Apr 11, 2012

Go away, mom!

From the keyword search: "When parents interfering is crossing the line." I know this one, sadly, from the inside out, because I was That Mom. Here are the warning signs:

•  Coach is letting all your calls go to voice mail.

•  You call the coach more often than you call your mother.

•  Coach is suddenly doing about-faces when she sees you in the lobby.

•  Kid stops skating the second you show your face inside the rink door.

•  You research skating techniques so you can drill the coach on the latest discussions about skid or no skid on double axels.

•  You're thinking of getting certified as a judge.

•  You try to join USFS and ISI as a professional member.

•  You know the IJS long program rules for your daughter's current skating level.

•  You are convinced that your daughter's poor rank at the latest non-qualifying competition is due to dishonest judges, club favoritism, incompetent coaching or all three.

•  You're considering calling Brian Orser about coaching your Intermediate skater, who has never made it out of a qualifying round.

•  You're considering hiring a sport psychologist for your Intermediate skater.

•  You make your skater review everything she did wrong in practice or, worse, the competition, on the car ride home.

•  You bought K-picks for your 8 year old.

When did you know you had crossed the line?


  1. Does "Forcing teen skater to enter small ISI competition by threatening to take away skating for two weeks if she didn't" count?

  2. You google competitors' youtube videos. :D

  3. You teach your five your old off-ice half turn hops up into an "h" position… and repackage them as tween/hip-hop moves so as to make them more interesting.

  4. Bah! I've done this, lol!!! Normally, I do and then go "oh wow, they're GOOD!" and then regret that I did it. ;-)

    1. That was supposed to go under "google competitor videos"

    2. Josetteplank - LOL, yes that happens every time. Everyone looks great on youtube!

  5. I think this leads to another interesting conversation. In predominantly male team sports, many of these confessions would be thought of as just being (or raising) a smart competitor… Why is it in skating the appearance of, "it just comes natural…" "really she got an axel after two months of skating"…. etc is the gold standard. And why is it in skating while we who know anything about skating know there truly is a rush, but everyone has to pretend there is no hurry. Hockey parents have no problem putting their 3 year old in privates,,, I know because I teach those kids. Mite teams practice 3 or 4 times a week. But if a figure skater parent put a 5 year old in 4 or 5 skate school sessions the parent would quickly get a reputation. I know because I teach those kids. And football coaches watch competitive teams all season - it's part of the job. I think in skating, gymnastics etc, it is viewed as perhaps not feminine to really want to win. Or at least you're not supposed to say it. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a senior lady/girl just say I really want to go out there and crush the competition. I want to WIN! Rather than, my goal is to skate my personal best, etc etc….

    1. I don't think this is really true. I think there is as much honor for the work ethic in skating as in anything else. And frankly I brush the over-the-top parents in ANY sport with the same brush. There actually IS time. You don't have to start at 5, let alone 3, to end up a champion, in skating or anything else.

    2. Yes, Xan you are right! It is such a part of our culture though…starting soccer in 1st grade is considered late, language immersion in K because early is better, high school math in middle school, etc etc…. Yet, I don't really mind/brush off the parents who sign 4 year olds for privates etc… It just doesn't seem so over the top these days.

      Because I have been involved in very different sports with both my boys and girls , I just think it is interesting the differences in perspective. Not necessarily what "should be" or is most healthy… :) I wouldn't really want to hear a senior lady say that before a competition, I just think it is interesting my boys are encouraged to think such things and the girls not so much. (Thankfully)

  6. Because at the end of the day the only thing that a skater can control is her skate. My daughter has to remain inside her head and focus on herself, she cannot worry about the other girls. Personal best is much more important than "winning". She needs to self evaluate the experience.

    I think parents who downplay their child's hard work, energy and effort by being flippant with "2 months" are doing their child a disservice. If their child really did get a competitive clean Axel in 2 months, woo-hoo! I have to laugh though, when dd's Axel was declared "good" she was brought right back down to earth with the next jump in the next lesson, and then the next.... :D There isn't a resting place, they just keep working hard!~Meg

  7. I always tell my younger (new-to-parenting) friends "Your relationship with your daughter is more important than what you want for her." Certainly you should be sure to be there when she needs you, but also give her the "space" that she needs. Sometimes skating is just about the socializing, fun, and messing around, and that should be okay too...

    It's easier to be "distant" and sense when she wants more attention, than to be hanging over the boards waiting for her to give you a hockey spray-stop "hint."

    1. I guess the corollary to this is (for goodness sake) a parent should bring stuff to the rink to do for himself! A parent should be doing more than IM on their cellphone; bring along an engrossing book or home-work. Grade those student papers! Do work-related research on the free wi-fi. Yada yada yada.

    2. Right? Although this is how I ended up as a coach-- the other thing I found to do was learn to skate!

  8. LOL Jeff... I tried bringing work to do but she would keep trying to get my attention with Mom look! Mom watch!

    I noticed recently that she rarely looks in my direction now...she is now scanning the rink for her coach - even when she isn't in a class or lesson.

    His comments mean a LOT more to her than my clueless smile and nodding.

    :P Personally I love having nothing to do at the rink. Between managing a household and being the sole provider, I relish a couple hours here or an hour there with nothing to do. My distant relatives enjoy the side effects - on time birthday cards and snail mail. :D ~Meg

  9. "You know the IJS long program rules for your daughter's current skating level."

    I do know this. But in my defense, I've become an honest skate geek who actually enjoys following skaters up the ranks (not just my kiddo). :-D

  10. You build your child a training facility. I actually know parents who have done this in gymnastics...

  11. RE: The killer instinct and why you may not hear the usual "kill the competition" sentiments from Skaters (and other sports figures).

    Professional Sports Psychologists in general help competitors to focus on what they can control, for all sports, not just "girl" or "boy" sports in particular.

    Figure skating is a judged sport. You can only do your best. You can't control the judging, you can't control how your competitor skates on any given day. You can control how you nail your elements, how you perform your own program.

    Of course the skaters want to kick some butt, but the way they do that is to focus on their own game. It's the most productive focus a competitor can have. When they give what sounds like "cliches" at the end of their performances, it's because that is how most elite athlete winners eventually get to where they want to be. (i.e. I wanted to go out there and skate my best, I a happy with my performance because I nailed X element.)

    I have a boy skater and he is taught to do exactly this. That doesn't mean he is not thinking that he wants to win, of course he wants skate lights out, he's competitive, that's why he's competing. He wants to win.

    But he has taken a positive step towards that objective by focusing on his own game, his own goals rather than something that is out of his control...winning (since that requires the judges to fall into line, the ice to be a certain way, the breeze to be blowing through your hair the right way etc etc) LOL.

    Oh, and yes, I've been known to you tube competitors videos or Ice network them. LOL. Not very helpful as they always are better than they are the next time they compete LOL.

    Another great post and comments!