In the late 90s, when I was still just a half-committed recreational skater, I was in a freestyle one class and was having murderous difficulty with the jumps. Years later a coach who was actually paying attention figured out that I'm a lefty jumper, but no one in that FS1 class was paying close enough attention to notice this.
Who cares about the stupid adult after all?
One day I asked the coach if she could help me figure out why I was having so much trouble with this jump. She asked me to demonstrate it, so I did, badly, and asked her if she could tell what the problem was.
That was it. She shrugged.
I stood there and literally thought "I could not possibly be a worse teacher than this."
And that is how I started thinking about coaching.
Most people get into coaching because it's a pretty lucrative gig for a college kid who's spent her whole life inside a skating rink. This is the easy path-- many kids end up teaching at the rink where they grew up. Move to a new city and there's bound to be a rink that needs a moderately credentialed coach.
And there's the rub. As I've written about before (although it's getting better since that was written), credentialing for coaching is a sad joke, namely, that you don't really need any credentials to be a coach.
Before all the coaches and PSA spies on here go ballistic over that statement, here's the rundown on steps to take to get into coaching.
Through at least Intermediate, Moves and Freeskate, or ISI FS6. If you test through Senior/FS8, that pretty much guarantees you a coaching job. In markets where practice ice is run by the local club there will sometimes be a minimum test level, usually Intermediate or ISI FS6, to be allowed to teach on the club ice. However, you don't need to be a "good" skater to coach-- plenty of less than stellar skaters pass these test levels, and I see lots of funky technique at coaching seminars (pot, meet kettle).
While I was originally hired by a quite visionary (some would say crazy) skating director who had a "hire the smile" philosophy, my route into coaching was very unusual, as I actually did not have any reasonable qualification. If you are a low skater (FS3 or under) and want to teach, I highly recommend going the PSA Ratings route as I did. Ratings are expensive to pursue-- I basically stopped testing so that I could afford the ratings, which is why I topped out testing at PreBronze/Prelim Dance, Moves and Figures, but you will learn how to teach through the seminars and other opportunities, and rink management like rated coaches.
Skating is one of the few youth sports where volunteer parents do not dominate coaching in recreational programs. That said, if you are a strong recreational skater, call up the skating director and offer to volunteer in tot and PreAlpha classes, or for ice show rehearsals, which always need extra hands for bathroom breaks, non-gliders and boys who can't stand still. I volunteered at the Ice Rink of the Damned for three years before they hired me, which is how I learned how to teach.
These three routes give you the resume you need to be credible in applying for a coaching job. Getting the job is the easy part. Part 2 will discuss how to actually learn how to coach.