This is especially critical at this time of year, when 1,500 elite-level singles skaters start competing for just 360 spots at Sectionals, and only about 130 spots at Nationals/Junior Nationals.
That's 1370 mighty disappointed kids.
Of course, most of those kids understand that they really don't have a realistic chance even at final round at Regionals, let alone making it to Nationals. But even if you just count those with "a shot," say the top 30-35%, that's still a few hundred really sad kids who didn't land the double axel when it counted. And face it, sometimes kids (and coaches) are delusional, and even a predictable loss comes as a shock and a giant demotivator.
If there isn't an obvious issue like disappointment over competition results, you need to look a little deeper.
The first thing to do is identify why a formerly enthusiastic and currently ambitious skater stops working. Is there an injury that they haven't fessed up about? Are there social problems at the rink or school, or personality (or more ominous) issues with the coach? Are there family issues that you as the parent don't realize your skater is concerned about, including money, stability, etc.
Coaching issues are a little harder. First, tell the coach about difficulties you're having getting your skater to the rink. It's possible that she's giving you grief, but then is fine once she's at the rink. The proper solution to this is the patented parental eye roll when she starts up.
If that's not it, then drop in at lessons and practices unannounced (because you are totally not hanging out watching every single practice and lesson for your high level skater, right? RIGHT?) and observe the coaching and on-ice dynamics. Does your skater appear distracted? Is she using her practice time poorly (i.e. hanging out at the boards, getting on and off the ice, poorly organized approach)? Does she appear isolated from other skaters? Do skaters seem to be interfering with her practice patterns, beyond the general chaos that is a freestyle session? Is her coach focused on her (and she on the coach?) Observe in as non-judgmental a way as possible, and then ask neutral questions about what you think you're seeing.
All well and good to figure out why your skater is unmotivated. What do you do about it? Tomorrow, we'll explore some of the things you can do to help your skater overcome her loss of skating mojo.
How did your skater show a loss of motivation?