Feb 5, 2011

In search of Type III Parents

I originally found the following on the Lone Star Figure Skating Club website in 2006. It was written by Robert Mock and used in presentations by Dr. Gayle Davis, including a PSA seminar that I attended (can't remember if it was a coaching seminar or a parent's seminar). Don't forget to check out my version "In Search of Type III Coaches"). Thank you to a reader for tracking down Dr. Davis for me!

Parenting Styles
Reprinted with permission from Sports Psychologist Dr. Gayle Davis.

At every competition and test session, I hear coaches and judges voicing concerns over the dramatic change of behavior by parents in the past several years.

Generally three types of parents are stalking the ice rinks of America.
Type I Parents are rarely seen by anyone. They are the folks who drop off their skaters at the door and whiz off in their BMW's. These parents are generally wrapped up in their own careers and feel skating is a good pursuit for their children.

Type I parents leave decisions up to the coach, rarely interfere unless skating conflicts with their own world, i.e.. vacations, family functions, etc.

Coaches and officials seldom have difficulty with these parents. They pay their bills and maintain a low (or no) profile in the skating world. Usually, coaches become surrogate parents to Type I's children, and skaters develop a strong relationship with their coaches. Training areas, where very little is expected of parents tend to be full of Type I Parent's children. Coaches are very useful to Type I Parents. They generally like the arrangement, and the skaters seem to do well.

Type II Parents make coaches and officials very uncomfortable, as they are (or seem to be) at the rink 24 hours a day. They are advocates looking for a cause, and they usually become obsessed with their children's skating careers, living through their children.

Type II Parents think they know more than coaches and judges, and spend their time either at rinkside coaching their children or in the lobby giving advice about what coach everyone should be taking lessons from.

Type II parents have no loyalty to any coach or rink, and no respect for the USFSA system or officials. They are consumers of skating, trying to buy, maneuver and outsmart the competition. As they lose touch with reality (usually in the first or second year of skating) they become a coach's nightmare, as they feel that they must have total control over the coach and the decisions being made.

Winning and passing tests are their only priority. Anything less is usually dealt with through threatening a coaching change. Children of Type II's tend to flourish early on, but fizzle out from the stress of the constant demands of parents who are sure their child is headed for the Olympics.

Type II Parents and (unfortunately) their skaters are generally eliminated by the system. Eventually they cross the wrong official or are done in by their own hands...given enough rope.

Type III Parents are becoming more and more rare. They are the parents who step back and let the coaches do their job. Type III's know that their duties as parents involve support roles that are vital to the success of their child. They see that the skater gets to the rink on schedule, is properly dressed for skating, and lives a happy and well balanced life away from the arena.

At tests and competitions, they turn their children over to the coaches, and do not interfere. Type III Parents monitor the progress of their children as individuals first and within their peer group second, if at all.

Type III Parents make appointments with coaches if questions arise and are always ready to pitch in if a coach needs input or help. They respect the knowledge of the coaches and listen to their recommendations. They also have utmost respect for the judges and the USFSA system. Coaches feel fortunate to have Type III's and their skaters within the rink.


Coaches and officials are very concerned over the increased number of Type II Parents and their skaters within the skating community. As their numbers increase, they set a bad example for new parents coming into the sport, and become a never ending source of trouble for the rink, the club and the skating community.

The best way to avoid a problem is to set down rules early, and stand behind them without hesitation. Parents have a right to be informed by their coaches, and to have a basic understanding of their child's progress, but coaches and judges must define the parent's role from the beginning. This is the way to have a healthy situation for the skater an everyone.


  1. Hooray! Very nicely said. This should be framed in the lobby of every skating rink.

  2. Type II parents will also scare away the type IIIs who aren't willing to put up with their crap.

  3. Unfortunately, Parenting in general is a stupid horserace as to who has the "best" kid. That makes you the "better" parent, and the "better" person.

    Skating just takes every parental insecurity ever devised and puts them onto a giant public stage. I think it's worse than Child Acting/Performing because now we have actual numbers, levels, grades, competitions, and falling on your rear in spangles is much more public than flopping an audition.

    I think the root of any Type II parent is Fear, fear of being discovered to be anything less than "the best" or "perfect." We're all just muddling through here, so relax.

  4. If I were Empress of Everything (other than in my mind), Type IIs would be required to either take group classes through FS 5 or submit to handcuffs & a ball gag before entering the rink. The Empress likes to offer choices.

  5. I like the Russian system best, where they simply barred all parents at the door. There's a great photo kicking around (been trying to find it for years) of parents sitting outside in the cold, peering thru tiny scratches in the painted-out rink windows.

  6. Hi Xan:

    Your answer to finding Dr. Gayle Davis


    Lone Star Figure Skating club no longer exists but most of skaters families and coaches belong to of Stars FSC of Texas. Good Subject!

  7. Anon, thank you. I've emailed her and hope we can either leave the article up, or get a link from Dr. Davis.