PRIVATE COACHING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Does my skater need a private coach?
Like most other Canadian figure skating clubs, the TMR Figure Skating Club offers group lessons at the CanSkate and STAR levels with coaching provided by the club. Once a skater is registered for private sessions, they will need to choose a coach to provide them with individual or semi-private instruction.
Private coaching will help speed progress by increasing focus on each skater’s individual goals and challenges, including the exciting experience of going to competitions or working through Skate Canada test levels. If your skater wants to try competing or testing, Skate Canada requires that you have a coach.
How do I choose a coach?
Anyone involved with the day-to-day operation or governance of a Skate Canada Club must remain impartial and cannot recommend a specific coach for you. Recommendations of one coach over another are considered unethical, and nobody is permitted to interfere with a coach-skater (or parent) relationship once established.
Nobody knows your skater’s personality and communication style better than you, so the choice is yours. Private coaches must be hired directly by you, and lesson fees, scheduling and so on are to be arranged directly with your coach. Private coaching fees are not included in skating session fees, and can not be paid through the club.
Your private coach should be someone the skater is comfortable with. Ask your skater for an opinion. If they have been with the TMRFSC throughout their skating development, they will have some familiarity with the teaching style of several coaches through group lessons, warm-ups and so on. You might want to observe the coaches on sessions other than your usual sessions, or you can ask other parents for their opinions. While you will not be able to listen in to lessons directly, watching the coaches from the stands might help to give you a feel for how each coach works.
Be careful that they are not just asking for a certain coach because their friends are with that coach! Personal fit is important. Your child will be spending time one-on-one with this person at least a couple times per week. There may be an individual that you connect with well, but can the same be said for your skater?
How many lessons a week do we need?
The number of private lessons per week will depend on the skater’s goals. Naturally, the more lessons a skater has the faster they will progress. However, remember that skaters also need to learn to work independently, so do not schedule so many lessons on each session that they do not have a chance to develop this skill. Semi-private lessons (lessons where skaters of similar ability share a private lesson) are a good option as long as they are supplemented by private lessons, so each skater gets a chance to work on his/her individual needs with the coach.
Discuss with the coach what your expectations are for your skater in terms of abilities and competitive advancement. The coach will be able to guide you as to what is an appropriate number based on the level of your skater and your budget.
Does this coach's teaching credentials meet the needs of my skater?
All Skate Canada professional coaches are accredited through the 3M National Coaching Certification Program to at least Level 1. This program trains coaches on proper technique, training regimes, and ethical issues related to coaching in general. All of our coaches have completed minimum Level 1 and several are Level 2 and higher. They are very qualified to teach skaters through the Skate Canada STAR Program and through many of the competitive levels as well. Please feel free to consult the coaching staff themselves or the Club Executive.
What is my budget?
Your budget will determine how many lessons per week you will purchase for your skater. Estimate how much you are willing to spend per week on lessons. These fees are paid directly to the coach, not to the club. The fees you pay to the club are for ice only. Lessons are usually 15-30 minutes in length (depending upon the attention span of the skater), although this is negotiable with the coach. The coach's fee may vary between coaches based on their coaching level, personal skating level, education and experience.
Is the coach available during the sessions that my skater chose?
Some of our coaches may be fully booked on some sessions. Some flexibility on both sides may be required to fit lessons in. Availability of a coach to meet your own schedule may ultimately determine which coach you select.
Team coaching is not uncommon and has many benefits. Some skaters learn one aspect of their skating from one coach and another from the second coach. Each coach can often complement the other well, and there are also specialized coaches for dance or choreography depending upon the skater’s path. Once you have found an individual that your skater likes and meets your financial and goal requirements, it’s a good idea to book them.
Now That You Have a Coach
Communication is key. Make sure that the arrangement you have set up continues to work for your skater, your coach and you. If you have any questions about your skater's progress or your lessons then speak with your coach. After all, you are paying them to work with your child. This is a business arrangement and must be treated as such. If things aren't working as well as you believe they should; you need to talk. Often simple things can be ironed out and are the result of a misunderstanding.
What To Do When Things Don't Go As Planned
For the most part, coaching relationships are uneventful: your skater enjoys their lessons and there are no issues. But, not all relationships end up how they started. What do you do when a coaching relationship is not working? First, ask yourself the following: Is this relationship not working because the parents and coach are not in agreement or because the skater is unhappy? If a skater has been with a particular coach for several years a fairly strong bond may have been established. If they are happy with the coach, then for the sake of the skater remaining happy (this is why we are in this sport, right?) then try to come to an understanding with the coach and do not involve your skater.
If your skater is unhappy, this is a different situation. First, identify if the issue is solely related to the coach or with the skater. Every skater goes through "slumps" during their skating. Often this is related to growth spurts or may be injury related. Keeping motivation and enjoyment high can be really challenging. Speak with your skater to help them determine if they are definitely having issues with their coach or if it is primarily related to their own personal development. In either case, the parent should speak with the coach regarding the situation. If after several conversations or meetings, things are not working between the skater and coach, it may be time to consider switching coaches.
Switching coaches can be a big decision and should not be taken lightly. If there is a definite conflict in personalities or the coaching arrangement, then the decision to change may not be a difficult decision to make. However, especially in the competitive stream, sometimes skaters and parents are quick to look to other coaching options when the skater is not achieving the results they believe they should. It is in this situation that skater and parents need to take a step back and clearly analyze the situation. Are the expectations of the skater and parent realistic? Be honest here.
When looking back over a skating season or a year, has the skater continued to improve and develop? Are you basing your decision on a single performance that lasted less than five minutes? Are you basing your decision on the progress of other skaters knowing that everyone develops and matures at different times and paces? Are you still on track towards your original goal? If the overall assessment indicates that progress is not being made, your skater is unhappy (and they want to continue skating, not you) then a coaching change could be in order.
If the decision is made to change coaches, as a parent you have the following obligations:
- Inform the coach that you will be making a change.
- Ensure that all outstanding debts are paid.
- Inform any new coach that all matters have been settled with the former coach.