Sep 24, 2010

Arguing with the coach

One takes lessons for numerous reasons: to benefit from the advice of an expert, to get an outside hand to push you to more and more advanced abilities, to get an objective opinion about your skill, talent and/or prospects, to force you to skate a certain amount, to prepare for testing, exhibition, or competition.

Private lessons, of course, are expensive, but even classes consume resources--time, effort, money.

So then why would you sign up for this torture just to argue with the coach?

I don't mean the occasional ahem discussion about cost, time, or specific technique. I'm talking about telling a coach that their technique is wrong, or that what they are asking cannot be done for whatever reason. Here are the reasons I have heard, mostly from parents and adult students this week:
  • I already know how to do that (gee, I already know how to read, so I guess I never have to do that again)
  • I refuse to try what you're suggesting because numbleplup, now please tell me why I don't skate better.
  • I'm having enough trouble with A, to even have to listen to a coach ask for B
  • Everyone else told me to do it this way (demonstrates completely bizarre technique that they made up themselves)
  • Isn't that in (name level lower than the one you think you are in, as though you will never have to do those skills again)
  • I AM doing what you told me (not) and anyway it's wrong (and you would know this because of the years and years of figure skating training you've shared with me?) and anyway, no one else does it like that, and anyway if I do that I'll get hurt, and anyway, I can't. sigh.
  • My arm/leg/head/tooth/hair/dog hurts (so stay home! No one cares if you miss a class, it's not going to go on your permanent record)
  • I'm afraid to fall (then take up chess)
  • My other coach said I don't have to do it your way (this will almost never happen plus I kinda don't care)
My point is, if you keep offering a coach excuses as to why you cannot work, listen, or improve, after a while, he or she is just going to say "okay!" Because the fact is, I skate better than you for the most part, and if I don't skate better than you, I know how to help you skate better. And if you won't let me help you, after a while I'm going to stop trying.

Here's the reality- skating is scary and hard. You have to do crazy stuff like jump, and turn at speed, and pick up one foot. You. Are. Going. To. Fall. In 15 years on the ice, I have seen just seven or eight injuries that required a trip to the doctor. I've seen and taught thousands of people to skate. Recreational skating is not any more dangerous than crossing the street. But crossing the street is free, and you don't argue with the traffic cop.

Arguing with a coach over technique is so counterproductive as to be absurd. I have a fun job, but you're making it be kind of a drag.


  1. Ooooo the 5th excuse was my favorite! And I never fall skating. J/K I'm the one you see wrapped in bubble wrap as she does double after double. Some parents I just don't understand. I feel your pain.

  2. I forgot "I think the blades are mounted wrong"

  3. Ack! But I'm old and made of china tea cups! ;-)

    I will say that all of my Learn To Skate coaches are very good at giving me a bit more room to get used to the idea of doing something that might immediately set me on my butt, so when they tell me "Okay, you're ready for real this time" it's because they can see that I just need that nudge to do what it is I really do want to do.

    Really, I do want to learn to skate. :-)

    I will also say that, yes, I'm guilty of "But I just got my heel and hip and toe and knee doing what you said. Are you really asking me to add my shoulder and shoulder blade and arm and hand?" I usually need a grocery list to remember that many things. ;-) But I have read that skating is a very intellectual activity as well as a physical one; it does take a lot of concentration on Every Single Body Part. I'm hoping the extra brain work will stave off any middle-aged dementia.

  4. Like I said, especially with adults, it's not how slow you take, or legit excuses. It's the week after week with excuses and arguments. And this week it just got hilarious after a while, because a day did not go by without some ridiculous comment from a student or a parent.

    My friend Adam says it's because Mercury was in retrograde.

  5. I am guilty of arguing with my coach about technique, lol. She doesn't like my 3turn entrance and I absolutely refuse to enter my flip from a mohawk. She hasn't mentioned it for a couple of weeks, but I'm afraid she'll try to spring it on me again soon.

    Is "I was doing this fine before you started watching" considered an excuse? Because it really does happen to me all the time- I warm up with good jumps and they disappear when coach comes for my lesson!

  6. Anon, it's in the secret coaches manual to NEVER be watching when the student does it right. :)

  7. This is why no one has ever seen my sit spin!

  8. My daughter will say, "You made me mess up that jump!"

    From 30 feet away. In the stands. Talking to the other parents. I am an amazing and magical person. ;-)

  9. You did, too. All your fault. ;)

  10. I just give my coach an eyebrows raised-I-think-you're-crazy-trying-to-get-me-to-do-a-crossover-when-I-can-barely-do-a-one-foot-glide look then I smile and have a go, I think she likes it when I try even when I just go round in a circle and only pick up my foot once :) Also, good blog, got the link from :)

  11. I'm told I regularly pull faces at my coach when she tells me to do something new. This isn't because I think she's wrong, it's because I think she's overestimating my ability lol!

    I'm another adult skater who is utterly unable to think about my feet, leg, body, hip, stomach, arms, hands, and head at the exact same time! So when I do my salchow and my coach corrects my arms, I then do it with absolutely terrible everything else (and my arms may or may not be doing what she told me to do).

    I also maintain that if I can't see a body part (especially my feet!) I have no idea where it is or what it's doing. And I have little or no control over my arms at least half the time! My body parts think for themselves, and they don't wanna do what coach wants them to!!!

  12. Erica, I've always said I discover a new body part that I never knew I had every time I skate.