Pre Season Prep-Two
Welcome to week 3 of pre-season prep! Now that you’ve decided what level you’re going to compete at next season and taken stock of where you are, it’s time to set up your support team. An invaluable part of this team is your coach- the CEO of your support team. He or she will delegate work to other coaches, help with costume and music choices, be in direct contact with the parents, and hopefully be a constant source of motivation and discipline.
A coach is different than a teacher. A coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operation of a team or an individual, whereas a teacher is an individual whose occupation is to teach. A combination of both teachers and a coach is necessary to the success of an athlete.
So how do you choose the all-important coach? There are many traits that make up an excellent coach, but if you had to ask me what the most important aspect is, I would say that, above all else, coach-skater fit is of the utmost importance. Ultimately the positive development of the child as a person and an athlete is the goal of participating in sports. In order for that to happen athletes need to surround themselves with the people that know them best and are able to best adapt their personality to success in the sport.
There are lots of coaches out there to choose from, but it is not always necessary to switch coaches at the start of a new season. Sometimes it is better to just stay where you are. A low placement is not always a sign that it’s time to change coaches. Neither are small mishaps that may have occurred during the season. Coaches are only human and small mistakes should be taken lightly. Several factors go into low placement like point value, skater ability, depth of the competition field, etc. A LOW PLACEMENT DOES NOT EQUAL BAD COACHING. What is important is that the athlete is making progress with the coach and enjoying the training process.
Ask the skater how they truly feel about the working relationship between themselves and the coach. They know better than others how it is working.
Choosing a new coach requires you to do some homework. Check with your local clubs to see who is on their staff. The most valuable thing you can do is watch the practice sessions. See if the coach is actively involved, are they connected with their students? Is the skater happy and eager to learn from this person? Was there improvement? Consider many coaches. A “name” coach that charges a lot is not always the best coach for you. Sometimes, a lesser known coach has more time and is willing to expend more effort in helping you attain your goals. Always check that the coach has the necessary credentials stated by US Figure Skating, so they can accompany you to test sessions and competitions. Take a couple of lessons before you make a final decision. Once you have made that decision, put your trust in the coach and keep the lines of communication open.