Coaches w/ Difficult Parents
Any coaches out there with some advice for dealing with difficult parents?
I have a promising skater whose parents have been told about off-ice opportunities and the need for off-ice training repeatedly - but continue to ignore it (even went to a trainer finally for a program but didn't follow through because the mother thought it was too hard). As my other skaters got better due to partiicpation in off-ice programs I directed them to, these parents finally clued in --and said they don't recall the emails, hand-outs etc that I gave them -- and that I have to TELL them that what I am saying is IMPORTANT or else they won't follow through!!!!! When I give advice, based on my years of education, training and experience - I don't make it up out of thin air - these parents stare off into space and nod in agreement - but nothing seems to stick. These are both well-educated parents with an only child.....whom they coddle......
The parents are basically drop and drive now - but the mother continues to tell the skater what needs to be improved, and then the skater comes in and tells me 'my mother said'.....mother has no background in the sport but seems to be able to offer destructive suggestions.
NOW - they want me to email them every time I tell their skater something in a lesson (the kid is 12 years old)...because the skater never passes on the infomation. Like I have time to email after every session....I have 7year old skaters who convey messages to their parents!!! We're not talking about earth-shattering messages - just common sense things that coaches say to all there students. This skater is the only one that does this - and these are the only parents that I have ever had this problem with.
FYI- when I do a new program, the mother expects a list of every step and a map of the choreography .........really unreasonable things like that, that she doesn't pay for.......Like Lori Nicol or David Wilson do that. I have never had a chart or map done etc. for any programs I paid $1,000's for...
End of rant -- Any suggestions? The kid has potential, but not if the parents don't get with the program.
Well, I'm no coach. I'm an adult skater, so I defer to the expertise of the coaches here to answer you specifically. However, since a new year approaches, something that one of my coaches does (and I think is extremely wise for all involved) is she writes out a new contract for the year. She states her rates for the season for both regular lessons, tests and competitions, basic availability, and most importantly, a list of her standards and requirements of both students and parents. Perhaps you can draw up a similar document that outlines your general thoughts on ethics, participation, expectations, etc but also lists your recommendations for off-ice opportunities. At least then you have one handout you give to them (and everyone else) at the beginning of the year that explains your expectations and then they can't come back and claim they were never informed.
That sounds like good advice...however, at our club the year begins in September until June, with summer school as a separate entity....which is usually when I hand out lesson confirmations and pay increases.
Also - none of the coaches in our region do parent-coach contracts, and our club in particular does not have a coach-club contract either....
Adult skaters are much more matter-of-fact about their skating lessons. They listen intently to advice regarding off-ice training, and suggestions- pay their bills (for the most part) immediately and really listen to every word a coach says, even if their body won't obey - at least their minds do!!!!
But you have given me food for thought.......If I hand out a document at the beginning of the year, to everyone - the one family is not targeted.....However, unless I TELL them it is IMPORTANT - they won't read it anyway lol ! And those who do follow protocol, will think I am referring to them.. Ah well...lol
Last edited by redhotcoach; 11-27-2007 at 03:30 PM.
you can't push rope.
First of all, are you certain that his/her missing these opportunities is not financially based - i.e they can't afford it? People can be funny when talking about money and maybe they're not comfortable saying "we can't afford it". Or, maybe they don't want to pay the additional cost...even if they can.
I agree that the parents are flaking out and really, its the kid that's suffering. Do you sense that the skaters wants to skate? I'm just asking b/c I've seen parents like this who push their kid to skate when they really don't want to.
Perhaps you can have a little sit-down with your student and explain that she's old enough now for her to take part in the learning/teaching process. Explain to her why you make certain corrections and explain that it's important to let her parents know how a lesson went, what was discussed and what corrections need to be made. Without relaying this knowledge onto his/her parents, she's loosing the opportunity to improve her skills. Perhaps this reasoning will encourage her to play a more mature role in her skating.
Or, you could write a letter to her parents, pin it to her and send her to the sidewalk to catch her ride. LOL.
In reality, sounds like you need to have a adult conversation with the parents and if your able and willing, frame the conversation in such a way that reaffirms his/her skill level and possible success and explain that in order for her to move forward, you need for the parents to be more involved.
Thanks, dwiggin! I love the idea of 'pinning the letter' to the poor child. I should try that next time with my invoice!!!
I have had many long, sit down conversations with the parents and extended telephone conversations - don't think the parents actually communicate with each other! Father tells me money is not an issue and that I should not be making decisions based on that. I am very aware of how much the sport costs and do try to find the least expensive way of accomplishing things, if possible.
Felt like saying to him at that point, that I will be sending him a bill for all my expenses at competitions, not just some of them!!!
Skater does want to skate....bit lazy and inattentive at times, but generally works well. I've tried explaining how important off-ice is, and that if the skater did push-ups or squats or situps, or ball every day etc....how much better landing positions would be etc. Parents will start sending the child to the club off-ice classes and then say no more, because the instructor was a) too hard, b) not doing it properly (well-certified instructors btw) or my favorite c) made the poor child too stiff and exercise shouldn't make you stiff Forgot d) stretching shouldn't hurt the next day....
So - from the advice I am getting - at least I know I am not crazy. These guys would be trying for any other coach as well!! Thanks for the advice!
Sounds like you've got Mira Leung #2! Why not just drop her if her parent's are giving you that much grief?
Originally Posted by redhotcoach
Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program
maybe the parents can't afford off-ice lessons in addition to a coach and competition fees, new boots, shapening ice time etc.
The father assured me that money is not an issue. It's more like laziness or apathy is the main problem. The skater has told me that the parents don't want to hang around waiting for off-ice classes, or skate on the weekends because it breaks up their day..........What's worse, is that there are great facilities on the same block as the rink that offer conditioning, trampoline, yoga, pilates (in addition to the stuff offered at the club for very reasonable cost).
Originally Posted by Tinymavy15
There seems to be a whole new generation of parents out there from the Gen-X and beyond generation - that were spoon fed everything by their boomer parents and the school system never allowed them to fail if they didn't work hard.....or my favorite -- the manditory huge soccer trophies for the team that finished last -- so that everyone would feel good about themselves. These kids are now parents - and expect to be handed everything on a silver platter for their own kids without having to go out of their way to 'work' at being a responsible parent. They miss almost every learn-to-skate class, but expect their children to get the badge and be moved up to the next level - even tho the poor kid can't skate......you know the ones I mean.........(not all btw are so poorly motivated - and those are a blessing!)
Anyone else notice this trend???????
All I have to say is that parents' support is crucial for a kid's success, but how that support comes is equally important. I think parents who want so much for their kid to become a champion may inadvertantly hold them back by making poor decisions for the kid. Mira Leung is a classic example of this. It was only until she listened to the advice of the coach this year that she began to make drastic improvements in all aspects of her skating. I hope that parents are not using Mira as a good example of how to train. She is, in fact, poorly trained. Parents need to put their trust in the expert: the coach.
Nobody asked this question yet. But does the parents intend the skater to be a competitive? Or do they just want her to learn some trick and pass a few tests?
Maybe they're not taking this seriously, because they don't consider skating important enough. I don't think that is something they would admit to a skating coach. They probably don't consider her Olympic bound, but she's having fun, so they let her continue to take lessons, and compete. But they're not going to spend additional time and money on it. I'm guessing that's part the issue, and they just not honest or forward enough to just outright tell you that.
Another thing to consider is that people lie about money all the time. Maybe they really don't have the money for the extra classes, and they just don't want to admit it to you.
The skater is already competitive - actually Jr Nationals level!!! The parents are extremely goal oriented and child says the mother is a perfectionist.....had trouble with the poor kid not medalling at the first competition (skater was okay with it - landed the axel yeah!) It's taken years to train the parents that failure is a good thing in our sport, and a life-skill.
Even when the excited little tyke qualified for Jr Nationals, the mother found fault in the performance..
Skating is good for this child's ego and self-esteem....
Last edited by redhotcoach; 11-28-2007 at 10:58 PM.
Originally Posted by redhotcoach
Okay, this really sounds like Mira Leung. I know it isn't, but I'm getting a really strong feeling this kid is from an Asian background. Asian parents can be so demanding and have HUGE expectations out of their kids. It's definitely a cultural thing. You get 90% on a test and they say, "What happened to the 10%? Not good enough!". Sorry, rant.
Rant away, passion!!! It's always comforting to hear about other coaches with issues too. After jr nationals, things might change......from my part!
We've all had to deal with those pushy parents from all ethnic groups. At least the asian parents I have dealt with provide their children with enough ice time and often over-lesson them -- rather than the one-day/one-lesson a week skater whose parent used to skate and now wants the poor child to pass as many tests every test day as possible, regardless of their lack of ability....you know the skater that stands at the boards bored silly unless in a lesson, even though they have the dance patterns and freeskate element list -- and somehow you are at fault if Susie doesn't pass all her gold dances in a year (lucky if Susie can remember the Dutch Waltz! lol)
Too bad this forum doesn't have a coaches thread. We could rant all we want without taking up space from skaters!!!
You could always start a coaches rant thread!
Originally Posted by redhotcoach