Sep 9, 2010

What if the coach leaves you?

It happens-- people have babies, or go back to school, or get a new job, or just decide that coaching isn't for them. So what do you do when it's not you quitting your coach, but your coach quitting you?

I'm not talking about those rare instances where the coach "fires" a skater-- if things are bad enough that the coach can't stand you anymore, you're probably ready for a change. But coaches have lives that sometimes interfere with existing relationships; recently at our rink a very beloved coach got transferred by her day job to another city. She was gone in the space of about 2 weeks. It's wrenching. Here's how to make this easier on everyone:

Don't feed the gossip mill
Let the coach make the announcement on his or her schedule. If she lets her students know she's leaving, but asks them not to share that information, don't. Especially don't have Facebook or other online social media discussions about it, because these have a way of going rogue, even when you think only certain people can see them. I find out the most amazing proprietary things on Facebook because parents especially don't really understand just how public a forum that is.

Don't complain about it
Especially to your skater. The child here is already going to feel a little abandoned. Kids are very self-centered, and can take this kind of change quite hard. Your coach has very good reasons for living his life on his terms and not yours. Usually students/parents are good about supporting a coach's life changing decisions, but every now and then you'll hear someone trashing the coach's decision, which is fairly inexplicable because, frankly my dear, he doesn't give a damn. Be supportive. Keep it in perspective.

Getting a new coach
Most coaches will either help you find a new coach, or will actually turn their students over to someone, often without really consulting the students or the parents. This is both good and bad. Coaches know each others' teaching styles, and each others' students, and will be able to suggest a good fit. But sometimes, they just want to pass their kids on to their friends, or prevent some "rival" coach from getting "their" students. So a suggested coaching change is just that-- a suggestion. You can actually audition coaches, and it's a great time to take this opportunity-- you are suddenly without a coach so there are zero ethical problems or feelings to be hurt if you take a few weeks to do a couple of lessons with a variety of coaches. This is a dream situation. Just make clear to everyone--each coach, old coach, all the parents, and all the kids-- that none of these are permanent coaching situations. It's one time when the gossip mill can work for you.

Keep in touch
Most of the time (not always), your old coach will want to hear, at least for a couple of months, how the student is doing. Send her or him emails, and let them know about ice shows and other performances. Let them know when the kid lands her axel, or other milestones. After a few weeks, you can let this go, or keep it up, whatever seems appropriate. I keep in touch with all of my former students, on a very casual basis, but not everyone is comfortable with this. I personally do not feel it is appropriate for adults to be Facebook friends with minors, (even when they are closely related because that gives you too much access to their friends' private conversations), but especially not with students. Keep those lives separate. However, it might be nice to "friend" their parents. Again, whatever seems appropriate.

Use common sense
In fact, of course, this should guide everything you do.

No comments:

Post a Comment