Finding a Coach Part 1

Figure Skating Coaching Blog PostStarting out in skating can be incredibly confusing.  How much should you be on the ice, how many competitions to compete in, group lessons or private lessons?  One of the biggest and most crucial questions is how to find a coach.  There are hundreds of coaches out there and although most clubs only have a few to choose from, you have to find the right coach for you.    If you are skating for fun, if you want to be competitive, if you want to join a professional ice show, or if you want to become a coach knowing which direction you would like to take in skating will help narrow down your search for a coach.
Strength
If you want to be competitive look for a coach who has trained to compete or has competed at a national or international level.  These coaches will have more knowledge than a coach who had never competed.  If you want to join an ice show, look for a coach who has performed in ice shows.  If you want to become a coach, shadow multiple different coaches.  Most coaches have a preference of what they feel comfortable coaching.  If you can find a rink that team coaches, you are in luck and should take advantage of this situation.  Many coaches are not willing to team coach because they are insecure about their coaching abilities and don’t want their students to work with anyone else.  Coaches who don’t want their students going to camps are often worried that if their students work with other coaches and make progress that those students will realize that the coach they have is not coaching them correctly or in a way that they will understand.  I believe that great coaches allow their students to work with other reputable coaches and should encourage them to attend to skating camps.  Many coaches are saying the same thing to a skater but every coaches words it differently.  One way of saying it may resonate more with the skater which is why working with different coaches can be so beneficial.
Credentials
Its hard to believe but qualified coaches are hard to come by.  It is sad and although there are many nice coaches and a lot that may look good on paper; I have seen multiple coaches who lie about their credentials and extremely exaggerate in order to make themselves look more qualified.  The levels they have passed themselves is a secure guideline to how good of a skater they are/were and their knowledge of jumps, spins, dance, etc.  There are amazing coaches who have not passed tests but are still more than capable of coaching higher levels; however, these coaches tend to have more experience in other areas not on the ice.  They are committed coaches and have usually gone to camps, clinics, studied hours of videos, shadowed other coaches and have gone to seminars.  Ask the coaches about their other experience, who they trained with, what coaches they have worked with etc.  Many coaches in smaller cities have only worked with 1 coach their entire life and although they are confident they may not be very qualified.  If they have skated in a show with a famous skater, ask them details about the show.  I have seen resumes where coaches say they skated in a show with a famous skater.  In reality they did skate in a show with them, but it was a club show or a show where they didn’t need to try out and then they only skated in a group finale number.  It is awesome experience yes, but stating it as they skated in a show with a famous skater can be misleading.  Ask questions and get details.  If the coaches are reputable, they will be more than happy to share details.
Personality
A coach can have a huge impact in a students life due to the amount of time they spend together.  It is important to find a coach who is a role model and has a good attitude.  Take deep consideration if you are working with a coach or are thinking about choosing a coach who yells, make their students cry, or show signs of anger.  Do you really want to skate or have your child skate with someone who yells and is angry?  There is a difference between being tough on a skater and being down right mean to a skater.  Coaches can be tough on the skater in a calm way.  There is no reason to hit the boards or yell so much at the skater they cry.  The coaches personalities can rub off on the skater.  If the coach is stressed the skater may get stressed.  If the coach is calm, the skater tends to be more calm.  Would you rather be stressed or calm before competitions or test sessions?
Some personalities don’t mix, period.  There are some people who just get a long better than others and it is the same when finding a coach.  If you have a coach or are looking into a coach that you don’t get along with you should probably look for someone else.  Even if they are a great coach, how much are you going to respect or listen to them if you don’t like them?
There are countless things to take into consideration when trying to find a coach and these are just a few.  It is a big decision trying to find a coach, and although the options may not be bountiful it is still important to weigh the options.
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