The objective of every coach should be to achieve results for his/her students, now results is a fairly vague term so I will be a little bit more specific, results can be an improvement in skills, generally this can be measured by tests passed and competition placing, results can also be seen in the skaters enjoyment of the sport, without enjoyment in the sport there can be no long term improvement in skills, so enjoyment in the sport is equally or more important improvement in skills.
Children enjoy the sport if their skills improve quickly, this enjoyment then feeds back into faster skills improvement, they also enjoy a sense of achievement when they progress through levels/tests and do well in competition.
If the student of a coach has a love and enjoyment of the sport then that coach's job is half done.
The most important phase of a skaters career is learning the basics. Bad habits learned early can take weeks, months or years to fix, that is why it is important to chose a qualified and experienced coach from the start of your skating career.
My competitive skating philosophy
Competitive skating is all about competing against yourself, for example; to do your personal best, to land that new jump, to get that technical score, to get those levels in your spins, to skate a clean program. If you can set goals for a competition and achieve them; then you are a winner! If your performance is judged technically and/or artistically better than the other skaters in your group/division, then you may find yourself on the podium.
So don't go in a competition to beat another skater, don't drive 10 hours to go in a competition when there is an approximately equal competition local, unless you need a higher level of competition to motivate you.
Don't complain when someone else places higher on the podium than you, congratulate them, remember good sportsmanship.
For parents considering skating lessons for their kids
If you just want the kids to learn to skate, many ice rinks and skating clubs run skate school/learn to skate classes a number of times during the week during school terms at affordable rates, please contact your local ice rink or skating club and enquire about skate school classes.
There are also public sessions where you can take the kids and they can skate and learn at their own pace.
Why private lessons
Figure skating is a highly technical sport, figure skating is just about always coached in private lessons, a private lesson is a one on one lesson, i.e., one coach and one student at a time, 30 minute lessons are the most popular.
Let's make a simple analogy between private figure skating lessons and taking the kids to general sessions to skate, imagine you wanted to get fit, so you decided to go to the gym 3 times a week, you pay your membership and hit the gym, a couple of weeks later your interest wanes and you miss that week, go once in the week after and after 3 months have only visited the gym 3 times and are no better off. So this time you decide to get serious and hire a personal trainer, the trainer designs a training program for you that is tailored to your requirements, arranges to meet you there at a pre arranged/booked time 3 times a week, the trainer pushes you hard, you get enthusiastic and enjoy the sessions, after only 6 weeks you have lost 4 inches off your waste and your kids remark on how fit and great you look.
Now private lessons with a qualified figure skating coach can be very much like having a personal trainer.
Why chose a qualified figure skating coach?
Figure skating is one of the most technical of sports, a coach must be up to date with the latest coaching techniques, this means attending coaching courses and seminars on a regular basis.
In Australia coaches should have a level 1 or higher accreditation with the APSA and the Australian Sports commission.
In Canada coaches should have a level 1 certification in order to coach above CanSkate level 7 / preliminary test level.
For information that may help you choose a coach, click here.
Team coaching, what is it? click here.
The different types of skating
Freeskating - jumps and spins, spirals and footwork, see this example videos/MelodieBP2010.wmv
Ice dance - like ballroom dancing on ice, there are no jumps or solo spins in ice dance, for an example click here, uses Youtube.
Pair skating - this is freestyle but done with a pair of skaters, it includes jumps, spins, lifts above the head and throw jumps. This is not to be confused with ice dance which has no jumps or solo spins.
Synchronized skating - this is a team sport, good skating skills and timing is required, there are no jumps and generally no spins in this sport. Example :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJbPyG6IzJU
Ice hockey - this is a team sport with 6 skaters on each team, a puck is hit with sticks and there is a goal, there are no jumps or spins in hockey.
Speed skating - this is an individual sport, the first skater across the line is the winner, it is fast and dangerous, there are no jumps or spins in speed skating.
So when it comes to teaching an axel jump, what type of coach is best?
Would you ask a hockey coach to teach your child an axel jump?
Would you ask an Ice dance coach to teach your child an axel jump?
The following sections are for parents and skaters newly entering in the sport at the skate school level
Getting the most out of your child's involvement in competition
As parents we want our child to succeed, we want them to do well in competition, but sometimes we can unwittingly sabotage their chances.
The right attitude is everything, this may require re-educating family members.
Click here for notes on how to prepare your child mentally for competition
What to expect at a skate school competition, click here.
How often to skate in the 1st year - once a week, twice a week, three times a week?, click here.
Other tips for parents - skate care etc.
Coaches are not allowed to approach you to offer you lessons if you already have a coach!
This is when a coach approaches the parents of another coaches student and offers them lessons or entices them to change coach, in some cases this coach may criticize your coach. If this occurs to you it is a breach of the coaches code of conduct, you should inform the approaching coach that you already have a coach and if they persist record details such as what was said and when, then give this to your coach and/or the rink manager. For more details on what constitutes solicitation click here, this is from the PSA USA web site.
Other forms of solicitation include a coach approaching you and offering to team coach your child, often they will say such things as your son/daughter is talented and needs a coach of his/her caliber, perhaps not in those words, but they may go on about their skating achievements. This form of solicitation is also a violation of the coaches code of conduct in most countries.
Solicitation is a serious offense, solicitation destroys skaters careers, coaches careers and clubs!
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This site was last updated 07/09/13