to control a class.

In a class with two coaches, the coaches are spending all their time talking to each other
Two coaches? They should hardly ever even be standing together, let alone gabbing. One should be leading the class, one should be helping the outliers, or the criers, or supervising the speedy ones that made it across the ice first.

The "outlier" kids get no attention
The outlier kids are the ones at either end of the bell curve-- the really good skaters and the really bad skaters. A weaker coach will ignore these kids, expecting them to either learn on their own (the good ones) or learn to catch up (the bad ones). You can't give these kids all your attention, but a good coach will find ways to keep them with the class, and succeeding within their own needs and limitations.

There are lots of injuries
I'm not talking about falls. There are always falls in skating classes. But if some child is getting sent off the ice for first aid at every single session, something is wrong. Ask the teacher why so many kids are getting hurt. It should not be rare to make it through an entire session of beginning classes (through Delta), or more than one session, without having to get a single bandaid or ice pack.

The coach talks a lot
It's not a university lecture, it's a skating class. Adults love this--standing around talking is way less scary than actually moving. But even they have to move eventually. If the coach is talking without the kids moving for more than a few minutes of the class, it's too much. And you can see when it's too much, because they kids will start wandering off.

Nobody passes
This is a tough one, but I would consider it a red flag. There should be one kid able to pass at every level.

Nobody passes, except the kids taking privates from that coach and his/her cronies
Yeah. Nuff said.

Coach only talks to those kids from the last example
Complain to management; ask them to come observe a class.

Coach never steps off the ice to talk to parents
Even in the most densely scheduled programs, at some point in the session (not necessarily every week), the coach should make herself available to the parents.

Coach doesn't know the kids names
If you never see the coach taking attendance, you can be pretty sure he's not going to know your child's name. I consider this actually insulting; it turns the child into a cog or a commodity. There are coaches at my rink who tell me I'm too tense because I take attendance. But I'll just bet those coaches are not getting hugs at the mall when their students see them there.

What bad coaching have you observed?


  1. Coaches Talking, student teachers talking to children like they are adults, coach telling a child her move was stupid. Ha yea that happened

  2. Depends what the move was. ;)

  3. Oh we have one of those coaches...the one that talks too loudly and on top of it explains things in so much detail that the kids just stand around listening instead of doing.

    I can hear her voice on the other side of the rink with several classes going on. It's one of those nails on a chalkboard things. I'm hoping as she gets older she calms a bit.

  4. Our program had to make it a rule that an instructor cannot teach a group that includes one of their private students. They break down the levels into smaller work groups to achieve this. It doesn't, however, prevent the offending coaches from watching their students from across the rink and missing what's going on in their own group.

  5. We have a coach who consistently has students who leave the ice crying. This is mostly due to the fact that they do not explain things well and then yells at the kids telling them that they are stupid for not understanding. I will never understand why parents continue to let them teach their children.

  6. DD had a coach that focused only on fun and being silly. Well that amounted to a very expensive 10 week playdate. None of the kids moved up or learned anything. We were lucky that the following weekend there was a clinic so dd went. In 3 days she moved up 1 full level (from 3 to 4)and even mastered backward crossovers (something from 5). Boy was I upset after those 10 weeks.