Question about finding a coach for beginner skater
My daughter is almost six and has been skating for about a month. She's at the pre-alpha ISI level. She loves skating and wants me to take her to the rink to practice 3 or 4 times a week, and she's begging me to get her started on private lessons, too (currently in the learn to skate program once a week). I was a competitive skater myself over 20 years ago, and I remember how much it helped me to begin private lessons with an instructor who really knew what he was doing- he was my 3rd coach and had to correct everything the 1st two coaches taught me. Do the coaches who instruct the advanced skaters ever teach young beginners, too? The rinks seem to want to refer me to the teachers who all appear to be teaching the young ones who are at the beginning level like my daughter- is that because the advanced coaches don't typically teach the young beginners, too? Do you think I should just relax and let my daughter begin private lessons with anyone that seems to have a nice personality that the rink recommends to me, and just wait to seek out the coaches with advanced skaters until my daughter is more advanced, too? I just don't want her to have to re-learn everything and be held back like I was as a kid until I got with a really good, strong coach. Just wondering your thoughts on coaches for young beginner skaters. Thanks!
If you think your daughter may end up skating competitively, then yes, it's better to learn good technique from the start than to have to relearn like you had to. But at her current age and skill level the most important thing is that she have fun on the ice.
Ideally, you could find a coach who has an engaging personality for young beginners and is willing to teachat that level and who will also be able to teach solid technique at higher skill levels. Yes, such coaches do exist, not necessarily at every rink. Some might be interested in taking on beginners only if they anticipate that the skater wants to progress quickly and soon take several lessons a week. So make sure your expectations match those of the coach and don't let yourself be pressured into signing up for more than your daughter is ready for.
Maybe try watching a few freestyle sessions at your rink to see which coaches work sith both lower and higher level freestyle skaters and seem to have a good rapport with their students, especially the younger ones. You can ask around among the parents but recognize that they may be partisan toward their own coaches or against other coaches for reasons that have nothing to do with your needs. At the very least, though, the parents might help you put names to faces.
Also see which of the coaches your interested in also teach on public sessions, which is where your daughter would be starting out. And then check directly with a coach you've identified that you're interested in working with, or ask if the rink can put you in touch with them.
At the rink. Again.
Frankly, you are best off starting with a low level coach who has students at least at a low FS level but whose skills and technique look right. You don't NEED a high level coach who mostly teaches high level FS skaters and would just be wasting your money (here the recognized high level coaches make almost double per lesson versus a coach who teach mostly lower level students), even if he/she is willing to take on a beginner. A lot of times, these coaches get frustrated with beginner level kids if they take them because their expertise is in teaching the higher level skills and they expect their students to have a certain foundation to begin that is generally "understood" by the skater and that the coach never needs to review (think edges, basic stroking, stopping...yes, they will cover these things at a higher level, but don't need to teach the basic premise of these things to their students)
gkelley is right: Go to a FS session and watch the coaches in their lessons and critically review the technique of their students to determine who's students have good foundational skills and who's teaching style and personality would be a good match for your daughter from those that really work foundational skills.