May 14, 2013

What I wish I'd known to ask

Things I learned the hard way:

What's involved in competitions?
Both the obvious things like dedicated/extra cost, travel, extra practice time, how to get music. But also what happens when I get there? What's the parent's role? How many should we do?

Why should my skater do this particular competition?
I somehow got the impression that there were required competitions. I had no clue what that there was a thing called "non qualifying competition." No one ever told me what "regionals" was-- I thought you had to be invited, because our original coach never brought it up, and the mothers of the kids who went lorded it over us. Ask your coach why he/she does certain competitions, and what the value is in going to them.

Why do those kids go to different competitions?

Why don't I see the rink's best skaters at the competitions that my skater goes to?
 It might be that you're just not seeing them. It might be that your coach is taking you to crappy competitions, for reasons unknown.

How do you get to Nationals?
By which I mean, know what the path is, not whether you're talented enough.

What is "moves?" (or any other technical class)
Another thing I didn't learn until I started coaching.

Why should I join ISI-- what does that mean?

Why should I join USFS and does it matter which club?
In a small market, there's probably only one club. But in a large market like Chicago there are a lot of them. Our coach had us sign up for the "prestige" club, but frankly it was all in his head. This club had a terrible testing schedule, punitive fees, and arrogant skating moms in positions of power whose sole purpose in life sometimes seemed to be to lord it over the "lesser" skaters by withholding information and being generally unpleasant.

What questions do you wish you had asked?


  1. I'm an adult skater, and things I didn't know until much later on: 1) What is involved in testing? (I wasn't aware that I had to pay my coach an additional fee for being there or that there were three tracks to test in - standard, adult and Masters) 2) If I compete, who is placed in my group? (It's by age) 3) How do I make it to Adult Nationals? (It's an open field by age class, with the exception of the Masters/Championship levels)

  2. I wish Id known how to prioritize budget that first year. I wish Id figured out that new music and dresses for every local ISI comp was a "fun" waste of money and that rolling those funds over into training and ice would have been a lot smarter. Not to say that the comps aren't an important part of the equation- just that they could have been done without spending so much $.

  3. These aren't all issues I've had but

    1. Why is my child not testing when all the girls she started before have overtaken her? There may be a perfectly valid reason which is fine, or there may be something I can do to help her, or it could be shennanigans

    2. When is practice ice? Nowhere on my rinks website is practice ice. There are occasional notices when it changes but not always and you have to know it e sits first.

    3. I can choose a coach myself. I got lucky and loved my first coach, but I had no say in it other than I could've stopped having her if I didn't like her.

    4. That the girls who fly through levels and are really good work really really really hard and fall on their butts over and over again to get that good.

  4. I want this on a T-shirt:

    "The girls who fly through levels and are really good work really really really hard and fall on their butts over and over again to get that good."

  5. I think my biggest thought is why don't coaches show skaters/parents what the next level looks like? For example, my skater can do the things required on the next test. But "doing them" and "doing them well" I have learned over the years looks REALLY different. I wish coaches would show and point out what judges are looking for and periodically review with videos the progress made. Some coaches do this, but started as a regular training tool from the beginning would be awesome. Because skating is never really "perfect", it can always be improved, but seeing the next level visually is rather informative.

  6. I can never understand why some parents today do not know something so trivial like what USFSA and ISI are, what tests are for, when to take them, or how to sign up for a competition... It's all on the web! I read answers to all these questions and much more as soon as my first daughter became interested in the sport, and continue to educate myself.

    It was different some years ago, so yours, Xan, is a different case. But now there is no reason to remain in the dark.

    Maria, mom of 2 skaters: pre-pre and FreeSkate 2

  7. Just like I can't understand why parents refuse to learn the names of basic elements. Even those moms that sit in the stands all the time, watching their kids skate. And then grandma comes, and mom asks her 8-year old:
    "Do that flip again that you showed me last week".
    The girl does a waltz jump.
    "No, the other flip, the one you learned recently."
    "Toe loop?"
    "You know I don't know what it's called!"
    The girl does a toe loop.
    "Oh, yes, that one! Look, grandma!"
    And this is from a family in which the kids have been skating for over 3 years! How hard is to learn the names of a few jumps and a few basic spins?


  8. Maria - actually it can be very difficult. Esp for parents who did not participate as athletes or in sports as children. It is actual a brain+vision+focus problem. It can improve, but it is something they have to really work at. I can't see or count rotations in a jump. But I can see it in slow motion. Her coaches can see and KNOW. I have the same problem watching a baseball game, football game, etc. I'm the lame one who asks "where's the ball?" Spins I can mostly do...I notice more the bigger change. I remember asking my daughter why a specific camel spin looked so slow and almost awkward. She said she did an inside camel. To me the rotation looked the same. Why was it slow? She had to show me what the ice looked like and how it was different. So now when I see a spin look slower than her normal spins I don't look at the arch and extension I check out her standing foot. I've been a parent at this for a long time. I'm just "slow". It's not lack of interest, it's just difficult for me. It's like learning a foreign language with my eyes. ~meg

  9. I agree, I skate and I can tell you the entry for all the jumps, even the ones I can't do yet, but watching I struggle. The kids at the rink I can tell because of the pattern, because I know what jumps they're working on so if it looks cautious and dodgy landing its usually one of their harder jumps. Watching on tv when they're going programs and gain marks for funny entries I have very little idea! I can only really tell edge jumps from toe jumps then!

    It doesn't bother me if parents don't know what their child is doing on the ice, as long as they know they don't have a clue and are comfortable with that. I prefer the "is an axel good?" Parents to the ones who coach from the stands by far!

  10. I'm not saying the parents should learn all (or any) technical details, or be able to count quick revolutions, but just know that the new jump their kid landed a couple of weeks ago is called "toe loop". And that new spin on the other foot is the "back spin". The child talks about it all the time! The parents plain refuse to learn any names. It's easy to learn the names if you just listen, instead of saying "oh, I don't know what that thing is called" all the time.


  11. I'm guilty of this. While I do absolutely know the names f all of the jumps it is impossible for me to tell them apart. I am trying though ;)

  12. But maybe their child doesn't talk about skating at home? My daughter LOVES skating, but she wants to talk about how it makes her feel, if a skate needs to be sharpened, and occasionally (if it made her laugh)her coach's comments. And honestly, I just watch her skate to watch her skate. I don't really think about what elements she is doing, it's just fun to sit and enjoy her joy. I know if I was tracking her progress, it would come out as trying to coach. It brings out an unattractive quality of me - my tiger momness. I don't want to get between my skater, her coach and the ice. I just want to cheer her on. And I do that better not knowing if she was on the correct edge on her lutz. ~meg

  13. Questions wish asked:

    Why didn't you talk us out of this? !!!!!

    Has there been any elite successful skater that didn't "love" skating? (b/c mine doesn't... treats it like "wax on, wax off"... but somehow places in every comp. go figure)

    lastly... Why didn't you talk us out of this!!!!!