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Thread: Coaches: how can you tell.....

  1. #1
    Rinkside
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    Coaches: how can you tell.....

    My daughter LOVES to skate and we are fully supportive of her passion to be on the ice. It appears to us that she is moving very quickly in acquiring new skills and her coach tells us she is extremely "coachable". She has time and again set very big goals for herself and worked diligently to achieve them (although not always quite reaching them). I was a strong figure skater as a child but was clearly "slower"

    In a world with unlimited funds.... I would say if she loves it, let her go! However, we can now see that although she is still a beginner (Freestyle 3), at 7 years old, this passion could be a really major investment for the family. To be blunt and honest, I am totally willing to make that investment (and move mountains for it if needed!) especially if she has the potential to be successful at it. If she does not, we would be better parents to refocus her (and our pennies!) in a different direction.

    How do you know when you have a promising skater on your hands? Is there a body type, personality type, a certain maneuver that tells the tale or a combination of things? At what stage do you take the plunge and really start to invest? Obviously it is really early to know such things but any help would be appreciated...

    I feel deep down that she does have a shot if for nothing more than her determination but I also want to be balanced and smart about this. The problem is I also know that NOW may be the time to start taking this seriously....

    thanks for any insights you might have....

  2. #2
    Custom Title LeCygne's Avatar
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    It sounds like it's still pretty early. I wouldn't be able to tell you how to recognize a promising skater or anything, but I think this can apply to anything in life. If your daughter seems talented, that's great. Encourage her to work hard to be the best she can, and allow her to have any opportunities that arise.

    Give her everything you can (within reason) to nurture her talent, but always make sure she loves what she's doing and is having fun. She should never feel forced to do something because Mom and Dad are spending tons of money on it. If she's only 7 at this point, it's probably not a good idea to set things in stone, like "this is what we're going to pursue."

    Because really, it doesn't have to be either, or. Just take it day by day and see how things go. As long as she's enjoying it, let her keep skating but also encourage other hobbies and let her have a "normal life." Time will tell. Maybe she'll make her own decision when she's older.

    I hope this helped! I've been in a similar situation...

  3. #3
    Rinkside
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    Good advice! It is hard to know what is best....

    thanks for the reality check. There has been a lot of "advice" from casual observers at our arena.... I try to take it all with a grain of salt but can't help feeling that I don't know what the right answers are... Should I be doing MORE, LESS - or something different....??
    She has no idea what is spent on skating, even now. At 7 she cannot process what it all means and I don't want her focused on that...

    thanks again



    Quote Originally Posted by LeCygne View Post
    It sounds like it's still pretty early. I wouldn't be able to tell you how to recognize a promising skater or anything, but I think this can apply to anything in life. If your daughter seems talented, that's great. Encourage her to work hard to be the best she can, and allow her to have any opportunities that arise.

    Give her everything you can (within reason) to nurture her talent, but always make sure she loves what she's doing and is having fun. She should never feel forced to do something because Mom and Dad are spending tons of money on it. If she's only 7 at this point, it's probably not a good idea to set things in stone, like "this is what we're going to pursue."

    Because really, it doesn't have to be either, or. Just take it day by day and see how things go. As long as she's enjoying it, let her keep skating but also encourage other hobbies and let her have a "normal life." Time will tell. Maybe she'll make her own decision when she's older.

    I hope this helped! I've been in a similar situation...

  4. #4
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    If your daughter loves to skate let her. If you are giving her private lessons then make sure it is with a good coach that will give her the basics of skating. Look around at your rink and see who the good skaters are and look at thier coach. Dont waste your money on coaches who don't know what they are doing.

    Look at yourself. What is your body type. If you are tall and really curvy than your daughter will probably follow suit. Think Michelle or Sasha as having really good body types. Of course there are always exceptions, but hips and breasts do get in the way...

    Some kids have a natural glide as soon as they get on the ice. Some kids have a natural center which is obvious when they jump. You will see it if it is there. Just get that good coach and things will fall into place.

    Good luck and enjoy! My daughter only wanted to get off the ice and drink hot chocolate. She eventually became an accomplished Artistic and then Rhythmic gymnast. She now is a ballet dancer. She always had top shelf coaches

  5. #5
    Medalist penguin girl's Avatar
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    I totally understand what you're going through. I also have a young child who loves it and shows a lot of promise. We are doing private lessons as well as group lessons but I try to guage whether my son is enjoying it before increasing anything. My first priority is that he is enjoying it, which he is. His coach is excellent and doesn't push him beyond enjoyment, and takes everything at his pace. Make sure to find a coach that fits your daughter's personality and that doesn't start scheduling more and more ice and lessons than you think is right. Listen to your child and your inner voice.

  6. #6
    Tripping on the Podium
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    SK8TEMOM, always value every moment and decision you make for your child, as you can never rewind time. Mainly, trust your child and trust your maternal instincts. You're her mom for a reason, and she's your daughter for a reason. Always remember that your child is not the other skaters, so don't mind or fret of comparing/directing her direction towards other skaters. She is meant to be who she is and not the likeness of the others. Your maternal instincts now are very sensitive because she is undergoing changes and you have to back her up for what she wants. Things will fall into place, she'll be in the circumvent of where it is best for her, without you knowing it. Trust your insticts and hers, open your hearts and for whatever limited resources you have, to your surprise, you'll be able to go through all hurdles. Be careful not to be negative about what you're going through. Good luck SK8TEMOM, and she's lucky to have you to support her.

  7. #7
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    All we can tell at that age is if a child has some natural feel for the balance, movement, and timing that's required to learn skating skills. Some naturally have more than others. Some also have more ability to focus and therefore learn faster/practice on their own.

    As they get older, and you start getting into testing/competing, more difficult skills, etc, then you start to get a better picture of if they truly have some exceptional talent.

    However, it's not always the most talented ones that have the most success--determination and persistence play a HUGE role in this sport where repetition and a willingness to fail over and over again before you get a new skill are the name of the game.

    And, as someone else mentioned, there is a person's build, which you can't do anything about. A lot of kids are jumping beans until they hit puberty, and then they lose their jumps and may or may not get them back. There's a very real reason why many of our elite skaters are of Asian descent, where the typical body isn't curvy & is relatively short.

    We're also assuming a consistently healthy skating career with no injury. I know a teenage skater who showed every indication of being a champion, had double axel at age 8, etc. She got sidelined with an injury for 2 seasons, and never quite made it back on track.

    I don't want to discourage you or your skater--by all means, give her every opportunity to pursue the sport--to the degree that you can afford it, and to the degree that she wants to do it. Then it's up to her to see how far she goes.

    By all means, at this stage, do NOT mortgage the house, take her out of school, move across the country for a big name coach, etc. (yes, I've seen all these things happen). In other words, don't do anything drastic that will disrupt your lives or have lasting repercussions if she suddenly decides, 6 months from now, that she'd rather play tennis.

    Take it season by season, work with your coach to map out a plan for the coming 6 months to 1 year, and plan out your budget to work to attain those goals.

  8. #8
    Rinkside
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    Thanks for all the thoughtful replies

    I appreciate all the experienced insight that all of you have shared with me.... You have given me food for thought and I was able to actually have this conversation... I have no resources for this type of conversations within our skating community (as a matter of fact, I have realized that there is some jealousy among the MOMS toward my daughter - not the kids....I don't feel comfortable asking any of the other moms these types of questions!)

    I have no idea whether my daughter will continue to thrive in this sport that she so loves (and furthermore, what form that might take....). It is an honor and a challenge to parent a child that shows such determination to achieve a goal (and all the while having no idea whether she will have even a shot at achieving it....!)

    She is a special kid and I am just really hoping not to mess it up.....

    We are currently skating at an ISI school and I have had no shortage of individuals tell me that I MUST switch her to USFSA..... My feeling at the moment is she has an extremely nuturing, technical coach who believes in her goals. I would like to shelter her from the pressures of the USFSA testing stream and competition environment until she is a little older (say 10?).

    AM I naive to think that the choice really should be who the coach is , not what league you are in???

  9. #9
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8temom View Post
    We are currently skating at an ISI school and I have had no shortage of individuals tell me that I MUST switch her to USFSA..... My feeling at the moment is she has an extremely nuturing, technical coach who believes in her goals. I would like to shelter her from the pressures of the USFSA testing stream and competition environment until she is a little older (say 10?).

    AM I naive to think that the choice really should be who the coach is , not what league you are in???
    She's young. ISI will not hurt her at this point and may actually continue to nurture her love of the sport as opposed to kill it. Make sure the coach mixes in a healthy dose of US Figure Skating moves in the field patterns. I would consider having her learn these as she progresses with other elements to get that monkey off her back and then move her over to compete once she has an Axel (typical for skaters in my area).

  10. #10
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    ISI vs. USFS

    As long as they keep her up with where she would be in the USFS test stream....and yes, it's a good idea to make sure she's learning the Moves in the Field patterns (which is a series of footwork patterns)....otherwise when the time comes to switch she could get held up for quite awhile getting through those tests.

    *In the USFS test stream, you must pass the Moves in the Field test in any given level before you may take the Freeskate test for that level. And it is the Freeskate test that determines what level you compete at.

    You can have her test USFS & still compete ISI, another possibility. That way she's ready to go when the time comes.

  11. #11
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    I am not that familiar with ISI, but I think it is more recreational. You daughter sounds like she is really interested, so I would definitely get her into the USFSA track. Testing MIF will help her . Hopefully your coach will let you know if your daughter is talented and should move forward.

    Just my opinion, but 10 is a bit late these days to get serious.

    Just for fun you should ask her if she would like to get a pretty dress and have a program someday soon. Its all about the dress!!!!!!!

    Best of luck.

  12. #12
    Tripping on the Podium
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    I agree with others who have suggested that testing the USFSA Moves in the Field would be a good idea, even if she's going to continue to compete ISI for the time being. Keep in mind that the first USFSA level that goes to qualifying competitions (Regionals) is Juvenile, and there is an age cutoff - you cannot compete as a Juvenile past the age of 12. Skaters typically spend a year at each level, so in order to get through the Pre-Preliminary, Preliminary, and Pre-Juvenile levels and be a Juvenile at age 12, she'd need to pass the Pre-Preliminary free skating test by the age of 9. The MIF test has to be passed before the free skating test can be attempted, so you can see that her testing really should begin sooner rather than later if she intends to be a competitive skater. You don't need to choose between USFSA and ISI - many skaters participate in both - but if she's going to do USFSA at some point it's better not to delay testing too long. (Obviously, there are exceptions - some skaters spend more than one year at a given level, and others less than a year - it all depends on how the skater develops.)

  13. #13
    Paying the bills
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    I would also recommend the USFS system as well. Recently they started a test track program, for skaters that are more recreational. Also, a very small percentage makes it to the elite level of freestyle, but there are many other opportunities. For example, synchro is a great option and can take a skater right through college years. There's theatre on ice for those skaters who really get into drama. At one point, my skater was on a theatre on ice team that had beginner skaters mixed in with past world champions. It can be a really exciting mix.

    It's harder to get into a partnership for pairs or dance, especially if you have a girl. Unfortunately, there just aren't that many boys out there. My skater started out as a freestyler and made the move to dance a few years ago. Recently the program development committee at USFS decided to start a solo national dance event. Dance is another discipline of the sport that many people continue doing right into adulthood.

    I would take cues from your daughter. If it's something she loves, you can start her with a private coach just one or two days a week. It doesn't even have to be full lessons. She can skate with a coach for 20 minutes and then on her own practing for the remainder of the lesson. There's a nice article on USFS that covers some topics for hiring the best coach for your child, http://www.usfigureskating.org/Shell...=227&sid=30298 .

    It's impossible to predict what will happen and from experience, we find ourselves making decisions each year as opposed to forcing ourselves into sticking with long term plans. You have to be fluid as kids passions can change and finances are always an issue. Training at an elite level is extremely costly and can even take skaters to other states to follow their dreams. When we started out at the basic skills level and even with a junior club, we saw skaters that were much better than our own and progressed so quickly that we figured we were watching the next best thing. Going forward a few years and nearly all those skaters are off the ice now. While they moved up quickly as young skaters, some just weren't able to master the next step or decided against moving to an established training center.

  14. #14
    Rinkside
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    Well done by all who posted - good news and information for sk8temom. Nice to see good and genuine information passing along, and feel it's due largely in part of how you're approaching the subject.

    I would have to say wishmaker's response hits closest to home in the bigger picture. Having had an elite skater who started skating for the fun of it when they were 5 yrs. old, it took years for things to unfold. So many factors involved. So many decisions to make, and so many willing people (who have no business) telling me what was right and who was right, etc., and God forbid if I didn't listen to the masses. They were speaking from their own experiences, and it was heard however, it didn't necessarily apply to my daughter and our situation. Bottom line, you do what's right for you and your family - not just the skater (eventually it impacts the entire family). No one else has to take your skater to the rink, lace up the skates and train on the ice, and off the ice year after year. Offer them the best you can and it seems you have the means too...remember, that financial obligation is yours not a child's and it should never be a burden to anyone. It gets extremely expensive the more you do in the sport, as well as the more your skater accomplishes.

    There have been so many benefits that have evolved because of skating in my daughter's life, not just skating success. Hopefully you'll remember your raising your child, not a competitive athlete (if it comes to that one day no matter what sport/direction they take). Life is a journey, not a destination. There are no guarantees in life for anything. No instruction booklet either. Getting all the information you can to process for your child is the best thing you can do, and do it because you know yourself and what's best for your child. Just as it takes years and years to "master" jumps and spins don't forget your learning curve will still be active as well right there with them. Good luck and best wishes. She is lucky to have you as a Mom and will thrive always.

  15. #15
    Rinkside
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    Thanks for all the replies

    You have all given me some great food for thought. I really appreciate it as there really is no "guide book". I think I should print these off and keep them because inevitably I will ponder these questions next year, and the next year.... These replies are applicable all the way through I think!

    Based on your replies, I had a very constructive conversation with our coach. Although he hates to predict the future (learned from experience that there is no predicting....), he is hopeful that my daughter will continue to progress as she has been doing. Also thinks she is highly coachable and really determined which he thinks are underrated characteristics in assessing the potential of figure skaters... (nice to hear because those things are important in every aspect of her life!). He wants to increase her time on the ice even if it is independently practicing a set of exercises that he prescribes for her.

    Apparently, he has been doing drills with her in preparation for the pre-preliminary moves in the field. Quietly and only in private lessons but nonetheless getting her ready to test in the next couple of months for MIF and Freestyle after that. He isn't making a big deal of it to me or my daughter as he doesn't want to encourage "curiosity" from others.

    He agrees that there will come a time when he tells us that it is time to move to USFSA but feels that it isn't yet. For the moment, I believe that I need to trust his judgement and continue to support the program of doing the USFSA testing at the same time.

    Final question for any of you with an opinion on this one... How much is too much at 7 years old? She would like to be on the ice practically every day, begs to go to public skating hours... The best I can find is a sports medicine publication that suggests kids under 12 do less than 20 hours of training per week with no weekly increase greater than 10% (e.g. if they are training 5 hours one week, only go up to max of 5.5 hours the next week). Obviously, this amount has to include all off ice training whether related or not (like ballet and swimming). Twenty hours seem like WAY too much .... At the moment she skates 6-7 hours per week and does off ice strengthening offered in the fitness facility within our rink for 1 hour per week, ballet for 1 hour and of course countless hours of outdoor play (I have no idea where she finds the energy!!). Total of 8-9 hours per week. It sounds like we may need to consider more hours skating at some point - at what point are there declining marginal returns and at what cost to her TINY little body?

    thanks again

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