My skater's coach wants her to spend more time practicing and less time socializing with her friends at the rink. I've asked her coach to give me a set amount of time she should be practicing but he keeps it vague and says things like "a balance between work and play" "keep skating fun and progress" but then also thinks she shouldn't be able to stay and socialize if she hasn't done enough practicing. I told my daughter that if her coach didn't think shed been practicing enough she wouldn't be able to stay for social time. She told me I was "ruining it for her". Any advice?I tell a story about my daughter at practice ice one day. She and a couple of friends were having a spinning contest-- longest spin, most features, most creative, prettiest--and having a really good time doing it. A coach called her over to yell at for for "having too much fun. Skating is serious and if you're not taking it seriously you should leave." Being my daughter, she told him to take a flying leap.
Even elite skaters love skating. They do it because it's fun to skate, it's fun to be the best, it's fun to win. They wouldn't be doing it if it was a horrible slog that made them constantly miserable, with no social or emotional rewards. Work is important, and work ethic is important. But reward is important too.
Why are you at the rink?
Well, to skate, but there are lots of other reasons too. To avoid starting homework. To avoid being at home. To see your friends. However, I'm with that coach on this one. The reason you are at the rink is to skate. So that's the first priority, and blowing off skating is a reason to withhold the reward, in this case socializing. But it doesn't have to be punitive. More of an if-then proposition. If you goof off in class, or hang at the boards instead of practicing, then we go home straight after practice and no socializing today.
But your RUining it
(Imagine that 9-year-old whine). Tough love, baby. Mom's not ruining it. Skater is ruining it by not taking the skating seriously, so that she earns the downtime afterwards.
Many skaters blame social pressure on the relentless socializing, clique-forming, and hanging-instead-of-working at the rink, so that girls also feel pressure NOT to work. Skaters who insist on taking the skating seriously at a recreational rink can develop a reputation for being snobbish or unfriendly. They feel pressure to not seem to above themselves by working too hard. Some coaches are really good at making the work part of the socializing, but if you've got a coach with a smaller program, or a different philosophy, they work needs to be rewarding. If you've got a skater whom you want to work, make sure the rewards are clear and immediate. Don't yank her out of the rink the second she's done, don't monopolize her time while you're there. Let her have her social time.
You are not the coach
The hardest part of getting the skater onto the rink is that the coach is out there, and the kid is hanging in the lobby wasting time. Coach is most likely not going to get off the rink to track down your skater. But you can also not assume the role of the coach. So be the parent. If your skater is dillydallying, rather than continually demanding they get on the ice (coach's role), just pick up their stuff, and say, hey if you're not going to skate, let's go home. Remember--the socializing is the reward for the skating.
Make the skating social
Goofing off or socializing during class or lesson of course is verboten, and earns the removal of the reward. Practice is another thing. While skaters do need to focus on their own skating during practice, you and the coach can probably come up with a system that allows the skating and the socializing to blend sometimes. Maybe one practice session a week is on my daughter's model--the girls were working (on spins) but had come up with a way to make this fun and social. That other coach was first, a putz, and second unprofessional (because he wasn't their coach, and they weren't interfering with anyone's ability to skate). So choose a session a week, and let the girls direct their own practice; no coach or parent interference. The only proscription is no hanging on the boards to talk.
Like the last suggestion, this one requires some cross-parental and -coach coordination. See if the culprits can do an off-ice or conditioning class together. This adds work+socializing as well.
Yes, take class. A lot of higher level skaters stop taking classes because they think they're too good, or the coach is a snob about it, but class is another place where there are many more opportunities to both work and hang out. Higher level skaters don't need to be taking skills-based classes, so look for specialty classes like Jump Workshop, Moves, Ice Dance, Choreography, or whatever your rink offers.
What have you or your skater done to keep the fun in figure skating? How do you balance work and socializing?