Choosing a coach is an extremely difficult process and there are many things to take under consideration. In the previous post we talked about personality, strengths, and credentials but there is much more to consider when choosing a coach. We also need to think about finances, availability, and standards.
In most places figure skating coaches choose their own rates. Usually the higher the credentials of a coach the more they charge. Quality over quantity is important to keep in mind when choosing a coach based on their rate. I have known many people who choose a low level coach with a low rate over a high level coach with a more expensive rate because they will be able to afford a longer lesson time. In their minds a longer lesson equals more improvement. More often than not, a student will learn more in a shorter lesson with a high level coach than in a long lesson with a low level coach. The money can even be wasted when spent on the lower level coach because they can only progress so much with how they are taught.
All coaches bill differently but the majority of coaches bill on a monthly basis. DO NOT PREPAY COACHES! There are exceptions to prepaying, but unfortunately there are greedy and sneaky coaches who ask advances that can end up being weeks and even months out. Those lessons never end up happening and the money is lost.
Every coach has a different schedule and a different life outside of skating. Some coaches live and breathe for skating and are at every competition, test session, and available practice. Other coaches have families or other jobs and are not as available as other coaches. Before choosing a coach, ask their availability not only for lessons but for weekend events. This reason is not a make or break situation for choosing a coach but it is good to know in advance and be aware if the coach is always around or not. It is better to ask and to know what to expect than to find out later on and be upset the coach is not able to attend certain events.
All coaches have a different style of coaching and with their different styles comes their level of standard. Some coaches may let things slide such as posture, toe pointing, or wearing a hooded sweatshirt to practice. Some coaches can be very strict with how you are dressed during a practice session. Their level of standards on how you look when you come to the rink often resemble their coaching styles. Competitive coaches are stricter on their standards than a recreational coach who doesn’t care if you wear jeans a hoodie to practice.
Coaches standards are not only with attire but with how the skater skates. You can usually tell their standard by the majority of the coaches students and how polished their presence is on the ice. Toe pointing, extension, posture, and flow are all things that need to be reminded to the skaters constantly. Coaches with a lower standard don’t care about this and don’t emphasize it enough for the skater to make the correction.
Competitions and testing are another good indicator. Some coaches make sure that their students are extremely prepared for the test or competitions where as other coaches have the approach, “we will see what happens.” Neither approach is wrong. It is a matter of personal preference what works with the skaters personality and what you are hoping to achieve from the event.
The list could go on and on about how to choose a coach. Some reasons you can find out before hand and some things you may not realize until after you have had a few lessons with the coach. If you start out with one coach and it isn’t working don’t feel like you have to stay with that coach. Try another coach until you are happy with the work relationship. Your coach needs to fit well into your life. If they do, then you have found your coach.