May 24, 2011

Home for the summer

I've broken a long reader question into component parts.

Issue: I'd been having lessons with my coach for about two years, but I wasn't too happy with them. I love her as a person, but she'd often be talking to the other coaches or texting when she was supposed to be watching me.
Problem: unprofessional coach, disengaged parents, student unwilling to demand her rights
Solution: read that coach the riot act, then fire her

Issue: we would spend so long working on the field moves for exams that we had little time (in the one half-hour lesson I could afford a week) to work on spins and jumps, and I felt that these suffered as a result, as all our focus was on the field moves for my exam.
Problem: conflicting goals, not enough time, poor communication
Solution: make your goals absolutely clear, and make sure you understand, and that the coach conveys, what it will take to reach them. I'm stunned at a student taking just a single half hour lesson a week being told that Moves tests take priority. It's absurd. Moves is ADDITIONAL, not the only thing you work on.

Issue: I went off to university, with our understanding being that I would continue to have lessons with her in the holidays;
Problem: Huh?
Solution: You hate the coaching style, she doesn't share your goals, or indeed pay attention to you during lessons, and basically wastes your time. Going away to college was a gift-wrapped excuse to move on without hurting anyone's feelings.

Issue: after a year of missing out on skating due to being at uni I'm faced with a 3 month summer holiday where I'd really like to get back into skating, and this obviously must include lessons, otherwise I'll never improve. However, I don't think I want to go back to my coach, for the reasons above - I want to just be a recreational skater, trying things for fun, whereas she'll want to push me towards grading, which I have no interest in.
Problem: see previous issue. You have no obligation to this coach. You haven't taken a lesson in a year, and didn't like the lessons. No reasonable person would expect you to continue this relationship, and nothing in PSA ethics or even simple courtesy obligates you.

Issue: she still coaches my sister it's an awkward situation,
Problem: creating issues where there are none. Many families have different coaches for siblings, to make sure that the coaching style matches the student, to avoid rivalry and comparisons, to accommodate schedules and a host of other reasons, or for no reason at all. There's nothing in any coaching manual that says a family can only hire one coach.
Solution: First, the parents need to observe these lessons and make sure that the coach is not pulling the same crap on the sister as on my reader. I cannot imagine why this family feels so committed to this coach.

Issue: I cannot swap to another rink
Problem-- Need more info here. Is there NOT another rink? Transportation issues? I hear this a lot, and sometimes it's more "I'm afraid to switch to another rink where I don't know anyone"
Solution: make sure this is really true before you rule it out.

Issue: I don't think that any of the other coaches will have space to take me on, and most of them at the rink seem to, shall we say, have a similar coaching style to mine.
Problem: Your rink is a mess.
Solution: Run away and don't look back. No, seriously. Observe some of the other coaches. Look for coaches whose students seem to have similar goals and levels to your own. Tell the new coach in so many words exactly what your issue was with the old coach. The old coach is NOT your coach anymore; neither you, your sister, nor any coach you speak with is under any obligation to report that you are making inquiries.


  1. It is clear that this commenter shouldn't be with this coach- and I agree with you that university was the perfect excuse to switch coaches.

    Here is what my comment is about though:
    "I'm stunned at a student taking just a single half hour lesson a week being told that Moves tests take priority. It's absurd. Moves is ADDITIONAL, not the only thing you work on."

    If you are only taking one 30-minute lesson a week, I think you do sometimes have to only do moves. I know with the adult silver test the thing is so freaking long that we can't get through all the moves in just one lesson. So when it was my goal- it was the only thing I did, with maybe, maybe 5 minutes of jumps/spins on the end.

    Now that it's changed, I'm resigned I'll never pass it, so moves will be additional, just to make me a better skater, but when Bronze was my goal, I think that the Bronze MITF practice took up almost all of my lesson time. It took me a few years to master the test, but for 6 months, I'd say that it was 90% of my lesson time.

    Since you can't get to a freestyle level without first doing a moves test, I'd say that in some cases they do need to be the priority. Especially since kids are more likely to practice jumps and spins on their own than moves (the opposite is true for me- I hate jumping and would rather do moves)

    Which is to say- once a week, 30 minute lessons are NOT enough if you really want to grow as a skater. It's just not enough time to get things done.
    (Right now my coach is focusing on jumps- we do 5 minutes of spins, a little over 20 minutes of jumps, and then run the program once. No time for moves, barely any time for spins- usually just 3-5 each of scratch, backspin, sitspin.)

    (sorry if this posted multiple times- I was having a lot of trouble with it)

  2. If Moves is your goal, then that should be the focus of the lesson. But for a truly recreational skater, I don't think passing Moves tests is really that realistic a goal. Anyway, Jessi, you've given me something to think about for a future post! Thanks.

  3. I just started testing and all of my lessons were 90% moves. The issue with jumps is that not everyone is good at all of them, so even if the skate does jumps and spins on their own most of them really only do the jumps and spins they find easy on their own.

    I have a huge consistent flip and land the lutz consistently. I can barely you loop (seriously) and that has a lot to do with working for the mitf test. There simply isn't the time to fit in wrestle to any decent extent because the lives take up all the time.

    I'm all for moves in the field. I really am. But they need the figures treatment because they're really starting to make me question my investment in skating. I don't suck at them, but their weight in the testing process really forces you to put a ridiculous amount of focus on them.

    I can pass the next restate test rite now, but there's no getting to it without doing moves for months...

    Not to mention testing them is unnecessarily stressful field me, lol.

    We only have one year round rink here and within a 200+ mile radius of here. So kids who don't like the rink or need better coaching often end up quitting. Had a talented novice girl quit for that reason, and another in the juvenile level iirc...

  4. OMG! Issue 2 is exactly the scenario we are experiencing with our daughter's right now!

    Coach is also the club's synchro coach and we believe our daughter is her only non-synchro student. Coach spends a disproportional amount of time on moves. Daughter has 2 lessons a week with coach--one designated moves lesson and a freeskate lesson. Moves have also taken over the free skate lesson. Coach spends little time on jumps and spins.

    Daughter is very frustrated because she has been in ISI FS6 for 2 years because she can't consistently land her double salchow (it's been the only thing preventing her from passing for over a year). Also, she has pre-juv free skate level but is not competitive at this level because she doesn't have a double but has a great axel. I think it's ridiculous that it's taken 2+ years to work on her double salchow. My feeling is that someone else needs to evaluate our daughter.

    Daughter is bored with moves! Last summer we went so far as to hire an ice dance coach so daughter wouldn't have to continue with a dedicated moves session during the summer. Presented it to coach that daughter wanted a break from moves for the summer and wanted to try ice dance. Didn't work, coach wouldn't agree to a moves break. (FYI, daughter loves ice dance!) One option is pulling her from figure skating in favor of more ice dance lessons.

    Goals are the same this summer as last summer--consistently land the double salchow so daughter can pass FS6 and be competitve in pre-juv freeskate. We feel no progress has happened in a year. We were supposed to have a meeting with coach last night about our expectations and our concern about a lack of progress and balance in skating (I was the Anonymous who asked for guidelines about what was a resonable expectation about meetings with a coach in your earlier post). The meeting was cancelled. Coach is leaving on vaction (and PSA conference) and we won't see her again for almost a month. Don't know if we should just address our concerns in an email or just let her go. I'm tired of throwing good money after bad. She's a nice person but there are also availability issues with her during synchro season. Don't know what to do. Help!