The following information has been adapted for the Club’s members and prospective members from previously published essays by U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association (PSA).
Choosing the Best Coach for You or Your Child
There are many reasons to consider hiring a private coach: To excel at a faster pace than in group lessons, to supplement your group lessons with an occasional private one for more focused attention, to obtain assistance developing a difficult skill, to increase your commitment to skating, or to pursue a competitive path. Whatever the reason, this document provides information for your consideration in choosing the best coach for you or your child from the professional staffs at the rinks affiliated with Triangle FSC of NC.
All of the rinks affiliated with Triangle FSC of NC strive to offer skaters a variety of coaching professionals, each of which may offer a different skill, area of expertise or focus. As a result, finding the best coach for your needs will be a highly individual decision. As a starting point for your evaluation, we recommend you review the list of coaches at the rink where you or your child will be skating, and read the personal information provided for each coach. (Please note that this information has been provided by the coach and not the Club, and is intended to be a starting point for learning more about each coach. The Club does not employ any private lesson coaches on behalf of its members, nor does it make professional recommendations as to which coach may be best for any member. It is up to each member to choose their own coach, as well as make arrangements for their services.)
After reviewing the coaching staff’s profiles you may also want to ask other members who they employ as a coach, if they are satisfied with their services, and if not, why. Keep in mind however, that not every coach is the right fit for every student: What works for one family may not be the best fit for you – either long-term, or for your skater’s immediate development.
After your initial review and research, we suggest selecting two or three potential coaches from the rink's list of professional staff to check their availability for new students, and if available, to set up an in-person meeting. (Contact information is provided for each coach.) An in-person meeting will give you a chance to ask important questions, and to find out how you and your child interact on a personal level with each prospective coach.
Some things to consider when selecting the right coach are personality, learning and teaching styles, experience and technical know-how.
Some of the questions the Club recommends asking prospective coaches include:
- What is your coaching philosophy?
- What do you believe are the responsibilities of a good skating coach?
- How long have you been coaching?
- What are your greatest coaching accomplishments?
- What is your skating background?
- Do you specialize in coaching certain disciplines (e.g. singles, pairs, ice dancing, synchronized skating)?
- What levels have you passed?
- Did you skate competitively?
- Are you rated or ranked by the Professional Skaters Association (PSA)? If not, why?
- How do you stay current with the sport and the profession of coaching?
- How often do you meet with the parents of your students?
- How do you manage conflict with your students and/or your parents?
- Do you offer individual goal setting and annual development plans for your students?
- How much input may I have in how you coach my child?
- Do you recommend multiple [specialty] coaches for your students? If so, why?
- How many lessons per week do you recommend for my child, and why?
- What are your rates for lessons, competitions, cutting program music, etc.?
- How often do you bill for charges? When do you expect to be paid?
- What is your policy if we have to cancel a planned lesson?
- Are there any other policies that we should be aware of in advance?
Take Your Time
If selecting a coach for your child, keep in mind that even if your child only skates a few days a week, your skater’s coach will have a significant influence on his or her life. Therefore, it is important that you and your child be comfortable with the person you choose. Take as much time and talk to as many people as necessary until you are satisfied that you are making a good choice. If a coach is too busy or not interested in answering all of your questions now, they will be even less likely to have more time for you once hired.
As a follow up, after you have selected a coach and they have begun working with your family, you should observe some of their lessons with your child. It is important to make sure that the coach/skater relationship you have invested in is what you want it to be. If after observing a few sessions you have questions or concerns, set up a meeting with the coach. Never interrupt the lesson. A respectful and open dialogue will likely prevent problems down the road. If you have a situation that you feel warrants third-party attention, take it privately to rink management and allow them to handle it appropriately.
Once you are working with a private coach, you may reach a point in which your coaching relationship may no longer be working out for whatever reason, and you may conclude that a change is necessary. Should this happen, please talk to your coach about your interest in making a change. They should understand your reasons and support you in your decision. You must of course make sure all your financial commitments have been met before making a change in coaches, or ask that the coach arrange a payment plan for you. If you believe the coach is unreasonable in their response or uncooperative with your decision, please advise rink management. Most rink coaches are independent contractors and not employees, but they are still expected to be reasonable professionals as a member of the rink’s staff. Please keep in mind too that there are always differences in understandings when there are differences in opinions and conclusions. Skating is a small community, and our Club is an even smaller community. We ask that you please address any issues directly with the parties involved, and avoid openly disparaging any of the rink's professionals, whose business depends on their reputations.
As a final note, when scheduling lessons with your coach, keep in mind that having a scheduled lesson does not guarantee, or give priority, for getting on a particular ice session. That is determined solely by established rink and Club rules for contracting or walking on ice sessions, including test level, and seniority. If you have any questions about Club ice, please contact the Club leadership.