How to Pick a Coach

Hiring a Private Coach

There are many reasons why your family might want to hire a private coach: to excel at a faster pace than in group lessons, to supplement your group lessons with an occasional private one, to get assistance on a difficult skill or to begin competing more seriously. Whatever the reason, you can use this article to help you select a private coach.

Ask the skating director of your local program for a list or brochure of local coaching staff for the rink and figure skating club. Select two or three potential coaches from this list and set up face-to-face meetings. A meeting gives you a chance to ask important questions and to find out how you and your child interact on a personal level with the prospective coach. Things to consider when selecting a coach are personality, learning and teaching styles, experience and technical know-how.

A few questions we recommend asking include:

 How long have you been coaching?
 What are your greatest coaching accomplishments?
 What is your skating background? Do you specialize in coaching certain disciplines
(singles, pairs, ice dancing, synchronized skating)? What levels have you passed? Did
you skate competitively?
 Are you a member of U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association
 Are you PSA rated or ranked?
 How do you stay current with the sport and the profession of coaching?
 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?
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 are 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.

What Makes A Good Coach?

A good coach…

 Knows the sport – and kids. He or she must understand the physical development of boys and girls – what children are and are not capable of doing.
 Knows about differences in personality – what is right for one child is not necessarily
right for another.
 Understands each child’s motivation for skating. Some kids are very serious about
competing; others are there because a good friend is skating.
 Understands and can deal with differences in physical and emotional maturity, and
appreciates each child for her or his individuality.
 Is sensitive to children from various social, economic and racial backgrounds. The coach must give attention and instruction to all the skaters and make them feel a sense of accomplishment. A good coach has more than just winning in sight. Long-term goals of helping young people develop physically, psychologically, and socially should take precedence over winning.
 Is skilled at teaching the fundamentals of skating. Skill development is the major reason kids participate in sports – most want to improve their abilities. Improvement is the primary source of enjoyment for athletes.
 Teaches young athletes to enjoy success and respond to failure with new determination.
 Emphasizes improvement, competence and striving for excellence.
 Teaches and models behavior that reflects desirable basic values.